The British Red Cross have urged young Scots in need of support to contact its Connecting With You service.
Loneliness is on the rise in Scotland with more than half of people restricting how much they socialise as the cost of living goes up, new research for the British Red Cross has found.
A new online YouGov opinion poll for the charity found that 30 per cent of people feel lonelier than this time last year, despite the easing of Covid restrictions, and at a time when cases are on the rise again.
The overwhelming majority of Scots (84 per cent) agree that loneliness is still a problem now even though restrictions have lifted, and 59 per cent said they sometimes, often or always feel lonely.
Most people (89 per cent) agreed that the increased cost of living will make more people lonely, and 53 per cent said they are restricting how much they socialise because the cost of living is going up.
With Loneliness Awareness Week underway across the UK, the British Red Cross has encouraged Scots who are experiencing social isolation to contact its Connecting With You service, which is funded by the Scottish Government.
Experienced volunteers help people to reconnect with their local community by providing telephone, online, and in-person support to help rebuild their confidence, feel better connected, and more involved in their local community.
Kenneth Watt, policy and public affairs manager with the British Red Cross, said: “Too many people are lonely in Scotland, and this has only got worse since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“These latest findings show that the rising cost of living is also leading to greater social isolation.
“Everybody can get lonely, but there are many simple steps to better protect people from loneliness and we are committed to ensuring that people have somewhere to turn to.
The Red Cross would like to see the Scottish Government expand this approach and put even greater emphasis on health solutions like social prescribing services that seek to put people in touch with groups and activities that enable them to make quality connections.
The charity also calls on ministers to explore how further support can be targeted at the most vulnerable people who are struggling alone, and to take steps to provide access to internet or mobile technology that can enable people to connect online.
Mr Watt added: “Now is the time to think about the kind of society we want to become as we face these challenges and emerge from them on the other side.
“It is vital that support is targeted at the most vulnerable and that further efforts are made to ensure all of us enjoy those quality human connections that enrich our lives.”
If you are aged 18 and over, living in Scotland and experiencing loneliness or social isolation, contact the Connecting With You service on 0300 30 36 077 between 10am – 4pm, Monday to Friday.