Loneliness in Young People


Loneliness in Young People

Richard Wise

With the holiday season beginning to descend upon us, “Joy to the World” and festive cheer tends to have most people smiling as they spend time with their nearest and dearest. From large family Thanksgivings and close family Hanukkahs to rowdy Christmas events and New Years parties, this is a time for people to be together. Sadly, not everyone is able to feel the merriment of the next couple of months. Who can forget the tearjerker of an advert from John Lewis back in 2015 entitled The Man on the Moon, which highlighted loneliness amongst the older generations. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, according to a number of recent studies on the topic, the people who feel most lonely are young adults.

The biggest ever “Loneliness” study in the UK of 55,000 people found that two in five 16-24 year old’s reported feeling lonely often or very often, a figure which showed that they experienced this feeling more than any other age group. With these tech savvy youngsters using all the social media platforms, they are more connected than ever before. But having thousands of Facebook friends does not necessarily translate to real life. The report, which was conducted by BBC 4’s All In The Mind in conjunction with the Wellcome Trust, in fact found that those who report feeling more lonely had more Facebook friends than those who do not. This also manifests in physical problems, with the effect of the ”Loneliness Epidemic” said to be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

How can young people tackle the problem?

Simply being outside is a great place to start. A study at the University of Essex found that just 5 minutes a day outdoors was enough to improve people mood and self-esteem. When outside, and especially if the sun is shining, our bodies release endorphins and other “happy hormones” such as serotonin which makes us feel good. When people feel good about themselves, they are more likely to interact with others. Even a short walk to the local shop and a quick chat with the cashier can raise a person’s mental state significantly.

Exploring the world outdoors naturally brings people into contact with one another. Walking along a path or trail, generally folk will say “Hello” or “Good Morning.” Dog walkers are especially known for this! Repeated often, this can lead to more meaningful interactions as people start to recognise each other. If you don’t have a dog of your own, why not volunteer to be a walker at a local refuge or shelter?

Camping overnight is another great way to spend time outdoors with people. Even going on your own, campsites are very social places, with communal washing up areas and pitches near others. Lots of local groups organise campouts, so why not try to find one in your local area?

If the idea of approaching others is off-putting, there are ways of attracting people to come to you. Taking something as small as a couple of balls  to a local park to try and teach yourself to juggle, or make some simple sock poi, or a simple slackline between two trees will act as a magnet. People will be curious as to what you are doing and will come over and ask, maybe giving you a chance to demonstrate your skills or even to share some of their own with you.

Joining a sports team or special interest group is a great way to meet a lot of new people. With local Facebook groups and sites such as MeetUp, it is easier than ever to find people with whom you share common ground or try something completely new and have people to laugh with. Interacting via digital platforms before and after taking part can help lessen the initial anxiety about meeting, and continue to build the relationships as time goes on.

How can a WiseUp Team Building day help?

By taking part in one of our bushcraft or archery events, thousands of students have the opportunity to try something they haven’t done before. This has led to many of them pursuing these new interests by joining archery clubs and scout groups.

Our range of team building and problem solving challenges are designed to be completed in teams. By ensuring that young people have to combine their skills in order to finish a task, this causes a release of the bonding hormone, Oxytocin. Participants realise the value of working with others rather than trying to do everything on their own. This is even further emphasised with tasks which involve people physically supporting one another (maybe over or around something) as oxytocin is stimulated by touch. Meaning that the physically closer people are to one another, the mentally closer they are as well.

Contact Us

Give our lovely office team a call on 01732 822753 or drop us an e-mail to find out what we can offer your students to help them make new friends and strengthen existing bonds.

The Break-ing of Social Skills in School Children

Richard Wise

With the ever-growing impact of social media on young people, interpersonal skills such as communication, both verbal and non-verbal, are not developing in the way they have done traditionally. Where children used to spend hours playing with their friends, riding bikes outside their houses after school or climbing trees together in the park, they now prefer to engage with one another electronically. The result is a generation that struggles with the subtle nuances of body language and tone, which can lead to diminished meaningful relationships.

