Leeds, GB develops an app to combat loneliness

The award-winning mobile app combines crowd-sourcing and geolocation with human-centred services to facilitate social outreach.

Leeds, GB develops an app to combat loneliness media 1


Leeds is fighting loneliness with an app and a map

The council is using smart city tech to help treat a modern epidemic

Leeds is fighting loneliness with an app and a map

Space Agency funding for Leeds app | Ilkley Gazette

AN AWARD-winning app that tackles loneliness in Leeds has secured funding from the European Space Agency.

Space Agency funding for Leeds app | Ilkley Gazette

Health app improving lives in vulnerable Leeds communities | Yorkshire Evening Post

A Pioneering outreach project which uses smartphone technology to spot signs of social isolation is improving the health of some of the city's most vulnerable people.

Health app improving lives in vulnerable Leeds communities | Yorkshire Evening Post

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

News from Leeds City Council

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


  • Social isolation and loneliness are rising across the UK. In Leeds, a study identified 37,000 people who were suffering from the condition.

  • The health impact of loneliness on a person can be as detrimental as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

  • The City of Leeds introduced Carveiew, an app that collects user-provided signs of loneliness in the community into a heat map and directs outreach workers to these areas.

  • After an initial trial and multiple awards, the app is being expanded to a broader area of use.


Even before it was mandated around the world, social isolation has been a growing concern in many countries, including the UK.

Despite an increasingly “connected” society, more and more people are experiencing loneliness and its symptoms, resulting in poorer quality of life for citizens and a public health challenge for local governments.

To combat this, the City of Leeds developed an award winning app that aggregates user-generated indications of social isolation, and uses them to direct in-person outreach efforts. The results have been promising, allowing city workers to conduct outreach more efficiently, and providing easier access to support and resources within the community.

Loneliness as a public health problem

Social isolation and the loneliness it causes have been increasing across the UK in recent years. In Leeds, the largest city in Yorkshire, a study found that more than half of respondents reported feeling lonely — and this was prior to lockdowns and social distancing measures. A similar 2014 study identified 37,000 people across the city who were lonely and/or socially isolated.

The impacts of loneliness are significant; it affects both mental and physical health. It can lead to depression and anxiety, and an increase in dementia and suicidal feelings in old age. One study found that lacking social connections can be as damaging to a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It’s also costly for local governments, and $ can cost around £12,000 per person in public service costs$ .

While loneliness affects people of all ages, one of the highest risk groups is people in their 50s and above. This group also $ tends to be less likely to report feeling lonely$ .

Many of the local and national public health efforts to curb loneliness focus on this older population. In Leeds, these include Neighborhood Networks — there are $ about 35 of these groups across the city$  — and projects like $ Time to Shine$ , organized by the Leeds Older People’s Forum.

These efforts are instrumental in addressing loneliness when it’s identified. But what about those people (the majority) who don’t report their loneliness? This is an issue, says Jonathan Hindley, an advanced health improvement specialist at the Leeds City Council:

$ People might be missing out on the support and help they need. If we can get them into a friendship group or find them some one-to-one support then their mental and emotional wellbeing will improve more quickly$ .”

To find these people, the city of Leeds turned to technology.

An app to map social isolation hotspots

The Leeds City Council partnered with the $ Urban Sustainable Development Lab$  to develop the $ Careview app$ , which identifies where socially isolated people may be, and provides the information to those working to combat loneliness.

Careview is designed to be used by public workers who are frequently out and about in the community, like police officers, housing officials, and postal workers. These users tap a button on the app when they see signs of loneliness — this can be excess rubbish, or a house that’s falling into disrepair.

This location-based user-generated data is then aggregated into an interactive heat map in the app, and shared with local loneliness outreach teams and charities. These workers then target streets or specific areas, and go door to door to engage with residents and provide resources or access to groups or support systems. (The data is anonymous, so outreach workers see color coded blobs rather than pinpoints on specific houses.)

The app also contains an interactive “Isolation tool,” which features resources and contact information for a range of issues beyond loneliness, including nutrition, money, and housing.

The next phase for Careview

As a result of Careview’s initial 12-month trial in Leeds, 67 residents (about 35% of those engaged) were classified as “$ experiencing unmet need(s) that would likely have remained undetected$ .” In other words, the Careview process of targeting outreach based on the app’s data, provided 67 citizens support they wouldn’t have otherwise received.

And while the app focuses on social isolation and loneliness, project evaluators point out that its opportunity for preventive support expands beyond these issues:

$ Careview could be rebranded as a tool which can be used more widely to help detect unmet need, with social isolation being only one instance.$ 

Other departments are considering how to utilize the app, such as the Fire Service for fire prevention.

Beyond the support for community members, Careview’s crowd-sourced, geo-targeted issue flagging increases the efficiency of government workers conducting the outreach.

According to Jonathan Hindley, it traditionally takes more than 100 outreach workers to go door to door on an estate, and connect with people suffering from loneliness. The Careview app, says Hindley, directs workers to the people who need help:

$ It saves time and it saves money if we can go straight to somebody who needs support.$ 

Careview has also won a number of awards, including the $ NHS Innovation Award in 2017$ , and the Innovation in TEC (Technology Enabled Care) Award. The app also recently secured funding from $ the European Space Agency$ , which will increase functionality and expand the trial to Bury and Wakefield District.

Combining tech with human-centred solutions

The success of Leeds’ Careview app is a good example of the effectiveness of marrying technology with human-centred services. This approach has been embraced by local governments across the world, from Clark County, NV’s hybrid approach to citizen services, to $ Ceredigion County Council, GB’s online mental health pilots$  and $ Santa Monica, CA’s wellbeing index$ .

As these projects show, technology can’t always solve the problem itself, but, when combined with in-person support, it can make those working to improve their communities more effective.

Additional Story Information



Leeds City Council, GB

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United Kingdom


Care View App

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