Work to bring people out of the shadows of loneliness was celebrated in the city to mark the halfway point of a ground-breaking social isolation project.
It has been three years since the Time to Shine programme was set up to reduce loneliness amongst older people Leeds. In that time it has reached more than 7,600 people with projects including social meets, support networks, activity groups and befriending schemes.
Programme manager Hillary Wadsworth said: “There has been a lot of really positive work in Leeds and it was great to have so many of our partners involved in projects at the celebration to reflect on that.
“But speaking to individuals at the event also highlights just how much work there still is to do. Isolation and loneliness are such big issues.”
In 2014, Leeds Older People’s Forum was selected to be awarded £1m a year from the Big Lottery Fund’s Fulfilling Lives: Ageing Better programme. At the time the group launched the six-year Time to Shine initiative, led by older people, it was estimated there were 37,000 lonely or socially isolated older people in Leeds.
The Time to Shine celebration took place at the Leeds City Museum yesterday. It featured Yorkshire Dance project ‘Young at Arts’ which saw older people become involved in arts and culture, as well as new project In Mature Company, which is seeing dance and movement sessions delivered in care homes to those living with dementia.
Over the next three years, until March 2021, more projects will be launched to try and reach a further 7,500 people. Mrs Wadsworth said: “I think some of the stigma around loneliness is starting to reduce, with more people talking about it.
“If people go to a group once or twice a week that’s really positive, but it may be they don’t see anybody else those other days and that’s one of the challenges, looking at how we can support and encourage people beyond the activities.”