The impact of this is felt especially in schools, where students are not able to revert to WhatsApp, SnapChat or any of their “usual” methods of communication. When using a phone or computer to chat, if a situation becomes awkward, there is the option to simply dis-continue the conversation. In real life however, it can be uncomfortable to end a face to face discussion, which can result in more negative interactions due to a lack of experience in those kinds of circumstances. While students are focusing on the school curriculum, the emphasis is still on the individual learning, despite a marked increase in incorporating group work into many subjects. Sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher, whilst important for their education, does not give young people the chance to socialise all that much.

But they still have break and lunch time to hang out together?

Unfortunately, a study by UCL’s Institute of Education found that these times are being increasingly reduced in schools. Primary aged learners now get 45 minutes less break time every week compared to back in 1995. Afternoon break is being “virtually eliminated” with only half of primary schools now factoring it into the timetable. Secondary schools fare even worse, with afternoon break being part of only 15% of school’s regular days, adding up to a loss of 65 minutes of break time every week for these older students.
Lunch times have also been hugely trimmed down in secondary schools, with over 82% having a lunch that lasts less than 55 minutes. Back in 1995, it was only a third of schools who had the shorter lunch time.

The reasons being given for these changes are largely down to schools feeling the need to increase teachers contact time with their students. With intense pressure to cram more learning into the school day, to provide a larger percentage of higher grades, young people are losing the time to socialise and develop key soft skills. Some students are missing out on even the small windows of time that are allocated as 60% of schools were found to withhold breaks as a punishment. This also denies young people the chance to increase their daily exercise.

How can WiseUp help?

With growing concern about young people’s mental and physical health, these figures are very worrying. Here at WiseUp, we strongly believe in young people getting every opportunity to improve their inter-personal skills, while engaging in gentle exercise. Our team building products have been designed to fulfil many of the National Curriculum criteria, meaning that a WiseUp day ticks many of the boxes needed by schools.

While participating in a range of different tasks, students focus on their communication within a supportive team environment. Building trust amongst one another alongside personal resilience, our full and half day challenges give students the chance to engage in face to face interactions, while also giving them a break from a traditional classroom setting. They will probably be having so much fun, they won’t even realise they are learning!

Contact Us

Give our friendly office team a call on 01732 822753 or  use our easy enquiry form to see what options are available for your students.

Spending Time with the Right People

Richard Wise

With the summer holidays in full swing, many of us are indulging in our favourite out of school activities – sleeping, chilling, and hanging out with friends. Going swimming, watching the latest films and chatting together late into the night, being around our besties can be a lot of fun. But are we surrounding ourselves with the right people?

What does that even mean?

Whether we realise it or not, the people we choose to have around us have a big impact on the rest of our lives. Science has proven that by simply being in close proximity to positive people, our own emotional well being is improved. Not only do others influence our emotions, research has shown that our social networks (both real and digital) can have beneficial effects to our diet and exercise routines, thereby improving our overall health.

A good crowd can be hard to find

Just a few select people in your inner circle who have a positive approach to life can make all the difference A great example of this is in Okinawa, Japan where they have a long standing tradition of grouping 5 young people together to form a “moai.” These youngsters make a commitment to each other for life to offer emotional support, share life experience and even financial assistance when needed. Some moai’s have lasted over 90 years, and the tradition is still going strong. The science as a result makes for pretty amazing reading. Okinawa is regarded as a longevity hotspot, where people are proven to live longer and better lives than almost anyone in the world. The average life expectancy for a woman living there is 90 years old – that’s 18 years over the worldwide average and 9 years beyond the current UK average.

What does this have to do with Outdoor Education?

