£1m to tackle social isolation and loneliness

29 Jul 2021 04:10 PM

First round of £10 million funding for groups affected by pandemic.

Projects supporting carers and disabled people are among nine initiatives that are set to share £1 million to tackle loneliness and isolation as a result of the pandemic.

It comes as part of a £10 million commitment to support a new five-year social isolation and loneliness plan, and marks the delivery of a commitment for the first 100 days of this government.

The funding was announced by Minister for Equalities and Older People Christina McKelvie on a visit to meet members of the Glasgow Disability Alliance, which is receiving money for initiatives including one-to-one counselling and online courses designed to help disabled people stay connected.

Other organisations to benefit include Youthlink, which will receive funding to help young people, and Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, which will use the additional money for its Kindness Caller programme.

Ms McKelvie yesterday said:

“Research has shown that loneliness and social isolation have increased for some during the pandemic, and we know this has disproportionately affected young people, carers and those with disabilities.

“Whether by providing access to counselling, learning opportunities or just a friendly voice to talk to over the phone, this new funding will help ensure people can stay connected and get the support they need.

“Social isolation and loneliness can affect anyone and can have a harmful effect on people’s health and wellbeing. That is why we are developing a new five-year plan and we will invest £10 million across this parliament.”

Tressa Burke, Glasgow Disability Alliance Chief Executive, yesterday said:

“We welcome this funding to mitigate brutal inequalities supercharged by the pandemic on disabled people. Our member survey and engagement revealed that 82% worry about social isolation and loneliness, 60% face digital exclusion, 80% don’t know where to turn to for help and 90% are worried about physical and mental health. The funding enables us to provide vital lifelines, programmes and support including digital coaching, wellbeing support and access to online activities which build confidence, connections and ensure the ongoing contributions of disabled people.”

Tim Frew, YouthLink Scotland Chief Executive, yesterday said:

“We are not all in the same boat in the storm. The evidence is that this pandemic has been particularly tough on the wellbeing of young people in some of our most marginalised and disenfranchised communities.

“This disproportionate impact must be addressed, to ensure every young person has the opportunity to thrive.

“The youth work sector welcomes this fund from the Scottish Government, which will help to identify young people who have been coping with multiple challenges, such as young carers, and develop projects and programmes to meet their needs.”

Background

The organisations to receive funding are:

Within the first 100 days of this government Ministers committed to start work to develop a new five-year social isolation and loneliness plan backed by £10 million over five years focused on reconnecting people as Scotland comes out of the pandemic and tackling loneliness head on.

This is in addition to the more than £6 million investment to promote equality, social isolation and loneliness, and to promote digital inclusion through the Scottish Government's winter package of support.

The Scottish Government also invested £4.3 million to tackle social isolation and loneliness through digital inclusion via the Connecting Scotland programme.