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Loneliness can affect people of all ages, says Leeds charity

Left to right: Dominique Dunand-Bill, Love Pudsey Charity manager, Laurence Wood, trustee of Love Pudsey Charity, and Deborah Gilbertson, manager of Cafe Lux.

By Roseann Hughes

RATHER THAN scaring people away this Halloween, the Love Pudsey charity will be tackling loneliness by inviting people to take part in pumpkin carving workshops this week.

The charity, which was set up by GPs in 2013, aims to make Pudsey a better place to live and welcomes people of all ages – including an increasing number of young people.

A Youth Café that was set up in January now attracts about 20 younger people each week who take part in different activities.

Deborah Gilbertson, manager of Café Lux, said: “Youth groups are really taking off. There’s always someone here who you can talk to.

“This is a place where people can feel comfortable.”

A survey by the Action for Children charity found that 43 per cent of 17 to 25-year-olds who used their service had experienced problems with loneliness.

Dominique Dunand-Bill is the manager of the Love Pudsey Charity. She said the different groups are led by the community, for the community.

She said: “Stories we hear about loneliness are all very similar – no matter what age you are.

“In to our Pudsey Adults with Time to Spare group, two ladies got talking to each other and now they’re the best of friends – you never see one without the other.

“Two of our volunteers at reception fell in love and now they’re living together!

“We also have a youth choir, and youth workers from Leeds City Council come in every Wednesday. It’s just £1 to come in and you get a hot meal.”

Café Lux and 22 other volunteer groups take place at the Robin Lane Health and Wellbeing Centre, with the aim of making sure no-one feels alone. Groups include art, singing and walking.

The Invisible Pain Theatre Company meet every Tuesday and are performing their latest production – all about Café Lux – on December 1.

The Jo Cox Loneliness Campaign is running throughout 2017, in memory of the Labour MP for Batley who was murdered in June 2016. Together with different organisations, the campaign works to combat the issue of loneliness, a national crisis that Jo felt very passionately about.

Danielle Grufferty is the coordinator of Jo Cox Loneliness Commission. She said: “It is vital that we all connect with one another. We’re asking people to be ‘happy to chat’.

“Jo thought we should start with each of us, which is why we use #HappyToChat and #StartAConversation.

“In December we’re going to be launching the commission’s manifesto – we’re shining a spotlight on loneliness and trying to show that it affects each and every one of us – even if it doesn’t directly.”

The Love Pudsey charity will be publishing a report, compiled by Leeds Beckett University, which will evaluate the groups at the Robin Lane Health and Wellbeing Centre, in November this year.

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