Outdoor activities offer young people the perfect opportunity to meet others who they may not normally choose to interact with. By giving them the chance to complete a task or challenge together, this creates a shared bond and can facilitate friendships that extend far beyond a single day or week. How strong this bond is requires one thing from all participants: courage. It can be very difficult for youngsters to show vulnerability – in an age where we are encouraged to “Live your best life” many feel the pressure of presenting the perfect image of themselves and their lifestyle. Outdoor challenges offer a chance to be imperfect – to be covered in mud, scared still at the end of a rope, frustrated at a problem solving game or soaked through in a boat with others who are in the same position. Vulnerability in a shared situation creates trust and it is this trust that ultimately leads to fulfilling relationships.

Get In Touch

WiseUp Team Building’s extensive range of activities and challenges are specially designed to encourage students of all ages to get to know each other as they work together to solve tasks.  Please use our easy enquiry form to see what we can offer your learners, or give us a call on 01732 822753.


Richard Wise

The debate around competition has been going for many years – should children and young people participate individually and in teams against one another? With some schools banning ‘traditional’ events such as sports days in a move to reduce what is seen as the negative impact of losing, is this the best way to help or are students ultimately the ones losing out?


Competition has long been a part of most young people’s school day experience – from sports teams and debating societies to inter-house championships and student performance league tables. But over the years, the argument against these kinds of competitive activities has grown, largely centered around some of the psychological repercussions of being in a potentially cut throat environment. Unhealthy competition can lead to young people suffering from insecurity and low self esteem as a result of the strong need for validation and attention they may receive when they win at something. This can also lead to cases of severe magnification, where seemingly unimportant events are treated by students as the most crucial happening, and should they not achieve a top result, deep depressions can follow. These are extreme examples, but what is interesting to note is that it is not the activities themselves which cause the most harm, but rather young people’s perception of winning and losing.


Whether we want them to or not, people begin competing from a relatively young age – youngsters always want to be the one at the front of the line or the one chosen to feed the class pet. And this follows them throughout their lives into adulthood – indeed, job searching is one of the biggest competitions many of us face, and it’s this that forms the argument for keeping competition in schools. The important element for educators and coaches is to focus students’ attention on the values of healthy competition. Realising that it’s okay to not win all the time and to see that as an opportunity to improve one’s personal level. Showing good sportsmanship towards fellow team mates and opposing teams improves positive communication skills and fosters friendships. Learning respect and humility from following referees decisions, and accepting that often players don’t have all the correct information to make a judgement call whilst the referee does.

Ultimately, what benefits students will get from competing in teams and individually lies largely with the supervisors around them – teachers, coaches, instructors and parents in particular. As long as the focus is on the positive elements, and any negativity is taken as a chance to be built upon, young people can learn and thrive whilst having fun.


Here at WiseUp, we do enjoy a bit of healthy competition. However, all of our activity days are structured in such a way that they can be run to suit the needs of each different school we work with, so if a school wants the focus of the day to be on a different aspect, that is absolutely not a problem. Our Activities Manager works closely with the lead teacher prior to every event to ensure the aims of the school are met.


If you would like to hear how our team can provide full or half day team building events at your school site, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call. 


Richard Wise

With many students getting ready to sit their final Exams, thoughts of full time employment will already be on many of their minds. However, academic excellence won’t necessarily guarantee anyone their dream career, especially in today’s highly competitive job market. More and more, companies are placing a higher value on candidates employability skills, with many admitting they are more desirable than top grades.


Often referred to as “soft skills,” these are the traits that employers most want to see in job applicants. In a report commissioned by the Edge Foundation entitled “Employers Perceptions of the employability skills of new graduates” team work and problem solving were the top desirable traits listed. Others, such as leadership, flexibility, communication and good interpersonal skills are all essential in order to succeed in the 21st century work force. As an ever growing number of companies re-format their current employees into new team-focused dynamics rather than the traditional hierarchal structure, school and university graduates hoping to join their ranks really need to be able to show their strengths as a team player.


