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Award-winning app tackling loneliness in Leeds wins funding from the European Space Agency

Careview, an award-winning app that tackles loneliness in Leeds by flagging social isolation hotspots, has secured funding from the European Space Agency to expand its use across the city.

The app, which recently won a coveted Innovation in TEC (Technology Enabled Care) Award, was commissioned by Leeds City Council to help identify people at risk of being socially isolated. Careview was created and developed by the Urban Sustainable Development Lab (USDL) and Public Health in the council with the aim of helping users look for links between social isolation and what they observe as they walk down the street. Using the app, frontline teams of community development workers can flag signs of loneliness in neighbourhoods, such as post piling up or rubbish building up in gardens.

From this data, a secure heat map is drawn up that is available to all participating agencies operating across the city, including health professionals, police officers and charity workers. The European Space Agency funding will help add new functions to Careview so that outreach professionals can record their findings and actions when investigating the heat map. Additionally, it will help Careview explore new geographical areas of Leeds, and help identify more people in need of support.

To date, the information gathered by the app has dramatically increased the probability of teams finding socially isolated people and linking them with the services that can help them. It is estimated that, in terms of social value, the app could generate thousands of pounds worth of savings, particularly when deployed in the city’s 10 per cent most deprived neighbourhoods.

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Leeds City Council’s executive member for health, wellbeing and adults said: “Social isolation is a deep-rooted problem that disconnects people from their communities, leaving them difficult to identify and reach. Careview helps us find vulnerable people who need our support but do not access the services which could help them. From here, we can reconnect them and help them access the services they need through the existing networks we have in the city.

“I am very proud to see Leeds tackling this problem through innovation and the adoption of smart city technology, and I am excited to see the work of Careview continue to grow.”

Since Careview was trialled across the city last year, health professionals have been able to better coordinate and target outreach efforts to the streets where services are needed most. Non-health professionals have been able to support isolated individuals through the interactive referral and signposting tools found in the app.

Leeds City Council has worked closely with the NHS on Careview, with the latter providing funding to aid in its development. Additionally, mHabitat, a member of the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, independently evaluated the initial pilot, and NHS partners from Primary Care and the Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group have provided advice and support for the app.

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