A new network aimed at combating loneliness across the borough has been launched.
Delegates from the statutory, voluntary and community sectors were among those who attended the launch of the initiative which heard their collective focus includes raising awareness of loneliness, sharing best practice and learning on ways to prevent and address the issue, and encouraging championing of tackling loneliness in the locality.
Speakers included Dr Brian Hunter of Cullybackey Health Centre, Council Officer Alison Diver, who spoke about the Growing Communities project, Mary McCarthy of Glenravel Older and Wiser Women Group, Peter Merlarkey from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and Adam Hamilton of Carrickfergus YMCA.
Mayor Maureen Morrow delivered the opening address to the Ending Loneliness Conference, which was organised by Council in conjunction with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.
She said: “Loneliness has become a universal social and public health issue impacting on people at various ages and stages of life. Research suggests isolation and loneliness are as harmful to our health as obesity and smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
“Loneliness can affect anyone from teenagers and young adults, new parents, carers and recently bereaved, students at university, older people, people of all ages moving to a new area for a new job or house, older people and those with disabilities. Therefore it is a very positive development that we are now seeing the work of the various agencies who are committed to tackling loneliness across our Borough. I am confident that the Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network will be a significant step forward in this and look forward to hearing how the network progresses.
Sabrina Lynn from the Northern Trust said: “As part of Community Planning arrangements the Network will work together to increase social opportunities for people living in the borough with the purpose of promoting their health and wellbeing.”