As our company name implies, team building is what we do! Our highly engaging activity days have a strong focus on improving students’ interactions with one another as they complete a range of physically and mentally challenging tasks. Only by working together as a cohesive unit will teams be able to complete our activities, communicating ideas and supporting one another throughout the event. Each one of our team building activity days can be tailored to focus on a particular skill and link to the work environment outside of school.


If you would like to hear how our team can build your students soft skills base at your school site, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call. 


Richard Wise

Playing in the great outdoors has always been a big part of many people’s childhoods. Building forts. Climbing trees, looking for the perfect conker – all brilliant memories. However, a recent study found that most children now spend less time outside than prisoners, with the average amount being just 16 minutes a day! There are many different factors attributed to this, almost too many to mention, but rather than focusing on why this worrying trend is happening, we at WiseUp like to find ways to end it. One of the simplest ways to encourage children and young people to spend time out of doors is for parents, carers and guardians to do it with them. While it’s not always possible for adults to dedicate a whole day to playing outside, there are lots of ways to enjoy being out in the fresh air even for shorter periods of time.


We all have to eat, so why not turn an ordinary meal into something different. Pack up the pasta, wrap up the Weetabix and enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner outside.


Take a piece of paper and hold it against a tree. Use a pencil or crayon to lightly shade over the page as it is pressed up against the trunk and watch the pattern of the bark appear. Each variety of tree has a different pattern – see how many you can collect, and then investigate what trees they have come from. This can also be done with leaves!


Take a few minutes on a clear night to look up at the stars and see what constellations you can find.  There are some great smartphone apps that will help by scanning the sky and giving information about the science and history of star groups. If you are really luck, you might just see a shooting star – Make a wish!

If going outside at night is not really your thing, cloud gazing can be just as much fun. Lay on your back and watch the white puffy clouds change shape – try to figure out what they are and what they are changing into. Whilst stars already have their own stories, with clouds you can indulge your imagination by making up your own about the ever-changing shapes.


See who can create the most beautiful natural necklace, bracelet or ring. Use the traditional daisy chain method with added elements for a bit more “bling” by slitting the stem of the daisies with your thumbnail and threading them through one another. For a different look, try rolling a wide piece of sellotape loosely around your wrist with the sticky side up. Then go searching for pieces of coloured leaves, feathers and flowers from the ground to stick on (Please don’t pick anything that is still living – we don’t want to hurt the trees or plants!)


Get a container, a bit of soil, some seeds and away you go! Sunflowers are a great one to start with, or how about some yummy herbs, like parsley, basil or rosemary? Small pots are easily maintained on a balcony or even tucked to  one side of a communal garden space. Even better, if you live near a local park, speak to the gardeners there about helping to water the plants or pot new seedlings.


No matter what the size or location of your site, WiseUp are able to bring a variety of activities and challenges to get young people out into the fresh air, no matter what the weather. Our events are designed to fit around normal school timetables, scout group meetings and afte school or weekend activity groups, meaning no disruption to normal schedules. Please feel free to give us a call, drop us an email or use our easy enquiry form to see what we can offer.


Richard Wise

Imagine going to the doctor with a simple cut and not being able to have it stitched. Not because of a lack of materials, but because the doctor simply wasn’t able to perform the procedure. Roger Kneebone, a professor of surgical education at Imperial College London, thinks this is precisely what may happen in the not too distant future. Whilst the academic standard of medical students remains high, he says that many now lack the physical dexterity to perform even simple medical tasks with their hands. This “lack [of] tactile general knowledge,” he believes, comes from students spending too much time in front of 2 dimensional devices and not enough time handling materials, cutting textiles or learning woodwork. Whilst these are skills that many of us learned at school without even realising it, learners are now leaving education “less competent and less confident” in using their hands.

How can traditional outdoor education help?

