Tackling Loneliness and Isolation in Later Life: Improving Health and Well-being

Chronic loneliness, especially that faced by those over 65, is now being described as part of a UK-wide loneliness epidemic.

In Scotland, at least 10% of older people are thought to be often or always lonely. Loneliness is linked to poor health including depression, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system and an increased risk of developing dementia. New research also suggests that the financial pressure on our health and social care system from loneliness is substantial.

The Scottish Government are committed to producing a national strategy to tackle loneliness and isolation and are meeting with key stakeholders to identify actions to improve the quality of life for older people in Scotland. 


Join us at this Holyrood briefing on the 22nd of March to examine how future actions for tackling loneliness and isolation will be embedded in a national strategy and to understand policy priorities of the Scottish Government. Engage with good practice, learning what works for improving the mental and physical health and well-being of people in later life already and the impact this would have as part of a national approach.

Key issues to be addressed:

  • What impact can a national strategy for tackling isolation and loneliness have on improving the well-being and health of Scotland's people in later life
  • The wider policy context of tackling loneliness and isolation: health and social care integration and population changes 
  • Different approaches to tackling loneliness and isolation across Scotland
  • The role of different stakeholders such as third sector, community, integrated joint boards, NHS bodies and councils
  • What is currently working in practice and can your organisation learn from this


09:00   Registration and refreshments 

09:30   Welcome and opening remarks from the Chair 

           Marion Shoard, Writer, Author of How to Handle Later Life

Session 1: Policy Context and Update

09:45   SOPA Panel Discussion: Putting the Voice of Older People at the Forefront

  • How ageism and other discriminatory issues contribute to isolation and loneliness
  • Older people’s contribution to society, the economy and services 
  • How some older people have overcome loneliness and isolation
  • Suggestions for possible future action

      Tom Berney, Chair of SOPA

      Christine Wilson  SOPA Committee and Human Development Scotland 

      Rob Snodgrass, SOPA Committee and Grey Matters, Helensburgh and Oban

      Tim Puntis, SOPA Committee 

10:10   Scottish Government address: a national strategy for tackling loneliness and isolation

  • Current progress and future plans for producing the strategy
  • Wider policy and practice and progress made since the Equal Opportunities Committee Inquiry
  • The impact of the Social Isolation and Loneliness Fund

          Trevor Owen, Policy Lead, Scottish Government 

10:30   Loneliness in Scotland: Where we are and where we need to go

  • Key messages from the National Summit on Loneliness and Social Isolation
  • The wider context of tackling loneliness and isolation in Scotland
  • Priorities for the forthcoming National Strategy

          Liz Watson, Chief Executive, Befriending Networks

10:50   Questions and discussion

11:10   Refreshments and networking  

Session 2: Approaches to Tackling Loneliness and Isolation in Later Life

11:30  The role of third sector and local communities in tackling loneliness and isolation

  • The provision of interventions by community groups and how these must be reinforced by work of local public services, quasi-public bodies and individuals

          Derek Young, Policy Officer, Age Scotland

11:50   A Strategic Approach to Loneliness for Local Authorities

  • Making the case for a public health response to loneliness
  • How local authorities can take a strategic approach to addressing loneliness
  • How to apply the principles from the Campaign’s Loneliness Framework 

         Dr Kellie Payne, Learning and Research Manager, Campaign to End Loneliness 

12:10   A public health approach to tackling loneliness and isolation in later life

  • Research carried out by NHS Highland and how this informed the Director of Public Health’s 2016 annual report
  • The evidence-based recommendations to be taken forward by community planning partners
  • The benefits of a preventative approach to local Health and Social Care Partnerships

          Cathy Steer, Head of Health Improvement, NHS Highland

12:30   Questions and discussion

12:55   Lunch and networking 

Session 3: Sharing Good Practice 

13:50   Transitioning from work life to retirement

           Eileen Cawley, Scottish Pensioners’ Forum, Development Worker 

14:10    Drink Wise, Age Well - a Community Systems Approach 

  • Tackling alcohol use and isolation in later life in Glasgow: a multiple level, integrated approach
  • Targeting interventions towards at risk populations
  • A systems approach within communities for recognising, responding to and supporting older adults

         Julie Breslin, Head of Programme & Victoria Irving, Resilience Team Leader, Drink Wise, Age Well

14:30  Closing Address: Creating a kinder, more social Scotland  

  • The expertise and experience of the third sector for addressing loneliness at community and individual levels
  • A vision for a more generous, inclusive and outward looking Scotland 
  • Collaboration and partnership across sectors, agencies and communities

          Claire Stevens, Chief Officer, Voluntary Health Scotland 

14:50   Questions and discussion

15:25 Closing remarks from the chair

15:30 Close of event

*Agenda subject to changes


Location: NASUWT, 35 Young Street North Lane, Edinburgh, EH2 4JD | Map

Delegate Rates

  • Discounted rate: £149 + VAT (Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Reduced rate: £199 + VAT (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, professional associations and voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Full rate: £299 + VAT (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)

More information:

please contact Zoe Russell | zoe@holyrood.com | 0131 285 1692

22 March 2017
United Kingdom



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