England & Wales

SEMINAR: Reducing Social Isolation in Old Age through Community Engagement



Feelings of loneliness and social isolation can affect people at any stage in their life, but are particularly acute for older people.

  • Over 1 million older people say they are always lonely or often feel lonely
  • Nearly half of older people say that television or pets are their main form of company
  • 12 per cent of older people feel trapped in their own home
  • Over half of all people aged 75+ live alone
  • According to research for DWP, nearly a quarter (24%) of pensioners do not go out socially at least once a month.

Councils are at the centre of a ‘whole system’ approach, alongside partners in the health and voluntary sectors. They are central to identifying the key features makes it easy for older people to stay connected to people that are important to them.

Since it is predicted that between 2008 and 2033 there will be large increases in the number of older people living alone, particular in the 85+ age range, the issue of loneliness and social isolation is likely to remain high on the policy agenda.

In this Seminar we are going to look at Social Isolation as that can impact on well being and loneliness and consider what forms of engagement communities and local authorities can offer to address this growing problem.

Social isolation is an objective state determined by the quantity of social relationships and contacts between individuals, across groups and communities.

The LGiU has produced a Briefing Paper on Loneliness and social isolation in older people written by Carol Grant and this seminar will be associated with the work done in developing that paper.

Participants of this workshop will gain:

  • An understanding of the causes of loneliness and social isolation
  • How we define loneliness and social isolation
  • The impact of loneliness on the individual
  • The impact of loneliness on services
  • The importance of social networking and new technology
  • What can be done by local authorities?
  • Timely feedback and next steps

The programme*

The morning session will be focused on defining social isolation and its impact on older people. What is its impact on a growing elderly population and what are the consequences for service delivery We will also consider how social isolation can be tackled often in very cost effective ways through social mapping and community engagement.

The afternoon session will consider what can be done by local authorities and communities and we will discuss this through several case studies. There will also be time for open forum discussion so that attendees can tell us about their own experience and ideas over what can be done.

09:30 Coffee and Registration
10:00 Introduction to day and overview (Francis Sealey, GlobalNet21)
10:10 Loneliness & Social Isolation – The Problem In Perspective (Carol Grant via Video author of the LGiU Briefing Paper)
10:30 Discussion & Concerns of Those Attending around The Issue of Loneliness.
10:45 Speaker on The Scale of The Problem – Miriam Christie from Campaign To End Loneliness
11:05 Julie Wrigley- Making A Difference Through Engagement
11:25 Questions to speakers
11:45 Open Session – Discussion Around Attendees Experience and Ideas
12:05 Lunch
12:35 Overview of Afternoon (Francis Sealey)
12:45 Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age
13:05 Dvora Liberman – Storytelling & Engagement
13:25 Alex Kenmure from GoodGym. They match people who want to get into running with opportunities to do so by volunteering in their community, either by doing physical tasks for community groups, or by running to regularly visit an isolated older person.
13:45 Questions To Speakers
14:00 David Wilcox (Social Reporter) Digital Strategies For Combatting Isolation
14:20 Questions to speaker
14:35 Working Groups to examine ways forward
15:15 Feedback from Groups
15:30 Feedback on Day
15:45 Close

* This programme was correct at the time of publication but may be altered to reflect speaker changes that are beyond our control.

Event run in association with GlobalNet
Event run in association with GlobalNet
Francis Sealey, GlobalNet21, a former producer at the BBC for The Open University, Francis has extensive experience of engaging with local communities and the use of social media. Carol Grant is a former journalist and Director of Communications at Shelter and the Local Government Association. She has been a consultant since 1998. She writes regularly for trade magazines and online. She’s an executive coach and mentor accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Management. She is a Trustee of Active Sussex, promoting health and wellbeing and physical activity for young people and adults. Carol authored the LGiU Briefing Paper on Loneliness & Social Isolation. Miriam Christie is the Campaigns and Communications Manager  from the Campaign to End Loneliness. Miriam currently divides her time between the Campaign to End Loneliness, Careershifters, freelance commissions, teaching yoga, pilates and fitness and studying to become a Gestalt therapist. Previously Head of Campaigning at Four Colman Getty, Miriam led a team specialising in charity, social change, enterprise and b2b communications, with particular focus on STEM and diversity. Janet Morrison, is Chief Executive of Independent Age As Chief Executive of Independent Age, Janet Morrison has overseen a transformation of the charity’s strategy and service model to focus on national advice and befriending services and campaigning for older people. She is a founder of the Campaign to End Loneliness - a coalition of over 1,000 organisations which raises awareness of loneliness in old age and what works to address it. Janet was previously Deputy Chief Executive of NESTA - the National Endowment for Science Technology which promotes creativity and innovation in the UK.  Prior to NESTA, Janet was senior adviser on UK Policy at the BBC and before that was Director of Policy and Research at NCVO. Dvora Liberman trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art LAMDA, and the International School of Storytelling in East Sussex. She has a Master of Arts Degree in Life History Research: Oral History and Life Story Documents, and Documentary Film Making from the University of Sussex, UK.  She is currently doing a PhD in Oral History and the Law in collaboration with the London School of Economics and Political Science, and the British Library. Alex Kenmure works with Goodgym in Camden and they are working with 26 local authorities establishing an innovative way of supporting isolated older people. We match people who want to get into running with opportunities to do so by volunteering in their community, either by doing physical tasks for community groups, or by running to regularly visit an isolated older person. David Wilcox runs the Social Reporters Blog and has been working with NESTA, the Centre For Ageing Better and local authorities in looking at how new technologies can help combat social isolation. With Drew Mackie, David has developed social mapping as a technique to identify isolation so that connections can be made to combat it. Julie Wrigley is a highly skilled all-round researcher, adept in delivering both quantitative and qualitative research. Julie works with Qa Research and has explored with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation neighbourhood approaches to loneliness, exploring ways of reducing loneliness. It aimed to get people to talk about loneliness, what caused this, and what solutions they might identify and implement. The programme took a participatory approach, engaging community researchers in four varying neighbourhoods in York and Bradford.
Who should attend?
This workshop provides a meeting point for leading stakeholder and community engagement leaders and professionals, sharing knowledge, tools and strategies to achieve success in creating mutually beneficial outcomes for both themselves, their stakeholders and the communities in which they operate. It will be of value to those working in local authorities, colleges and the voluntary sector and who are engaged in building bridges across communities.