A young Bradford filmmaker who was moved by research highlighting the devastating reach of loneliness will have her film shown to community groups and on big screens in her home city to show those affected that they are not alone.
Suman Hanif’s film explores the stories of four people, of different ages and backgrounds, who are intensely lonely.
She was commissioned by the production company at Bradford City of Film to make the documentary, after they were impressed by a previous film she made, Plates, which focused on food waste and food poverty.
Mrs Hanif, 23, worked with Age UK Bradford and District in making the film, which will be launched in January with screenings at community cinema groups before being shown on the big screen in City Park throughout February.
Mrs Hanif, who first became involved with Bradford City of Film when she volunteered during studying for her degree in filmmaking at Bradford College, said: “When I first became aware of loneliness as an issue I was shocked at how big it really was. Some of the statistics, such as Britain being the loneliest country in Europe, stunned me.
“When I began talking to people around me about it, I was shocked by how many people I knew said they’d been lonely.
“It seemed like we could talk about cancer, mental health or abuse, but when it came to loneliness, we found it hard to express.”
In the film, four people share their stories, two older ladies, a 24-year-old man, and Josephine Gale, who is in her 40s and began feeling lonely when her son was born with a disability when they lived in India.
Mrs Gale, from Bradford, said: “People are silently suffering when help is available in our country for both gender, different ages, ethnicity, disability, religion and race. I came forward to encourage other ethnic minority women to speak up about loneliness and seek help for themselves.
“If you do feel lonely you must speak to somebody for help because if you don’t then that can deteriorate your health and mental wellbeing.”
Age UK Bradford and District chief executive, Mark Rounding said he welcomed the chance to get involved with the film which portrays “the very real impact of loneliness on people’s lives, both young and old”.
He said: “For a growing number of people, particularly those in later life, loneliness can define their lives and have a significant impact on their wellbeing.
“The loss of loved ones and lifelong friends, family members moving away, ill health or the onset of long term conditions, changing circumstances and home life, means that loneliness doesn’t pass but becomes part of everyday living, or how many lonely people describe it, everyday existence.
“We hope that this hard-hitting film will bring home to everyone that sees it the responsibilities we all have to combat the loneliness faced by people in our own communities and families.”
Director of Bradford UNESCO City of Film, David Wilson, said: “As a UNESCO designated City of Film we are using the moving image on a regular basis to try to inform people and ultimately makes their lives better as a result. The film is both moving and informative and everyone involved in the project now view this subject very differently.”
The Yorkshire Post has been campaigning to highlight the issue of loneliness, which is as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, since 2014.