Join Voice of Leeds summit and help make a difference

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This week the YEP launches its flagship series of summits to tackle some of the biggest issues facing residents across the city.

Over the course of the year, the YEP will host some of Leeds’s most prominent figureheads for a number of round-table debates on key issues affecting our communities.

Our first summit - to be held this Thursday - will discuss the scourge of social isolation, which is estimated to affect over 37,000 older people in Leeds each year.

City chiefs and community leaders will gather at the YEP’s office to discuss how best to address the issue of loneliness and find new ways to help stamp it out in Leeds.

And you, our readers, are being given the opportunity to quiz some of the city’s policy makers by submitting questions to add to the debate.

At the end of each summit, the YEP will draw up an action plan of ways we can work together to improve the city for current and future generations.

The series of summits follow on from an unprecedented response to a survey by the YEP last year which helped create a snapshot of life in the city.

Thousands of people responded to this newspaper’s Voice of Leeds survey to help highlight issues affecting their everyday lives.

Nicola Furbisher, managing editor of the YEP, said: “Our Voice of Leeds Summits 2015 are a first for the YEP and the city, and a great way to follow up on the findings of our survey last year. They will provide a unique opportunity for Leeds’s policy makers and those on the frontline to share their knowledge and work together to tackle the issues facing our city today.

“With each summit generating an action plan, we hope it will encourage everyone to get behind each cause and help improve Leeds for the future.”

The YEP is organising the series of summits in conjunction with Leeds Community Foundation.

Sally Anne Greenfield, chief executive of the foundation, said: “As a charity that is proud of the city, we are excited to partner with the Yorkshire Evening Post for a series of summits that will address some of the most significant issues.

“We hope these discussions will inspire positive change and highlight how everyone in Leeds can play their part in making a difference.”

The first summit will tackle the growing problem of social isolation.

Last year, the city secured £6m of lottery funding to help older people escape the grip of loneliness over the next six years.

Leeds currently has 246,000 older residents - 14,500 of them aged over 85 - with 37,000 thought to be described as lonely or isolated.

And it’s not just older people who are lonely, young people can also be left socially isolated when moving to the city.

Loneliness in the younger generation typically affects those in their teens to early 20s, who have moved out of home and are yet to establish their own networks of family and friends, or may be unemployed - in itself an isolating experience.

Thursday’s summit will look at the main barriers facing Leeds in resolving social isolation; ideas to tackle the issue and how the city could work together to deliver them.

Sally Anne added: “There is evidence that social isolation has a negative effect on physical health.

“Because of this we are placing a priority on social isolation, which will be the first discussion of the Voice of Leeds series.”

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