17 Jul 2015

Fight against isolation endorsed by Leeds ‘unloneliness’ conference

Health Wellbeing

Over a hundred and twenty people interested in reducing social isolation in Leeds gathered together at Leeds Civic Hall today to work out ways to help build and link communities and reduce loneliness.

The ‘Unloneliness’ conference saw leading specialists join in with local people, health and care staff, councillors and representatives from across the third sector.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, chair of the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said:

“We’re a city of almost three quarters of a million people, so it is hard to believe people can be lonely and isolated in Leeds – but they are. The Health and Wellbeing Board was determined to put our weight behind this conference and see what more we can do to help people be connected and enjoy the benefits that come from that.

“We have worked hard over recent years to use best practice as a council, working closely with the voluntary sector, NHS and other statutory bodies, but as we gain more knowledge we need to be making sure we are as effective as possible and ready for the future. So, as resources available to us are cut, we will continue to make a positive difference.

“Addressing social isolation and loneliness is a priority for anyone seriously aiming to improve the health of people in Leeds and I am absolutely committed to seeing this happen.”

Stacy Bostock from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation explained about the research the charity had undertaken on loneliness. She said:

“Volunteering is a great way to reduce loneliness we found. It brings people together, offers them new skills and provides chances to meet neighbours and build relationships. But we know that bureaucracy and regulations can be a real problem, and we saw volunteers having benefits stopped because of their volunteering and that’s exactly the kind of problem that can be a hammer blow for making a positive difference for people trying to break out of the cycle of isolation and loneliness.”

The conference also heard from Yorkshire Post journalist Lindsay Pantry about the paper’s award winning campaign on loneliness. Lindsay said:

“We worked closely with the Campaign to end Loneliness to see how we could bring this really important issue to the public’s attention. We know the damage loneliness can do to people’s health and wellbeing and we strongly believe that our newspapers can help build support for more attention to be focussed on the issue. We look forward to working with the council and other organisations and individuals to make this issue a priority for the city.”

Karen Gray, from Connecting Crossgates, said:

“Today was really encouraging. Working in Crossgates we are trying to encourage members of the local community to get involved in the work we are doing. People really want to do things in their community, and today showed that there is a commitment across the city to enable this to happen, which will be increasingly important as the effect of the financial situation has more of an impact.”

Key themes for the event included:

• Who needs to be involved

• What the city already does to help combat loneliness

• How links across generations could make us more connected

• Why it is vital to tackle loneliness in tough economic times

The event also heard from contributors Alex Fox, Chief Executive Officer at Shared Lives Plus, Lucy Jackson, a Public Health consultant with Leeds City Council and Sarah Alden, a social policy researcher with CIRCLE Leeds.

The conference was held on Friday 17th July at Leeds Civic Hall.

Notes for editors

Joseph Rowntree Foundation loneliness research is available at: http://www.jrf.org.uk/topic/loneliness

Shared Lives Plus website is: http://www.sharedlivesplus.org.uk/

More information about Connecting Crossgates can be found at: www.connectingcrossgates.com

CIRCLE details are at: http://circle.leeds.ac.uk/

Issued by:

Phil Morcom

Communications team

Leeds City Council

4th Floor West, Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR

Mobile: 07891 276270

Tel: 0113 224 3602


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Leeds City Council Communications team