Lonely? Let’s unite! News! | June 2023
July 4, 2023

On June 1, 2023, we had the pleasure of organizing the project’s activity conference. This day was under the sign of connection and almost 200 participants joined us to discuss the theme of solitude. In this newsletter, we’d like to tell you about the day’s proceedings and results.

Plenary session

The morning program was devoted to the presentation of the results of the project and also to the exchange of knowledge and ideas. For this, we had the pleasure to welcome several people and organisations:


Brigitte  van der Zanden: Director of euPrevent, partner of the project and member of a non-profit organisation and a Euroregional network that promotes the quality of life of citizens in the border regions of the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

Marja Veenstra: Lead project manager at Citizen Power Limburg and project coordinator of the euPrevent PROFILE project.

Luc Stevens and the KBO Heerlen for the play “Starlight”: One of the actions carried by the project is the setting up of theatrical representations around solitude. For this, we worked with Luc Stevens, producer and director, around the play “Starlight”. A part of the play was played during the day with an introduction by Mr Stevens. We also welcomed the KBO Heerlen troupe (a special interest group who was founded on 20 October 1988 with the main aim of protecting the interests of the older), which performs in Dutch for the project. 

Lise Switsers (keynote speaker) from the Thomas More lecturer, University of Applied Sciences, researcher at the Center of Expertise for Care and Wellness. She shared insights on a life course perspective on loneliness and inspired us to think more positive about loneliness.


The panel speakers:

1. Thomas Hax-Schoppenhorst (Germany): He is a speaker, author and publisher. From 2020-2022, he served as an expert on mental health in the Enquête Commission “Loneliness and its Consequences” in the North Rhine-Westphalia state parliament.

2. Dr Frans Verhey (the Netherlands): He is professor of Neuro- and geriatric psychiatry at Maastricht University, founder and former co-director of the Alzheimer Centre Limburg

3. Lise Switers (Flanders): She states the importance of adding a life course perspective in order to combat loneliness later in life. Nowadays she is conducting research at Thomas More on loneliness in relation to informal caregiving as well as on how to prevent and address loneliness.

4. Coraline Dubois (Wallonia): Socio-anthropologist, she has worked in the voluntary sector in the fields of continuing education and interculturality. For the past 6 years, Coraline has held the position of thematic referent for ageing and loneliness at the Belgian Red Cross. She provides methodological support and training for coordinators and field volunteers working with people made vulnerable by isolation, with a particular focus on the elderly.

Market Stalls

The afternoon was devoted to a market of best practices: 17 organizations came to present their work and activities. The afternoon was divided into two parts:

1. An organized meet up: participants were divided into small groups and visited the stands of 5 different organizations.

2. Free time for all participants to visit any other organizations.


Organisations of the fair/market

1. Happy ageing in Kerkrade, Neighbourhood link | Buurtschakels

Happy ageing in Kerkrade is an integrated approach in a neighborhood that focuses on dementia, loneliness and overburdened informal care. Two neighborhood workers/ neighborhood links form together a team and have a key role. One care worker/neighborhood link can have a general background in social work/welfare work; the other can work as a district nurse who has more specific knowledge and trainings about dementia. They coordinate casuistry with care providers and welfare workers/social workers.

Together, with other professionals and welfare workers, they form a core team. Among other things, the core team discusses cooperation and strengthens the connection, but this is also used for casuistry discussion.

The community links cooperate with the participants regarding the activities that are appropriate for them. Together, they identify whether existing activities in the neighborhood match their wishes and needs. If there is not yet a suitable activity, they look at the possibility of developing suitable support with the aim of preventing a participant from needing (indicated) care or delaying it as long as possible.

2. Digibank

DIGbij’s central and mobile digipoints are not only a lend-out service and a public computer room, but also a place for education and training in digital skills and media literacy with the mission of getting everyone digitally up-to-date.

