Natalie Cotterell

Growing old in the city: tackling social isolation in later life (working title)

PhD summary

This interdisciplinary PhD aims to advance knowledge and help to develop policy recommendations to reduce social isolation among older people living in urban environments. This project will involve the training of older people as co-researchers to identify examples of good practice to assist neighbourhood organisations in assessing the impact of social isolation amongst older people. The following research questions will be addressed:

  • What is the impact of social isolation on the lives of older people living in areas with high levels of social deprivation?
  • What are the benefits and limitations of neighbourhood-based projects designed to tackle social isolation?
  • In what kind of ways can older people themselves be involved in the co-production of policy and practice responses aimed at tackling social isolation?
  • What are the benefits of such work for local authorities, NGOs and private sector service providers concerned with addressing social isolation in old age?


September 2017 – September 2020


Humanities Strategic Investment Fund, The University of Manchester and Case Partners, Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation (GMCVO) and Manchester City Council. 


I completed a BSc (hons) in Psychology and International Study at the University of Manchester in 2014 with a year spent studying at Complutense University of Madrid. I then worked as a project officer for a third sector organisation which specialised in understanding the needs, experiences and concerns of people who use health and social care services with this information being used to improve services. I returned to the University of Manchester in 2016 and gained an MSc in Health Psychology with Distinction, winning two cohort awards ‘Best Dissertation Thesis’ and ‘Highest Overall Grade Point Average’, before beginning my PhD in September 2017.


  • Dr Kingsley Purdam
  • Dr Tine Buffel
  • Prof Chris Phillipson

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