Lonely Not Alone - Safeguarding & Privacy

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The safety of children, teenagers and young adults interacting with the Lonely Not Alone campaign is our top priority. We hope the information provided here will answer any questions you have about our campaign. 

Please contact Phil Innes, Effervescent’s Safeguarding Lead if you have any further questions.  

This document will be reviewed regularly. 


About Lonely Not Alone

Lonely Not Alone is a campaign made by young people, for young people, to tackle the stigma of youth loneliness. We are a Co-op Foundation campaign, created in partnership with specialist creative co-design agency, Effervescent.

We co-designed our campaign with young people because we believe they are the best people to create work that is authentic and honest; and that can help other young people identify potential ways out of their loneliness.

Lonely Not Alone 2021 grows out of two years of previous campaigns, also designed by young people.  Any piece of work looking to create long-term change will take time to achieve. In our third year we are focusing on stimulating empathy and understanding of what loneliness is, how it feels, and the ways some young people have found to cope with it. We hope to help young people who are lonely to find ways to help themselves and each other.  We hope young people who have not experienced loneliness will understand how challenging it can be, and how they can help.

Campaign partners

The Co-op Foundation 

The Co-op Foundation is Co-op’s charity. We’ve been tackling youth loneliness since 2017 when Co-op and British Red Cross research found young people were lonely more often than any other age group. Since then, we’ve awarded more than £6.5m to projects that connect and empower young people and helped to build networks and resources to support youth workers. Lonely Not Alone is our multi-year campaign to tackle stigma among young people aged 10 to 25-years-old.

Our partnership with Effervescent

Since 2019 Effervescent have been commissioned to work directly with young people and support them to use their lived experience of loneliness to help themselves and their peers.

Effervescent is a charity, and often works with young people who have lived through painful or traumatic experiences. Effervescent’s team is trained in education, play work, youth work, and safeguarding and they bring all this experience to developing and creating campaigns with and for young people.

Lonely Not Alone is committed to keeping children and young people safe from harm however they interact with our campaign.

Below we set out in plain English the processes we have in place to support and protect young people who engage with this site.

Thank you to our colleagues at Barnardo’s who have advised us on safeguarding; and thanks to RSBC and Mencap for advising us on making this site as accessible and meaningful as possible.

This website has been designed in full partnership with young people aged 12 – 24.  This means that they have come up with the initial idea, and worked alongside professionals to build the experience.

The technical bits

When young people share their personal information

When young people choose to share a story on the Lonely Not Alone website (https://lonelynotalone.org) they share their age and email address, but not their name.  We verify their email address as part of the story submission process. No other data is collected. Their email address is used to:

  • Keep the young person informed about the progress of their story through the publishing process
  • Share information on where that young person might get extra support with the things they discuss in their story
  • Invite them to take part, if they wish, in other Lonely Not Alone activities – for example, a Discord chat server – which have been organised and risk-assessed by Effervescent and Co-op Foundation.

We have ensured that every young person who submits their story to the site can remain anonymous to other site visitors.

The law requires us to share with you how we use your information.

When site visitors share their story, it will remain on the website for as long as the campaign runs, or until they request for it to be removed. Everyone has the right to be forgotten, and users can request for their data to be removed at any time by emailing lonelynotalone@eff.org.uk. The data users submit as part of the process will be stored on a secure server and encrypted in rest and in flight. The server is protected by a roll-based user name and password, is restricted to UK IP and can only be accessed by specified individuals. Data will not be shared.

Emails will be sent to users from within the database and from Mailchimp. Data exported to Mailchimp will be deleted on upload. All emails to site visitors include a link to unsubscribe, and have their data deleted. Audio stories – but no accompanying personal data – will also be exported to Telbee for audio editing, you can find Telbee’s Privacy notice here.

You can also find the Lonely Not Alone campaign Privacy Notice here.  Please note that this Privacy Notice complements this Safeguarding & Privacy Policy.

Ticking the “I’m happy for my story to be shared anonymously in media, newsletters and social media” box

If you tick the “I’m happy for my story to be shared anonymously in media, newsletters and social media” box, we may share your story in these ways. Your story will be completely anonymised and nobody will know it is yours.  If your story contains any names (of yourself, or other people) they won’t be shared. Lonely Not Alone social media channels are Twitter – @lonelynotalone, Facebook – @lonelynotaloneuk and Instagram – @lonelynotalone.