3. Entr’Age

Entr’âges is an association whose mission is to promote links between people of different generations in a dynamic of solidarity and reciprocity. The association is also engaged in a work of sensitization and fight against ageism through the realization of events and projects on the whole of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.

The association also has a unique Documentation Center in Belgium specialized in the questions of ageism, intergeneration and social aspects related to ageing, accessible to all persons interested in this theme in a professional or private context.

4. BAGSO – The voice of older people in Germany 

BAGSO, the German National Association of Senior Citizens’ Organisations, represents the interests of older generations in Germany. It stands up for active, self-determined and healthy ageing in social security. In a colourful and diverse society BAGSO promotes a differentiated image of old age. This includes both, the various opportunities arising of longer lives as well as times of vulnerability and the need for care.

5. EuPrevent PROFILE stand 1

Literature review: Two comprehensive literature reviews were conducted during our project with the aim of determining prevalence and, on the other hand, discovering which interventions are effective in addressing or preventing loneliness.

Training module: A manual that provides a theoretical and practical background for people organizing a training module for professionals (e.g., nurses) and non-professionals (e.g., volunteers) to inform them about loneliness in older people and to provide them with useful tools.

Euregional Health Atlas: For several years a website has existed with specific information on research for the benefit of projects in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion (EMR). In the context of the euPrevent PROFILE project, information on loneliness is available.

6. EuPrevent PROFILE stand 2

Intergenerational guide: This guide provides an overview of opportunities to encourage intergenerational exchange.

E-health applications: Digital tools or (smart) applications with different goals, such as improving physical or mental health or providing information.

Inspiration guide: A description of what our project has achieved and what lessons can be learned from it. For example, a description of our literature reviews and our training module is presented on this inspiration guide. In addition, various other activities, such as the citizens’ summit, a theater production, and the development of guidelines on how to act as a professional or volunteer when faced with loneliness, are also covered in this guide.

7. Josja Biessen-Creatief Leven

In this course of eight meetings, participants gain knowledge about loneliness almost playfully and they discover what they find important themselves. Each participant maps out what he/she is good at and what he/she likes. This creates the picture of the change that the participant aspires. Each one makes an action plan and implements it. With this methodology, the trainee has an approach for life.

Creative Living is now recognized as well-founded. Josja Biessen is certified to teach the Creative Living Course. As a loneliness specialist, she is committed to a sustainable approach to loneliness. From Biessonder, she works as a consultant for municipalities and organizations, as a trainer for professionals and as a lecturer for Faktor5 and Meek 2.

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8. Regionalbüros Alter, Pflege und Demenz/Region Aachen/Eifel & Portrait Me

a. The Regionalbüro Alter, Pflege und Demenz Aachen/Eifel is part of a state-wide initiative for structural development of the State Government and the NRW Care Insurance Funds are.

The aim is to work together with local supporters to improve the care structures for people with different care needs and for family caregivers in North Rhine-Westphalia. The focus of our work is the information, advice, accompaniment, qualification and networking of full-time and voluntary committed people and organizations.

b. The concept of Portrait Me wants to contribute more to the social connection and stability between the generations. It is an artistic team against loneliness and for more digitization in old age.

This team consists of experts from various art disciplines aged from 27-70 years who have many years of professional experience in different fields: the field of sustainable design, performance art, painting, photography, video and film.

9. Interreg/EMR

With its three languages and five partner regions, the Euregio Meuse-Rhine is the most varied Euregio in the heart of Europe, but also the most complex. It actively engages in the initiation of projects by bringing together competent actors. The EMR connects, mediates and supports these actors and thus contributes to the success of cross-border cooperation between the partner regions across national borders.

10. Koordinatiestelle “Pro Seniorinnen und Senioren im Kreis Düren”

The district of Düren reacted to demographic change at an early stage by setting up the coordination office “Pro Seniorinnen und Senioren Kreis Düren” (Pro Senior Citizens District of Düren) in the Office for Demography, Children, Youth, Family and Senior Citizens of the district of Düren and offers counselling, further training and assistance on all aspects of old age. Another focus of the work is to support the initiation of offers and projects in work with senior citizens and in civic engagement. Events, campaigns and conferences are held regularly.

