It’s good to be you

I feel more confident when talking to people, even strangers; it is easier for me now to get out of my comfort zone and attending events

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Popcorn is a community project team brought together by Eastlight Community Homes to spend 12 months tackling the issue of social isolation in Witham. We’ve been working alongside local residents to create a programme that supports those who would like to connect with others in their local area to discuss the things that matter most to them.

Social isolation affects people of all ages, however, ‘The Loneliness Guide’ compiled by the Marmalade Trust found that 16-24 year olds that are the loneliest age group in the UK with 40% of younger people feeling lonely compared to 27% of over 75s.

With their entire lives concentrated around achievements, grades, exams and finding jobs, our young people are under a lot of pressure. All of this leaves little to no space for a social life.

So, what did we come up with? popcorn – it’s good to be you

Popcorn is an initiative which provides a unique safe social space for young people to meet others around their own age. It’s a 10-week programme of weekly sessions which are facilitated to help Popcorners get to know one another and build a trusted environment where they can talk about whatever the like and share their experiences. Popcorn is a great way to feel connected, build confidence and find a place to belong.

Why Popcorn? The name reflects how important it is to create the right environment for young people to open up and share their challenges and experiences. Just like kernels which need the right temperature and time to transform into their own unique popcorn shape, the same can be said for young people.

With our pilot programme now complete and our June programme in the works, it’s great to see that every single member of our first Popcorn group said that the programme gave them what they wanted and that they’d recommend Popcorn to a friend. We asked them to tell us about their confidence levels and sense of belonging in week 1 which were at 46% and 54%. At the end of the programme, we asked them the same question and we’re pleased that the scores had risen to 90% and 96%!

But don’t just take it from us, read what our very first Popcorners thought:

“Popcorn helped me to get a job because I came to one of your events. I now feel that when I go to new places, they are safe spaces, and I don’t feel so scared. This has given me confidence and motivated me.”

“I feel guilty when I don’t do something related to education. Coming to Popcorn makes me feel more complete as a person.”

“It’s given me something to look forward to every Wednesday night.”

“I feel more confident when talking to people, even strangers! It’s easier for me to get out of my comfort zone and attend events now.”

“I achieved my goal of doing something outside of school. I was always socially awkward and I’d make up for it at school by being a really good student. Creating meaningful conversations make it easier for me to talk to people.”

How it started

Meet the brilliant members of Popcorn: Mark, Carrie, Jo, Charlotte, Paulina & Jemima.

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