Event aims to reduce isolation

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Experts in social isolation and loneliness will gather in Leeds tomorrow to see how they can make people in the city more connected.

The Unloneliness conference will examine what is already being done to help combat loneliness, and address how links across different generations could make people less isolated.

Leeds currently has 246,000 older residents, with 14,500 of them aged over 85. An estimated 37,000 of those can be described as lonely or socially isolated.

However, the conference will not solely focus on older people. It will look at how loneliness can affect anyone from children, to expectant parents and refugees - anyone who might, for some reason, lose a social connection.

Coun Lisa Mulherin, chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, who is hosting the event at Leeds Civic Hall, said: “Social isolation and loneliness can really make a difference to people’s health. People in our city who are socially isolated are as much as five times more likely to die early. That is one clear reason why tackling loneliness is a priority for us.

“We want people interested in loneliness and what we can do to prevent it to have a chance to hear from experts about good ways to improve things, and to inform how we help reduce isolation in Leeds.”

The aim of the event is to share ideas, best practice and different approaches to tackling the issue.

The YEP’s sister title, The Yorkshire Post has been campaigning to raise awareness of the issue of loneliness since February 2014. Lindsay Pantry, the lead reporter of the campaign, will speak the event.

Also speaking tomorrow will be representatives from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the University of Leeds, who have been working an index to map social isolation.