Loneliness seminar series launched at Sheffield Hallam University

19th April 2023

Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Loneliness Studies is teaming up with the Campaign to End Loneliness to host a programme of seminars throughout spring and summer

to explore the wider societal explanations for, and potential solutions to, loneliness across the life-course. 

The seminar topics include How can managers support staff out of loneliness?, Housing with care schemes for older people: addressing loneliness, reducing isolation and Loneliness, lockdowns and technology: lessons from research and practice. 

The series is online and aimed at practitioners, policy advisors and academics across the country. Each seminar will consist of two 15-minute presentations by an academic and non-academic expert, followed by a 30-minute discussion. 

Friday 21 April 2023 (12.00 – 13.00): How can managers support staff out of loneliness? 

Dr. Anna Topakas and Kate Jopling will present research into how workplaces can tackle loneliness. Anna is a lecturer in work psychology at the University of Sheffield’s Institute of Work Psychology. She will share insights from extant research and theorising on workplace relationships and the role of managers. Kate Jopling is a former director of the former Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness. She will present findings from a report commissioned for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Tacking Loneliness and Connected Communities which highlighted the role of business and employers. 

Thursday 11 May (12.00 – 13.00): Housing with care schemes for older people: addressing loneliness, reducing isolation 

Dr. Paul Willis and Kate Hunt, from Orbit Housing, will present their research into how housing schemes for older people can reduce loneliness and isolation. Paul is an associate in social work and social gerontology at the University of Bristol. He will present his research from the Diversity in Care Environments project in Bristol. Orbit Housing is a housing association providing over 46,500 affordable and social rent homes across the Midlands, South and South-East of the UK. Kate is an independent living regional manager for Orbit and will present her experiences of tackling loneliness via the services in their housing projects. 

Friday 16 June (12.00 – 13.00): Loneliness, lockdowns, and technology: lessons from research and practice 

Dr. David Clayton from De Montfort University will present ‘Like an unbridled horse that runs away with you’: a study of older and disabled people during the COVID-19 pandemic and their use of digital technologies. David will explore some of the findings and conclusions from his work, and consider what it means for future use of technology for preventing and alleviating loneliness in older people. Alex Palmer of Project Intimacy will present ‘Combatting loneliness through an SMS-digital experience’. Project Intimacy consists of a digital experience in which anonymous participants navigate a series of conversation starters, tasks and prompts with a stranger. It was formed in March 2020 to promote social interaction during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Dr. John Ratcliffe, researcher in Sheffield Hallam’s Centre for Loneliness Studies, said: “Loneliness can happen in so many shapes and forms, which make it difficult to understand, and even more difficult to help. In these seminars, we’re pairing academics with practitioners and policymakers to bring about new ideas for what we can do to genuinely aid people’s wellbeing.”  

The Centre for Loneliness Studies carries out internationally recognised, high quality academic research on loneliness that is theoretically driven and informed by, and able to inform, policy and practice. 

The Campaign to End Loneliness works to ensure that people most at risk of loneliness are reached and supported; services and activities are more effective at addressing loneliness; and a wider range of loneliness services and activities are developed. 

Chronic loneliness affects people of all ages and backgrounds and touches the lives of millions. It causes real emotional pain and can impact physical and mental health. It also has an economic cost in the additional health and care services that are needed by people who are lonely, and the missed contributions that people who are unable to connect could make in their communities. 

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