Scotland has become one of the first countries in the world to develop a national strategy to deal with the serious problem of social isolation.
To kickstart the strategy the Minister for Older People and Equalities, Christina McKelvie MSP, said the strategy would be backed by £1 million over the next two years to support and expand innovative projects and approaches to bring people together. Improvements to health and social care, more accessible transport and investment in digital connectivity will all help to create a Scotland where individuals and communities are more connected.
Actions within the strategy include:
Working with health and social care integration authorities to address social isolation;
Piloting an innovative housing solution for older people to test intergenerational and co-living arrangements;
Working with partners to raise awareness of the value of befriending;
Engaging with older age groups to understand how digital technology can add value to their lives.
Launching the strategy, Ms McKelvie said:
"It is known that social isolation and loneliness can have a significant impact on a person's physical and mental wellbeing, which is why we are tackling this issue with a preventative approach allowing loneliness and social isolation to be treated as a public health issue.
“It is the responsibility of all of us as individuals and communities, and within the public sector, local authorities and businesses to reach out with kindness and build a country where all of us feel welcome within our communities and valued as an important part of society."
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“I am pleased that the SNP Government recognises that social isolation and feelings of loneliness are not reserved to older people. In fact, loneliness is most common between the ages of 18 and 34.
“Sadly, 11 % of adults in Scotland often feel lonely and 22 % feel that they do not have a strong sense of belonging to their local community. A growing number of children are at risk of social isolation because of poor peer support or bullying.
“While the SNP Government is working across Scotland, we can all help combat loneliness together on a smaller scale. Something as simple as offering to pick up a neighbour’s shopping or inviting them round for a cup of tea can help build vital connections that are a lifeline to many.”
For more information, visit: A Connected Scotland: Tackling Social Isolation and Loneliness.