Successfull conference for social inclusion

25 May 2022 - Published by Walter Wehus
The mid-term conference for From Isolation to Inclusion was held in Aalst in the middle of May.

From Isolation to Inclusion (I2I) is a North Sea Region project that brings people from institutions and municipalities together to find new ways to tackle social isolation and loneliness.

The mid-term conference was hosted by the Belgian cities of Aalst and Turnhout, with an inspiring line-up of keynote speakers combined with practical workshops.

After a welcome by Karim Van Overmeire, Alderman in the City of Aalst, the stage was given over to a summary of the project so far by project leader Ragni Macqueen Leifson at the University of Agder.

“Despite starting the project during a pandemic, we have come a long way. We have generated lots of ideas, explored new ways to learn about user needs, and worked on lots of solutions. Now we need to take a step further and test these solutions in real life”, Leifson says.

Around 80 people participated in the conference, which was held at De Werf in Aalst, Belgium.

undefinedLeifson on stage.

Impressive keynote speakers

Among the keynote speakers at the conference were Hannelore Stegen from the University of Brussels, who gave a talk on social inclusion, exclusion, and loneliness in neighbourhoods.

Also giving a keynote speech was Jolanda van Gerwe from the initiative Join Us. She talked about making an impact for young people on social isolation and loneliness.

“I was really impressed by the keynote speakers. For example, the talk on definitions of loneliness, and how there are different kinds of loneliness, was spot on in terms of the project”, says Leifson.

undefinedHannelore Stegen from the University of Brussels on stage.

Conference workshops

Throughout the project, the international partners have been learning from one another, and exchanged ideas for social inclusion. Part of the work has been creating a baseline for social isolation that makes it possible to measure progress.

“There has also been much work done on the correct questions to ask – loneliness can still be an uncomfortable thing to talk about and admit to”, says Leifson.

The participants were also involved in workshops that were learning experiences both for the partners and the audience. Among the themes were service design and brainstorming on co-creation.

undefinedWorkshops at the conference.