Project information

Alleviating loneliness among single parents

Many single parents feel isolated and struggle to connect with others in similar situations. Improving our online forum will make it easier for them to connect and reduce loneliness. It will promote a sense of community among UK single parents, giving them a source of support when things get tough.

December 2017 - June 2018

Charity information: Gingerbread, the charity for single parent families

Gingerbread, the charity for single parent families logo
  • Need


    Single parents tell us how lonely they feel, particularly once the children are in bed. It’s hard for them to find others who truly understand the challenges they face. Most single parents manage on tight budgets. Socialising with other adults is tricky because of limited and expensive childcare.
    Nearly 10,000 single parents are active on our forum but it’s no longer entirely fit for purpose. It is hard to navigate and its structure can prevent users from building supportive friendships


    By involving single parents in the redesign of our new online forum, and improving the procedures and training for our moderators, we will create a safer space that single parents find easy to use and navigate. This will allow more single parents to connect with each other for support, advice and a listening ear. The opportunity to belong to an active and supportive community of single parents will help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, thereby improving single parents’ well-being.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To understand what single parents want from a safe, supportive online community


    » Conduct an online survey open to all existing forum users
    » Conduct 2 rounds of user research with 5 existing forum users in each round
    » Analyse findings and present in a report which will inform the next stages of the project

    What success will look like

    We will produce a report with clear and measurable ways to enhance the forum

    Aim 2

    To modify the forum on our website to improve single parent experience


    » To make changes to the forum based on the experiences and needs of single parents
    » Make iterative modifications and analyse data that shows improvements or alterations in forum usage as a result
    » Conduct user testing on the changes and respond to feedback to ensure the best experience possible for single parents

    What success will look like

    Success will result in a 10% increase in interactions on the forum over the 6 month period of the project.

    Aim 3

    Create a safe space for single parents


    » run refresher safeguarding training for all forum moderators
    » Refresh the guidelines provided to moderators in light of forum modifications
    » In consultation with single parents refresh our forum rules, user guidelines and policies
    » Re-examine our help and information posts to ensure clear sign posting is available for anyone in crisis

    What success will look like

    Single parents will feel confident that the forum offers a safe and supportive space measured through a short end of project survey

  • Impact


    By working closely with single parents to enhance the forum, we will create a more welcoming and easy to use interface that will prompt more single parents to engage with one another for advice and support. Single parents will have access to a strong and active network of peers they can turn to in times of need. This will help single parents feel less isolated. We will monitor and demonstrate our success through our regular membership surveys and through the number of interactions recorded.


    System changes can cause a dip in engagement before it picks up again, particularly for longer-term users who are used to quirks – so we will measure over the longer-term rather than seeing the first month as the indicator of success or not. Online forums can also present safeguarding challenges as vulnerable individuals seek support and advice, however we will deal with this risk with careful moderation and ensuring all staff are fully trained in how to deal with any safe guarding risks.


    Donors will receive three reports on the project:
    1.During the project we will report on initial findings and changes to our plans. 2. At the end of the project highlighting successes and learning. 3.6 months after project completion to report on the longer-term success and increase in forum use.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £20,147

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £2,717 Management & administration Overseeing the project and providing administrative support
      £6,516 Project delivery staff On the ground delivery of project activities
      £3,781 Moderation Moderation of the forum by trained staff
      £2,500 Training Training for staff moderators (including safeguarding)
      £1,500 Research and Evaluation research and evaluation of the project
      £400 Childcare Childcare costs for participants
      £2,733 Overheads Overhead and support costs for the project
  • Background


    As our project will be online we will have a national reach. The work for the project will take place in our head office in London; interviews and user testing will be conducted on the phone or in person where possible with a demographically representative sample of single parents. We hope this project will also help reach single parents in more rural and remote areas where they may not have access to many face-to-face services.


    Single parents do a fantastic job but we know it can be tough. We believe that those who will benefit most are isolated single parents who do not have a support network and may not know other single parents. We know this is especially important at times of sudden or unexpected change, such as during separation when the single parent may not know where to turn for help and or advice. Single parents tell us that it reassures them to hear stories from others who have had similar experiences.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Gingerbread is the leading charity working with single parents in England and Wales. With nearly 100 years of experience working with and for single parents we are trusted to listen to them and deliver what they need. We also already have an existing online forum which can be adapted and re-purposed for this project. Our website currently receives 635,000+ visits from single parents every year and our existing forum has 9,500 active users.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Poppy Gerrard-Abbott, Membership & Volunteer Support Officer

    Poppy oversees the forum and is an expert in moderation and community management. She’ll recruit users and ensure safeguarding compliance

    Faye Goldman , Head Of Communications & Digital

    Faye has experience of delivering successful digital projects. She’ll keep the project on track and ensure research and measurement are robust.

They were extremely difficult periods, you can feel quite isolated, even from close friends, because it’s difficult to find people who are in a similar situation with you. Even though they’re there they can’t understand the pressure you’re under.

Single parent