A leading Sheffield older persons’ charity wants to raise awareness of isolation amongst ethnically diverse communities in the city by hosting a unique knowledge sharing seminar.

Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care (SCCCC) says loneliness is a particular problem amongst black Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups, for whom language and cultural barriers exacerbate feelings of isolation already faced by older people.

Now SCCCC is hosting an event to help the rest of the city’s voluntary, health and social care sectors to better understand the issue and share knowledge from ground-breaking work it has been leading in Sheffield to tackle the problem.

Rehneesa Inez, who runs the Inclusive Community Care Project at SCCCC, said: “We already know that extreme loneliness has reached epidemic proportions in the UK, but for thousands of ethnically diverse people in Sheffield this is compounded by additional barriers.

“The charity, voluntary, health and social care sectors need to work together both to understand the barriers to services many people face in the city, and to develop creative, collaborative ways to remove them.

“We’re proud of our own work to combat the issue and look forward to sharing our learning from our work during the pandemic, as well as hearing from professionals at other charity and community organisations.”

Speakers at the virtual seminar include Shahida Siddique, CEO of Faithstar and DiverseCity Development Trust, Naureen Khan, engagement and quality officer from St Luke’s Hospice and Sarah NG, chair of Sheffield Chinese Community Centre.

The event will also talk about the impact Covid-19 has had on older people and how it has further highlighted underlying inequalities – not just cultural and language barriers – faced by BAME communities.

“Although there are a lot of similarities, within BAME communities, there are also a lot of differences. By collaborating with speakers from different communities who are very knowledgeable and experienced in their field, we hope to be a city leading the way in overcoming these issues,” Rehneesa added.

One in five Sheffield residents is from a minority ethnic background.  However, take-up of support for loneliness from the BAME community and engagement across the city is much lower than this.

SCCCC’s Inclusive Community Care Project is a two-year initiative paid for by the National Lottery Community Fund. It is part of the charity’s long-standing Good Neighbour Scheme, but adapted so that it is culturally sensitive and geared towards the needs of older people and volunteers from BAME backgrounds.

The virtual seminar will take place at 10am-12pm on Monday 27 September. To book a place, visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reducing-loneliness-in-sheffields-bame-older-people-tickets-169846803361