Provocative photographs of people in the grip of loneliness feature in a new exhibition designed to start conversations about why people feel lonely.
The pictures, displayed at Leeds City Museum, were taken as part of the Time to Shine project ran by Leeds Older People’s Forum’s (LOPF), which won £6m of Big Lottery Fund funding in 2014 to reduce loneliness and social isolation in people over the age of 50.
All of the people featured in the Loneliness Through A Lens exhibition attend three groups ran as part of Time to Shine, and the project aims to show people what support is available.
Exhibition organiser Hanna Wilcock, learning facilitator for Time to Shine, said: “All of the people featured in the photographs have different reasons as to why they were lonely and some of their stories are heartbreaking.
“We wanted to show that loneliness can happen to anyone and reduce the stigma attached to it - and also show that there is a lot going on across the city that can help.”
The people in the exhibition attend three diverse groups: Lycee Red, a group for Chinese seniors at Belle Isle Community Centre; Wetherby Wise Chatter and Batter, which takes place at Wetherby Social Club; and groups ran across Leeds by the BME Elders Network.
Miss Wilcock said: “These are three very different groups of people who have different reasons for being lonely.
“For the BME group, a lot live with family, but have very little social contact outside the home, but with Wetherby Wise, the social isolation and loneliness is linked with health conditions like dementia.
“One lady at the Lycee Red group came to Leeds in 1966 but still speaks very little English and told us she rarely went anywhere because people struggled to understand her. She travelled by two buses for 90 minutes to reach the group as it was her only chance to speak to people.”
Loneliness through a Lens runs until January.
The Yorkshire Post has been campaigning to highlight the issue of loneliness since February 2014.