LONELINESS is one of the most pressing issues of modern times, an expert has claimed as he urges people to do all they can to stamp out social isolation.
Inventor and technologist James Batchelor has devoted his career to finding ways to help people to live productive, independent lives in their own communities for as long as possible.
Now he will join other leading voices in the field - including that of Dame Esther Rantzen - at a special Smiley Talks event designed to shine a light on the topic this month.
James, CEO of innovative technology firm Alertacall, which develops systems that promote daily contact with individuals, explained: “Finding ways to end loneliness and isolation within our communities is everyone’s business.
“This is something that affects so many people, it simply doesn’t discriminate.
“Yet there are steps we can all take as individuals to reduce its impact and its spread, things we can do collectively to bring us closer to driving loneliness out.
“This event is about bringing people and ideas together to talk about the changes that can be achieved to combat this huge issue.”
The evening - to be held in London’s Torrens Street on Wednesday, September 25 - is being hosted by The Smiley Movement which organises free, live events crafted to tackle social and environmental issues linked to UN Sustainable Development Goals 2020.
It will be opened by Dame Esther, campaigner and founder of the groundbreaking charity The Silver Line which bids to ensure older people have someone to talk to 24 hours a day.
Next, a panel discussion will take place featuring experts from organisations that are helping to find solutions to the issue of loneliness including Alertacall, The Silver Line, Childline and The Samaritans.
They will highlight positive stories of how people’s lives can be transformed with the right support, while James will talk about the ways in which technology can be used to increase the amount of daily contact individuals have access to.
It will be moderated by broadcaster and journalist Jane Little.
Everyone attending will be able to contribute and also take home ideas and tips on how to open and hold conversations about the often difficult topic of isolation with those affected.
James Batchelor added: “Loneliness is something that most of us will experience at some point in our lives.
“Left untackled, it can have serious consequences on both mental and physical health.
“But there are lots of things we can do.
“As a society, we need to talk about it more to find a collaborative approach to what is certainly one of the most important issues in society today - and bringing people together is a positive step in this direction.”