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Ministry of Loneliness

Combating loneliness by sending letters to strangers in long term healthcare.

Client: University of the Arts London (UAL) for Tate Exchange (Later repeated wit Mazars Accounting Firm during Covid, and the Cally Festival in Caledonian road)

Duration: 2 months (20218)

Topic: Loneliness and Chronic Health

The Brief

Find a creative way to start a conversation about loneliness being recognised as a national health crisis in the UK. The result will be on display at the Tate exchange, sharing ideas in a weekend festival at the Tate Modern.

The Outcome

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.

Research and Methodology

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.

Pop-up building

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.

Stationery branding

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.

The Team

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.

Later Adaptations - Cally Festival

The project was later repurposed for a summer festival in the wellness event at Caledonian road. For this version, people wrote to a stranger at the festival, and then took a letter that had previously been written by someone else. The seating in the festival was a good ay to attract people to the event.

Later Adaptations - Mazars and Sue Ryder

For a covid iteration, we wanted to ensure that the letters would actually go to people who needed them. We partenered with Mazars and Sue Ryder hospices to deliver all of the letters, and introduced a tracking system so we knew which letter went to which hospice. For this version, the letter writing was done for digital workshops and the postcards were turned into posters to avoid contact during the pandemic.


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