Scotland's first-ever strategy to tackle loneliness and social isolation announced today by the Minister for Older People and Equalities has been welcomed by a coalition of leading charities.
The new strategy broadly includes all of the key recommendations made by the newly formed AGIL (Action Group on Loneliness & Isolation in Scotland) to the Scottish Government.
Speaking on behalf of the AGIL group, Anne Callaghan of the Campaign to End Loneliness said:
“The new coalition of charities, the Action Group on Isolation and Loneliness (AGIL) welcomes the publication of the Scottish Government’s strategy to tackle loneliness and isolation.
“We are pleased that all of the key recommendations we made to help strengthen the strategy have been adopted, particularly the new cross Ministerial group to help drive the strategy and the formation of an implementation group drawn from civil society to progress it.
"The announcement of £1m funding spread over two years to test new and innovative approaches is a welcome step but more will be needed. The scale of the challenge is huge and it’s encouraging that the Scottish Government is looking at how other budgets can be used to tackle loneliness and isolation in Scotland.
“We are ready to work with the government to help make Scotland a more connected, less lonely, and healthier country and welcome their recognition of our group’s potential role.”
The AGIL group had campaigned for:
1. A cross-government approach delivered through the establishment of a Loneliness task force, with an identified Cabinet Secretary lead and cross-sector membership.
2. The urgent evaluation of relevant existing and future legislation to ensure the impact of policies on loneliness and isolation is considered as part of the legislative process.
3. Future proof Scotland. Seek ways to make demonstrable improvements to planning systems, housing, health and community policies to ensure Scotland is ready to respond to the significant challenges loneliness presents to our population, which will only be compounded by a growing ageing population.
4. Monitor trends and report back on progress to the Scottish Parliament annually.
5. Ensure there is a strategic tackling loneliness fund, which provides adequate resources to communities to build and sustain connected communities in an appropriate manner, building on what has gone before, which prevents loneliness and the severe negative health impacts that it can lead to.
6. As First Minister, convene a special meeting of business leaders to help kick-start ideas about the role that they can play in tackling loneliness from both a customer and employer perspective.