Communities key to tackling loneliness and isolation, social security minister says
Social security minister Jeane Freeman launching the Scottish Government's loneliness strategy - Image credit: Scottish Government
Communities are best placed to tackle the problem of loneliness, said Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman, as she unveiled Scottish Government plans to deal with isolation.
The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on a new strategy to tackle loneliness and isolation in Scotland – one of the first in the world.
Views are being sought on the draft plan to address the causes of isolation, as well as suggestions for how communities can build on work by the Scottish Government to deal with the problem and ensure those at risk have access to support.
Isolation can affect anyone, but it is particularly associated with old age and with mobility or mental health problems.
As many as 100,000 older people are lonely and isolated, according to Age Scotland, and the charity had been calling for a national strategy that would coordinate responses.
Launching the draft strategy and consultation on a visit to the Hidden Gardens Project in Pollokshields, Freeman 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.”
Freeman added that while the Scottish Government has a role to play, she wanted communities and society to lead it.
She said: “We believe communities themselves are best places to ensure people who may be at risk of becoming isolated or lonely can access the support they need.”
The proposed strategy has been welcomed by the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission, which was set up in memory of Labour MP Jo Cox.
Co-chairs of the commission, Seema Kennedy MP and Rachel Reeves MP, said: “We are sure that our friend Jo Cox, who believed ‘Young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate’, would have been pleased to see the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackling the social issue of our generation."