Feeling lonely and lacking social connections can happen to anyone of any age.

People are, by nature, social creatures so lacking enough social connection or friendship can have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing.

The pandemic has been a very difficult time when most of us have been physically separated from our family and friends or the people who support us.

It’s important that everyone finds ways to feel connected to other people. Whether that’s by keeping in contact with family, friends or neighbours; becoming part of a social group or network; or through volunteering.

Support for older people

Neighbourhood Network Schemes are voluntary sector organisations that provide a range of services, activities and opportunities promoting the independence, health and wellbeing of older people throughout Leeds.

Time to Shine Leeds runs a range of projects connecting older people in Leeds.

South and East Leeds Friends (S.E.L.F) is a social support service for people aged 50 and over who are experiencing low mood and high levels of social isolation.

Age UK Leeds offers a range of wellbeing services to connect people and reduce isolation.

Age UK – Befriending Services offer both face-to-face and telephone friendship services.

The Silver Line is a free confidential helpline for older people, open 24 hours a day. Call Silver Line for information, friendship and advice at any time of the day or night. Tel 0800 4 70 80 90 (freephone).

Age UK Leeds SWIFT is for older people who are frail or who have complex medical needs and are a high risk of being socially isolated. If you, or someone you know, would like to get connected, please contact Age UK Leeds and ask for the Swift service. Call 0113 389 3001 or email: swiftcitywide@ageukleeds.org.uk

Sikh Elders Service is run by Touchstone for Sikh men and women aged 55 and over who live in Leeds. The aim is to improve the health and well-being of older Sikh people, by supporting them to live independently and live fulfilling lives. The service includes one-to-one support and group activities, information, practical support and befriending. You can refer yourself to this service. Contact them by phone 0113 216 3143 (Punjabi line).

The Campaign to End Loneliness is network of national, regional and local organisations working to tackle the health threat of loneliness in older age. The website has information about Coronavirus and loneliness.

Groups and services for people of all ages

#runandtalk is a social running group for anyone who wants to improve their mental wellbeing through running. Joining the group would also be helpful for people with mild to moderate anxiety or depression. The group is supported by a local running club, Hyde Park Harriers, and has 7 mental health ambassadors with lived experience of mental health issues and conditions, who can provide a listening ear in a supportive, non judgemental environment.

Hollybush in Kirkstall is a great place to get outdoors and get some exercise. They have wildlife walks, gardening groups and also peer support workshops and courses (run by Leeds Mind).

The Urban Task Force project from New Wortley Community Centre is an outdoor community and environmental project. It aims to help people feel less isolated, as well as boosting physical and mental wellbeing. The group meets twice weekly and is for anyone aged 18 and over living in the Wortley or Armley area. If you’re interested in the outdoors, gardening and lots more, call 0747 241 5387 or email mike.sims@newwortleycc.org.

Mental Health Mates Leeds is a friendly peer support community group which meets monthly to walk, talk and share with others, without fear of judgement. Meet ups are held both online and in real life. In Leeds, they meet in Rounday Park near the Lakeside Cafe, or meet online for a chat using Zoom. Everyone has mental health so everyone is welcome! For the latest meet up information, email hellomhmleeds@gmail.com, visit their Instagram page @mentalhealthmatesleeds, join the Facebook group ‘Mental Health Mates’ which features activity for all groups, including Leeds, or visit the Mental Health Mates website for the latest walks.

Culture Club is for people with personal experience of mental health issues who want to see shows, plays, exhibitions, art events and more – with a friendly group.

Frazzled Cafe offers a safe, non-judgemental place for people who are feeling frazzled to meet on a regular basis to talk and share their personal stories.

Live Well Leeds – offers a range of services, including befriending. If you’re over 18, live in Leeds or are registered with a Leeds GP, and have mild to moderate mental health needs, you can refer yourself online, by phone, by post or in person.

Touchstone Support Centre is for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people who live in Leeds, who either have mental health needs, care for those with mental ill health or are at risk of developing mental ill health. The Centre supports people with a holistic approach that includes activity and social groups. Find out about the support they offer and how to be referred.

