One of the things that we became aware of is that loneliness is an evident problem now within our society and it is escalating due to the use of social media and technology. But also, you know, people are experiencing social exclusion.

In Devon we held a forum for the people that we support and I was actually quite taken aback by the amount of people that expressed how lonely they were.

There is a high percentage of people with learning disabilities – young learning disabled people – that are suffering from loneliness.

We decided to actually present some of the key factors within an animation. Part of the process was engaging each of our operational services to participate within the project. That was experiencing stop-motion, understanding how it works.

The animation has inspired me to do my own animation at home.

I was doing… I was doing the cup. We did blue and a green.

It was amazing what people have done. The projects that were really heavily involved were some of our wellbeing services. Aspects, the crafts group, the creative team at ROC Creative, Lower Sharpham Farm, you know the metal work that was carried out there. And also Boscowen for the craft group and the woodwork.

Yeah I’ve helped make these sets, which is quite exciting. When it’s all put together I’ll then come along and sand it.

The majority of the narration has been carried out by people that are supported by United Response.

Hey I’m Zack and this is my story.

A part of the process was asking people we support about their experience of loneliness.

Once upon a time there was a young teenager. One day his friend was away if with his family. He was on his own and alone. He was struggling with his diet. It got so bad he turned to beer. He was in bits and started to cry.

I was in town one time. I looked around and all I see was everybody with somebody. Boyfriends, girlfriends, aunts, uncles – someone they can relate to, someone they can talk to – and I look back to my life, I thought I had hardly anybody my life. When I got home I just broke down in tears because I was that lonely.

Loneliness can affect everybody especially at this time when Coronavirus and social distancing measures are having a profound impact on the way we all live and interact with each other.

The theme of this year’s Loneliness Awareness Week is to take the one out of loneliness – to signify one less lonely voice.

We hope that Zack’s Story will encourage people to feel able to talk about their own experiences of loneliness, because it’s only when we talk about it that we discover that we aren’t alone and that there is help out there.

So please add your voice and join the conversation.