At the NSPCC, we believe that together, we can stop child abuse and neglect. We’re working with people and communities across the UK and Channel Islands to prevent it, transforming the online world to make it safer for children, and making sure every child has a place to turn for support when they need it.
We campaign for change. We work with schools to help children understand what abuse is, and we support them to speak out and feel safe. We develop services in local communities to stop abuse before it starts and help children recover, so it doesn’t shape their future. Our Helpline is ready to respond to adults with any worry about a child. And Childline is there for young people when they need us.
For this campaign, Childline asked us to work on a brief about loneliness, having noticed that more and more young people were seeking help for this issue. They wanted children and young people to understand how loneliness can impact their emotional wellbeing and mental health. At the same time, they wanted their audiences to know that Childline is here for them and can provide a safe space for them to get support.
We knew from our past campaigns that young people engage well with first-person narrative storytelling, and that they want to see other young people represented in our creative. On top of this, young people told us that their loneliness wasn’t taken seriously by adults. They struggled to have their feelings understood, or to find somebody to turn to. It felt like loneliness was something to be endured and hidden away.
Borrowing from the popular social media trend of ‘Day in the Life’ videos, the ‘Day in the Lonely’ subverts the genre. At first, our stories appear to show the idealised lives of three young people – Elle, Khenan and Rob. As the videos continue, we start to see glimpses of them struggling with loneliness. At the climax, their loneliness has become overwhelming. The resolution shows each character contacting Childline, feeling empowered after asking for help.
A creative challenge for us when creating content for Childline is balancing the desire to signal hope for the young person, while reflecting the reality of the situation. We are careful not to overpromise within our campaigns, as that could lead to a negative outcome when a young person contacts the service. Childline will not ‘solve all your problems’ immediately, and we have to be careful not to promise that. With ‘Day in a Lonely’, we wanted our stories to be sensitive, empowering and narratively satisfying, without making the endings feel too neat or ‘problem solved’.
When working on creative concepts, we considered how best to reflect young people’s reality and make sure the content was available to them in a user-friendly format. We created our stories with young people and asked them to feedback on our concepts, visual approach and scripts. We also captured most of our film content on phones used by our young cast, who improvised scenes to make them more relatable. And, of course, it was crucial that any content could be found on online via social media.
Finally, we wanted to include ‘aspirational’ elements, specifically by spotlighting a character who appears to have a happy, active social life, to help remove some of the stigma surrounding loneliness. Loneliness doesn’t have to be linked to a lack of people in your life. Instead, a lack of self-esteem and self-worth can create a sense of separation from others, even if they’re physically there.
So whether it was physical isolation, fear of missing out or family breakdowns, with our ‘Day in the Lonely’ campaign we wanted to show that any young person can feel lonely, and that Childline is there to listen and support every young person when they need it.
After living through a pandemic that turned young people’s social and school lives upside down, it’s no wonder that loneliness is on the rise. But it’s our job as adults to do everything possible to get young people the support we need. If we won this award, it would be a real signal that loneliness in young people is a problem we need to take seriously. And, most importantly, that loneliness doesn’t have to last.
‘Elle’ 60sec: Elle’s Day in the Life | Day in the Lonely | Childline
‘Khenan’ 60sec: Khenan’s Day in the Life | Day in the Lonely | Childline