Mentally Healthy Leeds (MHL) is a preventative mental health service that works with people at risk of experiencing poor mental health. They aim to give people experience and understanding they can use to prevent problems developing or becoming too much to handle. Their service is delivered in a community development approach, so they treat individuals and communities as assets looking at what is strong, rather than what is wrong.

Reclaim project is run by Barca-Leeds aims to support people who feel cut off from the world, providing a safe space where you will be accepted and not be judged when talking about mental health. Project runs groups for men only and women only and other therapeutic groups such as mindfulness. Call 0113 220 9037 or email counselling@barca-leeds.org

Cloth Cat Leeds runs the Man About Town group for men in South Leeds, which has moved online. The group encourages men who may be socially isolated with creative, practical and fun sessions including both music and the digital arts. Groups and activities are available online, see their Facebook page or contact enquiries@clothcatleeds.org.uk. New members welcome.

East Leeds Health for all (ELHFA) Better Together works within the heart of Lincoln Green to support the local community to help address health inequalities, reduce isolation and improve physical health and wellbeing. It provides a range of community groups and activities that have been developed with their service users, listening to what they want, where and when.

The West Leeds Men’s Network is a project, run by Barca-Leeds, designed to help combat isolation amongst men in the Armley and Bramley area’s of the city. The Network takes the form of social groups, where members meet to share conversation over a cup of tea and a biscuit. The groups also play games, quizzes, have occasional guest visitors or have outings.Check out their Facebook page.

Your Space is a project which aims to support communities to support themselves and each other. It’s very much led by its members, from their ideas, their needs and (key to the success) their strengths. Your Space Leeds has has online groups and socials via their Facebook page including their Chocolate, Chill & Chat and Journaling groups.

People Matters run social groups that are open to people with learning disabilities and those on the autistic spectrum. Make new friends, go out for meals, go bowling, sing karaoke, play rounders in the park or simply enjoy a drink and a chat.…….. You decide! Call 0113 234 6896 or email info@peoplemattersleeds.co.uk. They also use Facebook and Twitter to promote their latest activities.

Connect Helpline offers emotional support and information every night for people in Leeds 6pm to 2am. Call Connect if you are feeling anxious, lonely, angry or just need to talk. Trained volunteers and workers provide compassionate, non-judgemental support and can give information about other services, if needed. Call 0808 800 1212 (freephone).

The Samaritans – open 24 hours a day, the Samaritans will listen and help you find a way through. From relationships to money, health or family troubles – you can talk about whatever is getting to you at any time of the day or night. You don’t have to be suicidal to call. Tel 116 123 (freephone)

Unique Minds – a group for Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) men who live in Leeds, run by Touchstone and Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service. The group meets on Thursdays from 3pm to 5pm at Touchstone Support Centre, Harehills Lane, LS8 4EX. Contact them on 0113 260 9328 or email Patrick on patrick.gatewood@lslcs.org.uk for more information and to arrange an initial meeting if you wish to attend.

Young Black Minds – a groups for male-identifying Black individuals, aged 16 to 25, who live in Leeds, run by Leeds Mind in partnership with Black Health Initiative. If you’re interested in joining the group or would like any more information, please contact and self-refer to Leeds Mind Peer Support on peersupport@leedsmind.org.uk or call 0113 305 5800.

Sisterhood – a group for Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women aged 16+, who live in Leeds, run by Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service and Leeds Mind. The group meets on Mondays from 12pm to 3pm at the BAME Health & Wellbeing Hub, Reginald Terrace, Leeds, LS7 3EZ. Contact them on 0113 260 9328 or email Shayam on shayam.elsherbini@lslcs.org.uk for more information and to arrange an initial meeting if you wish to attend.

Online platforms

Side by Side is a supportive online community, managed by Mind, where you can be yourself. It’s is a safe place to listen, share and be heard.

Clic is a free online community for mental health support, managed by Mental Health UK. You can find self-help resources and have a Quickchat, with more ways to join in being added soon. It’s moderated 24 hours a day to create a safe environment.