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Eenzaamheid (op den) buiten

Rural Connections Against Loneliness

A methodology for implementing actions against loneliness within the rural context, tailored and in collaboration with local stakeholders.


From until

Supported by

Met steun van ELFPO


The project “LEenzaamheid (op den) buiten: plattelandsverbindingen tegen eenzaamheid” aims to develop a methodology for addressing loneliness. This is done in a customized manner within a rural context, involving various local stakeholders and based on scientific knowledge.

We are creating a toolkit and an accompanying step-by-step plan to foster community connections in rural areas, with Neteland serving as the pilot partner. Through an intervision and guidance process, we provide different methodologies and training opportunities. These resources empower the five local administrations of Neteland to take action against loneliness within their own communities

Our role?

Promotor of the project


A unique approach is needed to combat loneliness in rural areas. The disappearance of basic services, social amenities, and associations, along with the increasing aging population and the presence of specific vulnerable groups (such as farmers and individuals in poverty), necessitates a customized approach. These are specific challenges less frequently encountered in urban contexts.

The overarching premise of the project is that an effective and sustainable approach to loneliness requires:

  1. Knowledge about addressing and preventing loneliness within a rural context.
  2. Tailored interventions.
  3. Collaboration among stakeholders (both professionals and citizens) at the local level.
  4. A combination of new initiatives and strengthening existing efforts



We are working through a supra-local intervision process in the five pilot practices – five rural municipalities – to enhance expertise in establishing rural connections against loneliness. We bring expertise related to addressing loneliness within the rural context and initiate a process in each pilot practice where we aim to improve or develop at least 2 actions or interventions against loneliness. These actions are based on both the local needs of each pilot practice and scientific knowledge regarding the approach and prevention of loneliness.

We are developing a guiding toolkit, which includes:

  1. Understanding what loneliness means in the rural context. Local stories play a significant role here. We also focus on participatory methods to engage individuals experiencing loneliness.
  2. Knowledge about effective elements within the rural context for combating loneliness.
  3. Using personas as a methodology to tailor actions and interventions specifically to the rural context.
  4. Providing training for local key figures on detecting loneliness in rural areas.
  5. Integrating the experiences from the pilot test into a step-by-step plan, allowing other local administrations and organizations in rural areas to utilize this methodology.



Lise Switsers

Driven by curiosity, committed to contributing to a caring society, enjoys listening to life stories.


Wim Wouters


Leen Heylen

Fascinated by the topic of loneliness and its management and prevention.