From simple tasks such as gathering materials for building shelters and foraging for berries, to the more complex elements of wood whittling and snare setting, almost all bushcraft and survival skills require hands on, practical application. Here are just a few more examples of how these kinds of sessions will improve learnings finger co-ordination:

Fire lighting

Beginning with collecting tinder, kindling and different sizes and varieties of fuel, setting and lighting a fire is a great way to work on hand-eye coordination and skills. Laying the beginning of a fire requires gentle and strategic placement of materials to allow for the flow of oxygen and the growth of the fire. Using traditional firelighting techniques such as hand and bow drillsor a flint and steel exercises the hands and fingers in a range of different ways.

knot tying

From simple hitches and stopper knots to more complicated quick release and alpine knots, rope tying is the perfect way to improve learners finger finesse (try tying a one handed bowline!) Sessions such as shelter and raft building utilize these skills in a practical and fun way.

Basic tools

Creating tools often requires just as much skill as using them. Handmade cooking utensils such as spoons present a fantastic and useful whittling activity. For even more of a challenge, hand crafted musical instruments and pencils encourage prolonged use for those with an artistic streak.


Here at WiseUp, we believe in students getting physically stuck into as many challenges as possible. Our extensive range of bushcraft sessions cover all of the skills discussed in this article and more. Our teambuilding activities encourage learners to use a variety of equipment to practically solve a range of challenges. To find out how we can helo your students improve their hands on skills, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call.



Richard Wise

With Christmas already feeling like it was forever ago, and still a while to go until Easter, many people may feel like March is a bit of a dull month. Never fear – here at WiseUp we are big fans of celebrating the small stuff and here are a few of our favourite days in March for everyone to enjoy.

1 March: World compliment day

Started in the Netherlands in 2001, this day aims to be the “most positive day in the world” and is purely about spreading happiness. Never underestimate the value of the words we say to one another – just one kind phrase can completely transform someone’s day, week, month or even life! It also makes the speaker feel really good. and get that warm fuzzy feeling inside. Try giving a compliment to everyone you meet today and watch the smiles appear 😊.

14 March: Pi Day

Using the American date format (MM/DD/YYYY), this day celebrates the mathematical formula of 3.14 – Pi! Not just one for those who like numbers, but also a grate day for those of us who love to indulge occasionally in baked goods, both sweet and savoury. Some countries and areas are especially known for their pies, like Australia’s meat pie, the great Cornish pasty and the classic American pumpkin pie. Why not try baking a pie today? Or sample one that you have never tasted? Mmmmm, pie…….

20 March: world storytelling day

Traditionally celebrated on the Spring equinox in the North Hemisphere, this imaginative day was first observed in Sweden in the early 1990’s. It encourages people both young and old to get together and indulge in old stories, as well as create entirely new ones. Since 2004, every year has had a different theme – 2019’s is “Myths, Legends and Epics.” Why not ask an older person to share a story from their childhood or investigate if there are any mythical legends in your local area?

28 March: Something on a stick day

There is just something about food that makes it taste even better when eaten off a stick! In some countries like Thailand, a range of sweet and savoury foods are sold on sticks by street vendors, including some that you won’t have tried anywhere else – fancy a grasshopper skewer to snack on? Greek kebabs are a tasty and different way to enjoy meat and vegetables cooked together, while Chinese cuisine brings to mind delicious satay skewers. How about experimenting with various foods on sticks today and see which works best? Or enjoy one of the “on a stick” classics such as a fondue or toasted marshmallows for a sweet treat?

30 March: Take a walk in the park day

As an outdoor based company, it’s clear to see why we at WiseUp enjoy celebrating this day! Not only is it a great way to explore different places, there are all the fantastic health benefits too. Just 30 minutes a day can lower the risk of many types of ailments, as well as boot people’s mood and reduce stress. Take some time today to enjoy your local park, or try visiting a new one if you’re feeling adventurous!

Get in touch

If you are looking for something a bit different to do this March with the young people you work with, have a look around the website to see the many activities that WiseUp can bring to you. Use our easy enquiry form, drop us an email or give us a call if you have any questions or would like to make a booking.


