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Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Scottish Tories call for national strategy to combat loneliness before end of year

Written by The Press Association

The Scottish Conservatives have called on ministers to deliver on a pledge to publish a national strategy to combat loneliness by the end of the year.

The government vowed to publish the new strategy, one of the first in the world, by the end of 2018.

The Tories said the wait since a public consultation closed in April was “disappointing”.

Now the party has put forward its own action plan to tackle loneliness, calling for a national awareness campaign and for more attention on the extent of the problem among young people.

The plan proposes to encourage people to check on their neighbours and get involved in the local community, and involves a Scottish National Loneliness Day in December.

Further actions put forward include teaching children about loneliness and the importance of social relationships as part of the curriculum, and funding inter-generational projects such as having a council nursery in an elderly care home.

The party also wants faster rollout of the community link worker scheme.

These are generalist social practitioners based in GP practices and the party claims 56 of the 250 the Scottish Government promised to employ by the end of the parliamentary session are currently in place.

Scottish Conservative mental health spokeswoman Annie Wells said: “Loneliness is a health problem which can have significant effects on those who feel alone, regardless of age.

“Particularly as we near Christmas there are many people who simply don’t have access to the company of others, or feel as though they are isolated, despite the many people around them.

“While the SNP Government’s consultation on loneliness was welcome, it is disappointing that we have had to wait so long for the results.

“The Scottish Conservative Loneliness Action Plan includes an increased focus on youth loneliness, raises awareness across the country and embraces new technological solutions to tackle this growing problem.

“As we near the end of 2018, the Year of Young People, it would be a fitting tribute for the SNP government to announce extra support to help bring different generations together.”

The Scottish Government said the new strategy was being published on Tuesday.

Christina McKelvie, Minister for Older People and Equalities, said: “We are leading the way in tackling social isolation and loneliness, as we recognise it can affect anyone, at all ages and stages of life.

“Our new national strategy is built on the consultation responses we received and is a major step towards building a more connected Scotland where social isolation and loneliness are reduced.”

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