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ESRC Reimagining Loneliness Seminar Series

Loneliness is perceived as a 'normal part of ageing' and older people perceived as lonely and isolated. Indeed older people themselves expect to experience loneliness in later life and see it as a normal part of ageing. By focussing on loneliness and older people we have neglected wider life course and intergenerational perspective and marginalised research with young people; carers; those with learning disabilities; LGBT people and those residents in group settings. Specific academic disciplines such as those of the arts and humanities and philosophy remain largely invisible and there is a need to develop a 'second generation' research agenda bringing a more sophisticated approach to the study of loneliness, empirically and theoretically, and embracing a much broader range of academic disciplines and populations in order to inform the development of policy and practice based interventions. our seminar series focusing upon the theoretical, methodological and empirical perspectives on loneliness across the life course is both original and of academic, practice and policy relevance. We will focus on generating substantive state of the art overview of contemporary knowledge, identifying our key knowledge gaps, examining the evidence for policy and practice, developing 'new ' researchers and creating a network of experienced and emerging researchers combining with practitioners and policy makers to develop vibrant collaborations and a mechanism to raise the profile of this important area of work. 


Professor Christina Victor

Professor Christina Victor is Professor of Gerontology and Public Health and Vice Dean (Research) in the College of Health and Life Sciences at Brunel University, London. Her main research interests are focussed upon Ageing Studies and she is a core member of the Brunel Initiative for Ageing Studies (BIAS) within the Institute of Environment, Health and Societies. More specifically her research interests include health and health inequalities in later life; evaluation of services for older people; loneliness and isolation; the benefits of exercise and activity in later life and the experiences of old age and later life amongst minority communities.
Christina has published 13 books and over 200 papers in the fields of gerontology and public health and has a keen interest in promoting research and in research impact. Her initial work on loneliness funded by ESRC contributed to the development of the charity The Campaign to End Loneliness. She has published widely in the field of social gerontology and has provided numerous media interviews and expert briefings with policy makers, practitioners, politicians/ministers and older people on this subject. She is a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health and Editor in Chief of Ageing and Society, the leading European based gerontology journal.

Dr. Mary Pat Sullivan

Dr. Mary Pat Sullivan is a Canadian trained social worker with over ten years’ experience developing, delivering and evaluating geriatric mental health services in Ontario.  She is currently Division Lead for Social Work at Brunel University London. Her principal research interests are focussed around gerontological social work practice including geriatric mental health, dementia care, social isolation and loneliness, elder abuse and ageing without children.  She is currently Honorary Secretary of the British
Society of Gerontology and on the Editorial Board for the journal Ageing & Society.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas is a Lecturer in Social Work in the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at the University of Kent. His broad research interests include the diversity of contemporary family life, with a particular focus on LGB identities within family and other social networks.  Before joining Kent in January 2014, he completed a PhD in social policy at Cardiff
University, focusing on same-sex marriage and civil partnerships in the UK, Canada and California.  He qualified as a social worker in 2007 and had worked previously in central government, specialising in international policy in a number of departments including the Home Office, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Rachel Woodbridge

Rachel Woodbridge is a Health and Social Sciences PhD student/researcher at Brunel University London with a keen interest in loneliness research. She is particularly interested in how loneliness affects people in later life and with conditions such as dementia.  She has a background in Psychology and research with people with cognitive disorders such as stroke and her PhD project is looking at coping and difficulties at home for people with dementia. She's actively involved with loneliness research at Brunel, assisting with literature reviews and analysis of longitudinal data on loneliness in older age. 

Emma Harding

Emma Harding is a Research Assistant on the NIHR/ESRC funded study 'Seeing What they See' which is investigating dementia related visual loss and environmental interventions (UCL and Brunel University London collaboration).  She has
a degree in psychology and keen interests in qualitative methods, ageing research and the experience of living with a degenerative condition.


Dates of Seminar Series

Friday 8th May 2015 A glass half full or half empty?
Friday 30th October 2015 The perspective from philosophy and religion
Monday 22nd February 2016 The contribution of the arts and literature
Wednesday 16th March 2016 Will Self public lecture: Twenty years in solitary confinement: Isolation, solitude, loneliness and the composition of long-form fiction
Tuesday 3rd May 2016 Neglected spaces, places and excluded populations 
Friday 7th October 2016

Loneliness interventions: what works (and why)

Monday 5th December 2016