Richard Wise

Last month we wrote a post on Growth Mindset – what it actually means and the science behind it. Often, educators know the theory behind the mindset, but struggle to find ways of implementing it in a meaningful, long term way. Many schools host assemblies and whole PSHE classes on the topic, which is a great start, however the best results come from those who continue to reinforce the ethos every day. For some teachers and student support workers, knowing where to begin can be a bit daunting, but it’s actually much easier to slot into lessons than many realise.

A large part of helping young people to develop a positive growth mindset rests on the language which people around them use, and that which they use in themselves. As far back as 20 years ago, studies revealed that a subtle change in how students were praised could lead to a dramatic shift in their behaviour. One example showed that children who were praised for their effort enjoyed tasks much more than children who were praised for their intelligence. They were also found to perform much better in future tasks compared to their peers. By using positive language to enhance the idea that learning is not always straightforward, this encourages students to choose more difficult tasks to stretch themselves.


How educators present assessment tasks such as tests and projects can have a massive impact on a learners approach to these. Over 40 years ago, one psychologist in America studied how primary school students viewed an upcoming test. Those who viewed it as an opportunity to compare themselves against their classmates tended to be more vulnerable to failure which could have a direct impact on their self-esteem. Other students approached the test in a more task orientated way and used it as a chance to see how much they had learned. Task orientation has since been associated with many positive learning impacts, such as better motivation, confidence and reduced anxiety.

By adapting the language we use when addressing students, this in turn has an impact on the language they use when addressing themselves. Self talk affects how people think, feel and ultimately perform and encouraging positive, open and growing thoughts will help young people manage their nerves, improve creativity and increase their persistence and motivation.


All of our instructors at WiseUp Team Building are specifically trained to use language which encourages the personal growth mindset of every student we work with. A study done on “Knowing your Limits” found that people are often not the best indicators of their best efforts and when challenged, may surpass their own expectations. Our instructors work hard to help learners realise their personal and combined team potential, and to use metacognitive questions such as “what could I do differently” to continue to improve. Not only do we ensure that our activity days are enjoyable and challenging, they are also jam packed full of useful techniques and tools which young people can take away with them and apply both in and outside the classroom to further their life learning.


If you would like to hear how our team can provide challenging team building days to improve student’s growth mindset at your school site, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call.



Richard Wise

As one of the main educational buzzwords of the last few years, those working in schools and colleges have heard and used the term “Growth Mindset” a fair amount. But what does this actually mean and how can it be applied both in and outside the classroom to enhance learning?

Psychologist Carol Dweck coined the phrase over 30 years ago to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. The contrasting “Fixed Mindset” assumes that intelligence and creative ability are natural givens that people are either born with or without. Research has found that students with this thought process see new events as a test and equate making mistakes with having low levels of ability, which can in turn lead to them deliberately choosing easier tasks for fear of looking bad.


Recently, there has been a positive move towards correcting these misconceptions after extensive studies proved that learners tend to achieve more when they worry less about looking smart and put more energy into learning. Key to cultivating this attitude is the idea that intelligence can develop, and that effort leads to success. When encountering something they are not able to do yet, students with a growth mindset learn more. This is because they see the struggle as a natural part of getting better at something. They are also able to recognise when they need help and are not afraid to ask for it from their teachers.


Backing up the psychological research is fascinating scientific evidence that people are actually able to increase growth of their brain neurons by the actions they take, such as using good strategies, asking questions, practising, and following good nutrition and sleep habits. Brain plasticity studies have revealed if students believe their brains can grow, they behave differently, leading to increased academic achievement which in turn can help narrow achievement gaps.


Outdoor education is a fantastic way of fostering a healthy growth mindset in students by providing a variety of challenges that are specifically designed to encourage appropriate risk taking. Young people are able to gain important and useful lessons even if a task does not meet it’s original goals as the learning outcomes are much more flexible. WiseUp Team Building strongly supports this ethos with a range of activities which inspire learners to capitalise on their setbacks in order to move forward effectively.


If you would like to hear how our team can provide team building days to boost student’s growth mindset at your school site, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call.