At I2I’s final conference earlier this year, partners showed how their work over the last three and a half years has led to lasting change in their neighborhoods and communities across the North Sea Region.

The pandemic supercharged the social isolation already felt by many inhabitants. I2I, with its goal to improve social inclusion and counteract loneliness, was suddenly more relevant than ever.

Several partners presented results that will lead to lasting positive change in their communities. With guests in the studio and inspiring keynotes delivered on screen, the final conference was a great success.

Project manager Ragni Macqueen Leifson introduced I2I “We have worked with the users to find out what their needs are. Based on this, we have tried to find new ways of using technology or delivering a service, and then try it out in real life together with the users. The partners have all learned from each other, and shared experiences and results. That is the way to overcome challenges like this”, and showed a short film summing up some of the highlights of the I2I project.

Loneliness is a major social problem in the Dutch city of Assen Janine Rinsampessy, project manager of I2I in Assen said “A neighbourhood survey showed that a large part of the middle-aged population experienced being lonely

This video, recorded especially for the end conference, shows some of the results:

Canal & River Trust used waterways to bring people out into the outdoors to reduce social isolation.

“Our projects have helped people get out in an environment that can offer a distraction, surrounded by nature and what that can offer” Sharron Bright, the Community Inclusion Coordinator.

“It’s all about working with the partners to find innovative ways to reduce the isolation in the communities, and make the communities more connected and happier”, added Sharron’s colleague Katie Logan.

See the following film to sum up their work in I2I:

The city of Turnhout (BE) chose the elderly as their target groups.

Turnhout learned that their senior citizens need someone they can trust that they can turn to. In October 2020, Turnhout appointed a link worker especially for the elderly.  A link worker is an outreach worker that works with people in socially vulnerable situations who are not reached well enough by the current services.  Link workers don’t wait for people to come to them, but have different ways of identifying those that need assistance. They also try to create a network around the vulnerable person.

Link worker Ils van Bouwel, explains her work with the elderly in Turnhout in this video interview with one of the seniors who use her services.

Arendal (NOR) “We have involved older people, the voluntary sector and municipal employees to map out what is important for them”, says professor Elin Thygesen at the University of Agder.

Working with the municipality of Arendal, they found that to be socially active, it is important for the elderly to be aware what is happening, to have somebody to participate with, and to be able to arrange transport there and back again

Arendal developed several existing solutions and services as an I2I partner; one being a digital communication solution called Komp. The municipality bought around 30 machines to trial.  Ingrid Kjørstad, a senior advisor in the municipality showed how the KOMP solution works:

Also at the conference were Elizabeth Casabianca, a socio-economic analyst at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre who spoke about JRC’s key findings of loneliness interventions.

Joseph Harrington, senior design and strategy specialist at Samhällsnytta at Karlstad University delivered the final, keynote presentation “Leading Adaptive Innovation”

Young carers cycle ride (Nottingham)

Ragni Leifson concluded the conference;

“I have to say that I am impressed by all the hard work and the results that the partners have achieved. I want to thank everybody that contributed to making this a successful end conference”