Trafford tackles social isolation

Social isolation has been linked to a number of illnesses including depression and can even lead to young people turning to extremism.

It is on the rise in the UK and experts are predicting huge problems with the condition in the future.

To help tackle the issue in our borough, Trafford Council held a special event with residents and expert speakers at Sale Waterside Arts Centre.

Trafford Unites: Tackling Social IsolationTogether took place on 18 January and followed the successful Interfaith and Community Networking event last November.

In short, social isolation is defined as having a lack of contact with family or friends, community involvement, integration or access to services. Socially isolated young people and adults can be vulnerable to criminal exploitation or radicalisation.

The discussions centred on four main topics:

  • How socially isolated individuals could be vulnerable to criminal exploitation or radicalisation
  • How to build resilience within socially isolated individuals
  • Understanding what services and faith communities are currently doing to tackle social isolation in Trafford
  • How can we work together in the future to build stronger social connections?

 A total of 55 residents from all backgrounds, including teachers and safeguarding officers, attended the special event. There were interesting presentations from a wide range of speakers.

Sgt Robin Knights, from Greater Manchester Police’s Counter terrorism unit, spoke about how people in society who are socially isolated could be vulnerable to criminal exploitation or radicalisation; Mandy Dennison, from Coaching Inside and Out, explained why young people feel socially isolated and Anton Penrose, of the MovezMovement, explained how youth groups build resilience in socially isolated individuals.

Also, Christine Aspinall, from St Johns Centre, spoke about how religious groups supporting people to build resilience and offering support to people who are feeling socially isolated. And Lilly Axworthy, of Greater Manchester Together, explained how community groups can become places of welcome for people feeling isolated.

Cllr Kevin Procter, Trafford Council’s Executive Member for Communities and Housing, chaired the event. He said: 

This was a very successful event attended by 55 people from across the board. The speakers were excellent and gave us all an expert insight into social isolation and how it affects people.

There were some really positive round table discussions on what it means to be socially isolated and what we can do to combat this awful situation. It is horrible to think that there are people out there who have no contact with family, friends or the outside world. People need to interact with each other and, when there is no interaction, there are problems.

People can become anxious and depressed when they have nobody to share their problems with. And, worryingly, it can also lead some into criminal exploitation or radicalisation. Having discussions about these issues is the way forward – we need to get this issue out in the open and come up with solutions.

Cllr Procter said there were plans to host similar events in the future in Trafford.

Posted on Friday 25th January 2019