Managing Isolation in Lockdown: Building self-worth, purpose and learning new skills

Part 1 of our Isolation Guides (available here)  provided a 10-step plan to give us structure for managing our day and keeping body and mind healthy. 

Part 2 (available here) built on this by providing resources for self care – building emotional and physical wellbeing.

Now in Part 3, we offer further resources,  aimed at providing support to build our sense of self-worth, connection and purpose in the ‘new normal’ as we transition from lockdown. 


Research tells us that we are mentally and emotionally healthier when we have a strong sense of self-worth, connection to others and a sense of purpose. These build our confidence, motivation and self-esteem for how we show up in the world, how we belong and contribute. 

Learning new skills, visiting new places (virtually or otherwise) helps to create a greater sense of self-worth, connectedness and purpose. It’s just about knowing where to look online to find out more. 

As ever – whilst this is not an exhaustive list – Khulisa has done the searching for you! 

The following links provide learning and experiential activities and ideas to help you during this period through online  learning, volunteering and other digital opportunities.

Learn something new

  • Coursera – online courses for free 
  • Futurelearn: Free to access 100s of courses, only pay to upgrade if you need a certificate in your name (own account from age 14+ but younger learners can use a parent account). 
  • OpenlearnFree taster courses aimed at those considering Open University but everyone can access it. Adult level, but some e.g. nature and environment courses could well be of interest to young people. 
  • Duolingo: Learn languages for free. Web or app. 
  • iDEA Awards Digital enterprise award scheme you can complete online. 
  • Open Culture: over 1.500 free online courses from the world’s top universities.
  • MIT open courses: Explore a free library of MIT courses, material, and curriculum from MIT OpenCourseWare.
  • Database of online courses/MOOCs:  Directory of Free Online Courses and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered by different providers.
  • Academic Earth: Free online courses from the world’s top universities whether you want to explore a new topic or advance in your current field, you’re bound to find something here. 
  • Learn basic first aid: This 2-week course is a basic guide to first aid.
  • JSTOR: If you are academically inclined JSTOR is allowing free access to thousands of journals during lockdown. 
  • Headspace: People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. Learn about how you can practice gratitude with Headspace.  

Volunteer to help

  • Team London: The Mayor of London’s volunteering programme has a wide range of volunteering opportunities across London that can be completed in person and remotely. 
  • Furlonteer: Co-founded by the co-founder of Hello Fresh, the founder of The Luxury Communications Council (LCC) and an Associate Director of RSM UK, Furlonteer connects furloughed workers with volunteering opportunities at a number of charities. 
  • Adopt a grandparent: With coronavirus forcing many of us into lockdown and isolation, CHD Living Homes have set up the “adopt a grandparent” scheme to foster intergenerational relationships between volunteers and older people living in their homes. Once registered you will have regular phone and video calls with your assigned “grandparent.” 
  • Volunteer with a local food bankAcross the UK food banks need extra volunteers to help sort and pack donations in their warehouse, collect donations from supermarkets, and deliver food to people in greatest need. Find out where you can volunteer with the Trussell Trust.  
  • Volunteer with the NHS: There are over 300 types of roles in the NHS, with NHS volunteering you’re bound to find one for you. 
  • UN Volunteers: If you are interested in more international projects, the UN Online Volunteering Service  lets you search for projects around the world related to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 

Join an online group:

  • Meet Up:  Meetup, the fast and easy way to meet new people. Real-life community, online events. Millions of Meetup members connect to share common interests.
  • City Socializer: Citysocializer is a virtual events-based social network and community for people to have fun, stay fit and learn new things, making new friends and connections in the process.
  • Calendify: Calendify is a calendar community where you can share, publish and subscribe to event calendars. It helps you to stay informed about what you are interested in and what is yet to come.

Arts and Culture activities