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A CONNECTED SCOTLAND: Tackling social isolation and loneliness and building stronger social connections by The Scottish Government

September 28, 2018

At the start of 2018, the Scottish Government welcomed The Equal Opportunities Committee report on Social Isolation which was the first of its kind anywhere in the world. The committee found that social isolation and loneliness was a problem in Scotland, and recommended that the Government developed a national strategy to tackle it. This consultation is an important part of the process.

Social Isolation and loneliness is an issue that can affect anyone at any age or stage of their lives. Feelings of loneliness have been demonstrated to have wide ranging consequences for those effected. and has been shown to lead to depression across all ages, as well as cognitive decline and dementia in older people. There is also the potential for serious physical health implications which have been compared to those of obesity or smoking.

They want a Scotland where individuals and communities are more connected and everyone has the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships regardless of age, status, circumstances or identity. They see the role of communities as vital in achieving this goal, and have already began to empower them to make decisions that help them address their unique priorities. Because communities are so central to tackling this problem, it is important that the people who live in them get to have their say.

The Scottish Government’s new national strategy, which is one of the first in the world, is set out in a draft plan which will consider the causes of social isolation and loneliness and how they can be addressed. The paper also wishes to take the views of communities across Scotland into consideration and how in building on the framework set out by the Scottish Government’s proposals those most of risk have access to the proper mechanisms and support networks.

On launching the consultation at the Hidden Gardens in Glasgow, Jeane Freeman, Minister for Social Security said:  “Social isolation and loneliness can affect anyone – at all ages and stages of life….We know there is also a link between loneliness and poor physical and mental health and that this can impact on everyday life….We are leading the way when it comes to tackling this and will be the first country in the UK and one of the first in the world to develop a national strategy to address loneliness and isolation.”

Social Isolation and loneliness is an issue that can affect anyone at any age or stage of their lives.

The consultation document said feelings of loneliness have been demonstrated to have wide ranging consequences for those affected.

It has been shown to lead to depression across all ages, as well as cognitive decline and dementia in older people.

There is also the potential for serious physical health implications which have been compared to those of obesity or smoking.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Right Rev Dr Derek Browning said it was “good” that the Scottish Government had recognised a need to examine the root causes of the problem via a public consultation. Dr Browning said: “​Churches have, for generations, provided places of welcome and inclusion for people in communities up and down the land…..Churches, in an often fractured and isolating world, are amongst some of the few places where people of all generations can gather together…..In urban and rural settings churches, through a variety of organisations, groups, cafes and clubs, as well as worship opportunities, make it possible for people to share and be together….In my travels around the country, I have been struck by this wonderful service churches provide not only for congregation members but for all members of the community.”

Dr Browning said people, young and old alike, can feel isolated for a variety of reasons. “It is good that the Scottish Government is considering a loneliness strategy and recognising and working alongside the many community organisations, churches that have been providing welcome and fellowship to many different groups of people across the country,” he added.

“I welcome this initiative and look forward to playing a part in it.”

“Each and every one of us has a role to play in reducing social isolation, and your voice will help to shape the direction that the national strategy takes.”

It’s online here.

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