Social context

NB Names altered for anonymity

Loneliness can be defined as the distress or discomfort that results when we perceive a gap between our desires for social connection and actual experiences of it. One of the primary reasons that children and young people feel lonely is the inability to mix with friends in and outside of school. There are well established links between loneliness and poor mental health. In a recent review, loneliness was associated with future mental health problems up to 9 years later with the strongest association being depression.


Working with a variety of horses enabled Grace to build confidence and self-esteem
Group activities gave Grace the opportunity to build and maintain positive relationships and social contact outside of TSOC
Having been out of school for a year Grace achieved 100% attendance and fully engaged on all aspects of the programme
Grace fully embraced new challenges with a positive attitude

Background to case

Grace is a year 11 girl who attended our employability skills programme as part of her curriculum at an Alternative Education provider. Joining an already established group during lockdown as she had been out of education for over a year due relocation and lack of available school place.
Grace lives with her mum and brother and has no contact with her biological father who has mental health issues. Her family relocated following the traumatic, sudden loss of step-dad and Faith had become isolated following her relocation. She presented lack of confidence and social contacts and a history of difficulty managing her anger.
Grace presented as quite reserved about her personal life and her thoughts and feelings but was polite, mature and compliant from the start.

Process at The Seeds of Change

Grace was nervous around horses and small animals but determined to embrace the new challenges that were offered to her. Steadily, she increased her confidence by working with different and bigger horses and was soon able to support others who were less confident that her. She appeared confident to try but also self-aware enough to say when it was a step too far.
Her positive attitude to trying new things and completing all the activities that were offered, enabled her to build her confidence and self-esteem over time; this and how she supported others in the group enabled her to build and maintain relationships with members of her group that had a positive impact on her personal life.
Coaches tapped into Grace love of drawing and being creative in the classroom which motivated her to complete her work to a good standard. She also enjoyed mindfulness activities and was able to reflect on how calm she felt after completing these.
Completing practical activities gave Grace the safe space she needed to talk, and she was able to share details of personal trauma with others and reflect on her reactions to this and how far she had come from ‘how she used to be.’ Ultimately Grace was able to share her physical sensations of anger and make positive choices to request time out or walk away from potentially volatile situation.