Social Enterprise: Local Game Store
Team Norse Thunder are on a mission to help young people from across the West Midlands fight social isolation and loneliness using the power of gaming. We help young people ignite their spark and find their passion, all while helping them develop critical life skills that really can change people's lives.
2016 saw Team Norse Thunder come together as a group of friends playing games, but the team has developed a reputation for helping its players qualify for and play at world championships and other high-level events, while also building fun grassroots gaming communities.
In the summer of 2020, the team secured a near-£5,000 grant from UnLtd to help launch a community-focused game store as a social enterprise. The venue provides a safe space for young people to come, make friends, and build a connection to those around them, and avoid social isolation and the problems it causes.
While the global COVID-19 pandemic has hindered the venue's physical launch, online events and competitions have been running on a regular basis and a community feel has been built around the Team Norse Thunder Twitch channel. Online events can't replicate the feeling of an in-person community, but they're helping give people something to look forward to being a part of.
Social Isolation and Young People
While many people take having a group of friends and close family around them for granted, many people lack those connections. Social isolation describes the lack of those connections and can see someone who's suffering from it staying on their own for lengthy periods of time, withdrawing from any involvement in their local community, and having little or no contact with other people.
Social isolation goes beyond the feeling of loneliness, and it's not 'just' a feeling. The condition has a real impact on someone's everyday life. It harms decision-making processes, attention span, long term memory skills and someone's physical and mental well-being. Studies have shown that social isolation can lead to poor sleep patterns and even health problems like cardiovascular issues and a weakened immune system. It's little wonder that employment and education prospects for those suffering from social isolation are lower than someone who is more engaged with the world around them.
Recent studies show around a quarter of young people often lack companionship and feel left out of things, while 27% feel isolated from other people. 31% reported feeling lonely often or all of the time and 7% felt isolated every day of their lives. With that many young people socially isolated, society is set to face significant problems to help them get back on track later in life.
Combating Social Isolation with Games
There are lots of causes that can lead to social isolation and the local game store venue works to combat each one as best as possible. For example, health problems and disabilities are known to be causes of social isolation in some cases, and so the local game store setting has been adapted to help cater for people who come along to join us, while dedicated, welcoming staff are always on hand to welcome someone into our community. Meanwhile, special ring-fenced funding also helps ensure anyone who may be isolated due to their financial or employment situation can still be involved, just like anyone else.
Team Norse Thunder's social enterprise project looks to create a space for young people to come together, build relationships and social skills while using the power of games as a tool to grow. Whether it's coming along to casual play sessions, taking part in events, joining the competitive team's roster of players, or working behind the scenes to grow the project, there's something for everyone to get involved in.