11. Belgian Red-Cross

The Red Cross is working everywhere to improve the living conditions of vulnerable people. Throughout Wallonia, teams of volunteers fight loneliness through organizing home visits and enjoyable activities open to all. Through collaborations with nursing homes, home care professionals and local authorities, people who need company are identified and a special attention is given to older people.

Older adults can be visited by local volunteers, if they wish to, and have the opportunity to chat, share a cup of coffee and go for a walk together. Volunteers take the time to listen, recognize the person’s history and uniqueness and help them to acknowledge it. The combination of individual and collective approaches helps people create new connections with other people in similar situations. The local anchoring of the volunteer network strengthens the sense of community and promotes a better intergenerational understanding.

12. SAAMO Limburg – Caring Neighbourhoods

Less gaps, more net: getting started with caring neighborhoods
In a caring neighborhood, needs of vulnerable people are identified and responded while at the same time the nearby network is strengthened. Not only can people ask for support. They can also mean something to others. In other words, “less loophole, more net”.

13. Yuugi

Created in French-speaking Belgium, SENRJ (www.senrj.be) aims at creating social links. Yuugi (www.yuugi.be) which means “Friendship links” in Japanese is its first project. It is a correspondence service which allows, in a reassuring framework, to make new acquaintances in the intermediary of the exchange of postal mail, e-mail or telephone calls.

14. Expression de Sagesse

“Expression de Sagesse” is an initiative developed in the Walloon region, in Belgium. This association accompanies seniors to fictionalize their personal experience and transmit it through children’s books that they create in collaboration with young illustrators. Writing workshops are organized in nursing homes. Each pair collaborates for several months and creates a youth album. This project is based on the idea that everyone has things to transmit and that someone can learn and create at any age.

The designing and reading of these albums create bridges between generations that have rarely the chance to exchange with each other. Meetings are also organized in schools between authors, illustrators and young readers. “Expression de Sagesse” conveys a positive vision of aging. This initiative aims to rethink the place of seniors in society as well as to enhance their knowledge and abilities through intergenerational exchange.

15. Kompetenznetz Gesundheitsförderung im Alter der StädteRegio Aken

Since 2020, the Office of Social Planning has been organising network meetings for representatives of municipalities and other organisations related to the topics of older people’s care/work and health. The aim is to jointly promote sustainable initiatives that improve the quality of life and well-being of seniors. Precarious living situations, which include loneliness and isolation, receive special attention.

16. KBO Heerlen

“KBO Heerlen stad” is a department of the organization KBO Limburg, which is socially recognized by the Province of Limburg. The main objective of KBO Heerlen stad is to promote the interests of the elderly. They have about 300 members. The amateur theater company that performs the play Sterrelicht is part of KBO Heerlen center and in addition, they present new plays every year where their Seniors for Seniors are in the foreground and thus provide a stage. Their oldest performer is 89 years old.


We asked Ingrid Ingrid Nouwens to create, on the same page, a drawing representing the central message of the day, as well as the main moments and subjects.


Inspiration guide

In this guide, we elaborate on this unique project, describe what our project has achieved and what lessons can be learned from it. We also describe the various activities that were organised as part of the euPrevent PROFILE project. This concerns scientific outputs, such as the literature reviews on how common loneliness is and which interventions help best. It also describes various eHealth resources that can prevent loneliness or address its consequences. In addition, this inspiration guide covers various other activities, such as the citizens’ summit, a theatre production, and the development of training modules and guidelines on how to act as a professional or volunteer when faced with loneliness, and how to encourage intergenerational collaborations.


Wil je graag een bijdrage leveren aan het euPrevent PROFILE project? Of misschien heb je een mooi voorbeeld uit de praktijk dat je graag wil delen?
Laat het ons dan weten via: communication@euprevent.eu