The sponsored silence will urge people to switch off their phones, stay away from social media, hold a silent disco or simply sit in silence
A Scottish charity has launched a sponsored silence with a difference to raise much-needed funds.
Scottish comedian and broadcaster, Fred MacAulay, has given his backing to Age Scotland's latest fundraising challenge to Haud Yer Wheesht.
The leading national charity for older people will launch the Big Wheesht on Tuesday 1 September and is urging as many people as possible to sign up for a sponsored silence with a difference.
The fundraising challenge invites individuals, families, businesses and other organisations to choose an innovative way to Haud Yer Wheesht. Participants can be sponsored to switch off their phones, stay away from social media, hold a silent disco or simply sit in silence.
The challenge is fun but the message is designed to highlight the unwelcome silence that so many older people in Scotland live with every day.
Isolation and chronic loneliness affect tens of thousands of older people across the country. Recent Age Scotland figures showed that more than 200,000 older people can go up to half a week without talking to anyone.
The situation has grown significantly worse during the coronavirus pandemic, with older people who were shielding feeling increasingly cut off from family, friends and their community.
The Big Wheesht will raise money for the charity's free national friendship line, which is a life-enhancing resource for older people looking for someone to chat to and a friendly ear to listen. The more money raised, the more friendship calls the service will be able to offer those in need.
MacAulay said: "It is heartbreaking to think that so many older people in Scotland can go days on end without speaking to anyone.
"Age Scotland's challenge, the Big Wheesht, is a chance for us all to experience what it feels like to be surrounded by silence for a short while.
"But more importantly it is an opportunity to raise money for the charity's friendship line, which plays a vital role in the lives of older people who desperately want to hear a friendly voice and need to have a chat.
"By taking part in the Big Wheesht you are helping older people in Scotland to feel less alone and I am proud to support it."
Brian Sloan, Age Scotland's chief executive, said: "For most of us, the prospect of some peace and quiet might sound like a welcome break from the daily chatter. But take a moment to think about what it feels like to know that the silence won't be broken with a phone call or a knock on the door.
"That is the sad reality for more than 200,000 older people in Scotland who can go up to half a week without hearing from or speaking to anyone. We believe that figure will be even higher now for older people who have been shielding and endured four long months unable to get out and about or see family and friends in person.
"The severe effects of prolonged loneliness on older people's health include greater risk of heart disease, high bloody pressure, depression and developing dementia. We need to do everything we can to stop older people feeling isolated.
"I would urge everyone to sign up to the Big Wheesht. The more people who take part, the more money we can use to combat the scourge of loneliness and help older people at a time when they need support more than ever."