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Lancaster Loneliness Summit

20 February 2018

Some of the 50 pledges

On 6th December Lancaster City Council and Age UK Lancashire hosted a Loneliness Summit at Lancaster Town Hall to raise awareness on the part of Councillors of both the scale of loneliness in the area but also of the wider range of support organisations and activities available to help alleviate the problem.

The event was organised in response to a talk which Anne Oliver, Community Engagement Manager for Age UK Lancashire,  and Margaret Pattison, the local Older People’s Champion,  gave to the City Council’s Scrutiny Committee in April 2017.  The talk drew on the work of the Jo Cox Commission, a Age UKs Loneliness Report and Index of Well-being and the members agreed that there was a need to pass on this information to all local Councillors. An event at the Town Hall was agreed upon as a suitable way to engage with Councillors, local organisations and the public. 

Anne worked with Margaret and Jenny Kay, the Councils Democratic Officer to design and organise the event. After much discussion they agreed to have one afternoon event divided into two sections.  The first part of the afternoon was dedicated to school children and the second half to Councillors and the Public. 

We had no budget for the event and so all invitations and most of the advertising was done electronically via email, social media and local radio stations. The Council agreed to the use of the Town Hall and  the interest of local organisations was so keen that the event expanded until we had taken over the Banqueting Suite, Mayors Parlour, Council Chambers and Ashton Hall. 

The event went extremely well.  40 local organisations set up stands in the Ashton Hall and a phenomenal amount of networking took place.  Radio Lancashire broadcast from the Town Hall and interviewed Anne, Margaret and representatives of several organisations during the course of the morning leading up to the event.  

50 school children aged from about 7 to 18 years attended during the first half of the afternoon.  They  visited stalls, completed questionnaires, watched the newly launched Age UK “No One Should Have No One” film, listened to talks on Difference by a representative of Lancs LGBT,  by the carer of a gentleman who became very lonely when he went blind and by a representative of N-Compass about loneliness experienced by young carers.  Each pupil then made a pledge as to how they could help reduce loneliness at school or in their community which was stuck up on a display wall as part of a huge jigsaw.  

For safeguarding purposes the Mayor, Councillors and public were invited for the second half of the afternoon.  During this time visited stalls, listened to their choices from talks by organisations in two different meeting rooms and watched the “No One…” film. In all over 200 were involved in the day and we are grateful to Lancaster City Council staff for their cooperation and support. 

The outcomes of the day have been many and varied and we are working on a series of different cooperative projects in Lancaster and are in the planning stages for future events in Southport, Pendle and Ribble Valley.