Stories from children 12 years old, or younger

We want to include as many children as possible, so we do allow children who are 12 or younger to submit stories – we believe this is helpful and honours children’s efforts in sharing their stories.

However, children under 13 can’t take part in social media apps, so if we identify that a story has been submitted by a child who is 12 years or younger, we have a specific email flow for them inviting them to immediately reach out for help and support with their experiences, and giving some suggestions of who to talk to, and how to reach them.

Children under the age of 13 will not be invited to take part in the Discord Group chats with other young people, and will not be invited to engage with the campaign on social media as we don’t expect them to be using social media.

What we do with young people’s stories

When young people share their stories with us, we send an automated email that signposts them to sources of immediate help and support.  These sources of help are specifically tailored for children, teenagers, and young adults, and are available by text and by phone 24hours-a-day. This is to protect and support young people who may have just shared their story for the first time, and may have been left with complex feelings to work through.

Our team then read or listen to each individual story and ‘sort’ the story into one of 10 constellations, before publication.  Our team are trained in safeguarding children, teenagers, and vulnerable adults.

If we have cause for concern, and believe a child is in immediate danger, or might harm another child we will not publish that story.  Because we only ask young people for their age and email address, we will not be able to contact the police and/or the local authority where they live. However, we will email the young person, sharing the details of Childline and The Samaritans, and encouraged them to reach out and talk to a trusted adult. We will also share with the young person that if they or another child or young person is in immediate danger, they should call 999.

Should a young person share more details about themselves then we might contact the police direct ourselves.

If we see or hear information within the story that would identify this, or any other young person, we will remove that information. Stories submitted by audio will have a filter applied over the top to slightly change the voice and help anonymise the storyteller.

When we publish a story

Once a young person’s story has been published, we will send them an email with relevant and targeted sources of support specific to the issues they have described in their story.  For example, if the story is about being a young person in the care system we will signpost them to the national charity for children in care, Become.

If a story contains information which may trigger a strong emotional reaction in someone reading it, that story will be flagged with a content warning with a word or two about the specific nature of the content, and website visitors can choose to open the story, or to skip over it to the next story.

Inviting young people to engage with the Lonely Not Alone Discord group

Lonely Not Alone will invite young people aged 13 – 25 to join an anonymous Discord chat, so they can share stories with people who have undergone experiences similar to their own. The intention here is to create a compassionate and helpful group chat, where young people can support each other: this will be explicitly stated.

In this server, teenagers as young as 13, and young adults as old as 25 may find themselves in the same chat group. When people join the Lonely Not Alone Discord server, they will be reminded of the age range.

The Lonely Not Alone Discord server is private, and only accessible via an invite link: the link we send young people will expire after seven days for added security, and can only be used once. The server is not searchable, and young people will be asked not to share the link.

The Effervescent team will moderate the server, as they are trained in basic safeguarding. Moderation will be overseen by Effervescent’s Safeguarding Lead, who undertakes continual refresher training in safeguarding.

The moderating team will remove inappropriate comments, and block users if it becomes necessary and appropriate. If young people have concerns, they can flag them with a moderator. A moderator will always inform the Safeguarding Lead who, in turn, might discuss with the Effervescent co-CEOs.

The server will be moderated daily, but a full list of expert helplines are also listed on the server for anyone who needs immediate support.

The Lonely Not Alone server has a content filter: this ensures it will automatically detect and delete images and uploads deemed inappropriate or explicit. Every user who joins the server will automatically have the ‘keep me safe’ filter activated: this scans images and videos in all direct messages, and blocks explicit content.

How Discord has been designed to keep young people safe

Discord is a free voice, video, and text chat app where communities and friends can socialise and chat. Users must be 13+ to create an account. Anyone registering must provide an email address and date of birth. Discord refers to this approach as pseudonymous: accounts don’t have to be linked with identities. Young people are encouraged to use nicknames which enables them to be their true self, whilst keeping safe.

Discord won’t sell data, or share it with third parties for advertising purposes. Users’ personal information is not shared with other users.  Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit (“CARU”) issued a report endorsing Discord’s practices relating to children’s privacy.

All interactions on Discord are opt-in. Every person who signs up can only be direct-messaged by another user if they explicitly accept a request. Direct messaging will be discouraged for privacy and safety reasons, but is not fully preventable. Users can also report concerning content to Discord’s Trust & Safety team using this form.