Key Scottish charities are to be involved in implementing the Scottish Government's first loneliness strategy
Third sector organisations are to play a pivotal role in government plans to fight loneliness in Scotland.
Voluatary Health Scotland, Befriending Networks, the Campaign to End Loneliness, Age Scotland, Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Youthlink Scotland and Generations Working Together make up more than half the members of the Scottish Government advisory group tasked with addressing the issue.
In December 2018 the Scottish Government launched its first strategy focused on social isolation and loneliness in society, backed by £1 million of funding.
Minister for older people and equalities Christina McKelvie announced the members of the advisory group on a visit to Dunbar Grammar School’s Cross Generation intergenerational project. This project has been running at the school for 16 years and includes monthly sessions for lunches, day trips and a film club with older members of the local community.
McKelvie said: “As one of the first governments in the world to address the issue of social isolation in society, we want to promote positive attitudes and tackle the stigma associated with loneliness. It can affect anyone at any stage or from any walk of life, and that’s why we invited charities like Youthlink Scotland to be members of the group. The membership of the new group has valuable experience to help with this important work.
“Projects such as Cross Generation are exactly the kind of activity which can help beat loneliness. It was great to see the interaction between the generations, both learning from each other and enjoying each other’s company. Contact between different generations can help build understanding, strengthen communities and allow the sharing of invaluable skills, experiences and perspectives.”
Alison Clyde, director of Generations Working Together, who help organise the Cross Generation group said: “We were thrilled that the minister could visit an intergenerational project herself to see it in action. The projects bringing younger and older people together are beneficial for both generations. They also tackle loneliness and isolation as well as being highly beneficial for all the community.”
Claire Stevens of Voluntary Health Scotland welcomed the strongly collaborative approach the Scottish Government is taking to implement its loneliness strategy, A Connected Scotland.
“I want to see the new implementation group harness the experience, evidence and expertise of health charities and other voluntary, community and faith organisations, that see at first hand the damage loneliness and social isolation inflict on people’s health and that work so hard to address the issues,” she said. “I am excited at the prospect of working alongside colleagues from all sectors on the implementation group, to help build a Scotland that will be kinder, more compassionate and more inclusive.”
Sarah Van Putten, chief executive of the Befriending Networks, added: “Befriending has a key role to play here, particularly in supporting those who are already lonely or socially isolated. In representing the many befriending organisations working across Scotland, I hope to raise awareness of the benefits, identify solutions to some of challenges they face and ensure that capacity is such, that anyone wishing to can have the support of befriender."
Other members of the new strategy group include the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), Transport Scotland, Architecture and Place Scotland, and NHS Health Scotland.