The British Society of Gerontology Emerging Researchers in Ageing hosted a seminar and workshop event at the University of Cardiff for a combination of stakeholders including new researchers from academia, third sector workers as well as representatives from older people forums. The day was split in two and the morning consisted of short presentations from emerging researchers.
Amy Murray, a PhD student from Swansea University spoke about driving cessation and loneliness in later life. Bethan Winter, a PhD student also from Swansea University spoke about social resources across the life course and how they contributed to loneliness. Then Jolanthe De Koning, a PhD student from Bath University presented on the social relationships between social connectedness, physical activity and health in older age. This was followed by Dr Robin Hadley who spoke about the life stories of older childless men.
A highlight of the morning was a speech by Mr Vic Brown from Mid-Wales Housing Association who spoke very emotionally about his own experiences of loneliness after he became bereaved. The morning session was rounded off by a presentation from Sian Llewellyn from Contact the Elderly who spoke about their programme of on-going tea parties in Wales for older people.
In the afternoon, Kellie Payne from the Campaign to End Loneliness introduced the Campaign’s work and spoke about the opportunities for people to join the Campaign’s Learning Network and Research Hub. She also highlighted the issue of loneliness as a public health issue and discussed the impact loneliness has on physical and mental health. This was followed by a workshop, based on Campaign materials on Combating Loneliness and was presented by Steve Huxton from Ageing Well in Wales. There were discussions in the workshop session about how to best identify the lonely and what barriers there were to doing so, and what interventions worked.
This was a great opportunity for researchers to meet with people actually working on the frontlines of loneliness and those who might be affected by it.