Young mums peer group combat loneliness with National Lottery funding

Sheree Hodgson and Jo Critch

Sheree Hodgson, Project Coordinator at Feathers Futures (left), with project founder Jo Critch (right) - Credit: National Lottery

A Great Yarmouth women’s charity has been awarded almost £10,000 in National Lottery funding to set up ‘Flourish’, a peer support group for young mums experiencing loneliness.

Feathers Futures is just one of many local projects that is stepping up to combat isolation for Loneliness Awareness Week.

The group will invite young mums between the ages of 16 and 21 to talk openly about their experiences in a safe, non-judgemental space, alongside activities including walking groups, coffee mornings and quiz nights. 

Feathers Futures was launched in 2019 by Jo Critch after she saw a lack of safe spaces for vulnerable women in Great Yarmouth. Jo soon started to receive a number of referrals for young women with children, and she noticed common themes of loneliness and low self-esteem.

Research by the Co-op and British Red Cross shows that almost half (49%) of all mums between 18 and 25 said they were ‘often’ or ‘always’ lonely, compared to 37% aged between 26 and 30.

Ms Critch said: “COVID has only worsened the problem for many young mums, making them more isolated and making it more difficult for them to receive the right support.”

One young mother who has benefitted from the support is Claire, 18, who now wants to become a volunteer at Feathers Futures.

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She said: “Before I came to Feathers Futures, I felt alone. Once I became a mother, my friends started to stop inviting me on nights out because of the few times I had to say no. I didn't know anyone else my age with a baby.

“My family nurse suggested I come to Flourish and it has already helped me loads. I’ve made new friends and now know that there are other people in situations just like mine. It helps to talk to others about how I’m feeling.”

Helen Bushell, Head of Regional Funding for the East of England at the National Lottery Community Fund, said: “As we continue to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the stigma around loneliness and making it okay to ask for help remains more important than ever.”

“We’re delighted to provide this lifeline on behalf of National Lottery players and also in conjunction with [the] government,” she added.

To find out more about National Lottery community funding, visit: