Ministry of Loneliness
Combating loneliness by sending letters to those in long term healthcare.
4 month project, 1 day event
Find a creative way to start a conversation about loneliness being recognised as a national health crisis in the UK.
This activity took place around a pop-up space that we built, which enabled attendees to sit, write and talk to those around them as much as possible, in order to feel part of a community.
This successful event got members of the public to talk about loneliness and write letters to those in long term healthcare.
Research and development
Research about loneliness
We started this project by researching loneliness and finding out that in 2018 Theresa May appointed a new minister of loneliness, Tracey Crouch. We learnt that more than nine million adults usually feel lonely, which is almost 14% of the UK population, but the figures could be higher. Labour MP Rachel Reeves said that “loneliness is no longer just a personal misfortune but has grown into a social epidemic.” This inspired us to create a ‘Ministry of Loneliness’ and to create an event based on this issue.
We knew we wanted to create a space where members of the public could sit down, chat together and write on their postcards. This is why we created a wooden pop-up that would allow all those activities to happen and that also forced people to sit close to one another, to make eye contact and hopefully speak to people they didn’t know. We built it out of wooden panels that fit together and made a portable structure we could re-use for future events.
The idea behind the stationary design was to create something that branded us at the ‘Ministry of Loneliness’ and had an official feel in the copy but also a playful visual aspect. We created a pattern of arms and hands on the back of the postcards that all connected to each other once the postcards were hung up next to each other, on the day of the event, to evoke a sense of community and helping one another combat feeling of loneliness.
Loneliness is a huge issue worldwide and sending a letter to someone in long term healthcare will not solve the issue, but it can help bring a smile to someone’s face and to start addressing this feeling that our society has turned into a taboo.
- More than 700 hundred people attended the even
- 300 letters were written
- Future collaborations with London Secondary Schools to get more letters
At On the Mend, we are honest about our successes and our failures. We know that we can never fix every single problem with a single interaction. Below are some of our key reflections, and things we would change if we could repeat this work:
A smaller team
This was the first project we ever worked on together and at the time On The Mend consisted of a much larger team than now. Although this was a really interesting way to work and taught us a lot, it had its limitations because everyone had very different ideas on how they wanted the project to develop. After having run the event we quickly realised how valuable it would be to have a smaller core of people with whom we could exchange ideas with but knew we could depend on when running events.
Contact charities and community organisations
Because we were very short on time, we didn’t spend time contacting charities or community organizations when planning the event that we could have told about the project and agreed on sending postcards too. Since we didn’t do this, we spent lots of time after having done the event trying to find people who wanted to receive these postcards, which was much harder than we expected. Contacting them prior, would have improved the project immensely as they could have given us feedback when we were still developing the event and find ways to tailor it to the needs of their patients more.
After sending out the postcards to different organisations, we didn’t ask for any feedback on how they were received and what patients thought of them, which made it difficult for us to measure the impact of the project. It would have definitely been needed to gather feedback from organizations and patients who received postcards.
Branding – Mathilda Della Torre, Sophia Luu & Akanksha Bhasme
Pop up design and build – Alex Clarke, Lucia Lanzalaco, Sophia Luu and Pod Hughes
Event facilitation – Participating Artists: Mathilda Della Torre, Lottie Bolster, Chang Gao, Sarah Graham, Laura Madeley, Kim Judge, Molly Bonnell, Gazbia Sorour, Michaela Wenkert, Akanksha Bhasme and Mariana Pena Montiero
‘Ministry’ Concept – Laura Madeley
Generously supported by the UAL The Post-Grad Community Project Fund.