Social isolation and loneliness can affect anyone - at all ages and stages of life. As society changes, there is increasing recognition of social isolation and loneliness as major public health issues that can have a significant impact on a person's physical and mental health.
That's why we have committed to develop a national strategy to tackle it. I am delighted to present this draft for consultation, and I want to hear from everyone with an interest in this important subject.
Let me be clear at the outset that the Scottish Government recognises it has an important role in creating the conditions for change to happen and supporting communities to flourish and we are committed to doing that. That is why we're using this Strategy to articulate the range of areas across Government where we are taking forward work to address social isolation and loneliness and are asking for your views on what is needed to help change happen.
But the biggest impact can only be delivered if we enable communities themselves to lead this work. This is a key aspect of our approach to community empowerment and public service reform which recognises that people and communities know what is best for them. So we want communities themselves to tell us what would make that difference and to use this Strategy as a platform to drive change in their localities.
We know that getting support into local communities can make a difference. Last year's social isolation and loneliness funding demonstrated that grassroots initiatives, run by organisations firmly rooted within communities, can have a hugely positive impact on people who are socially isolated, or experience regular feelings of loneliness.
But this is about more than money or projects. The reality is that we all have responsibility to ensure that our communities are more connected and cohesive, and that principles like kindness get greater traction in society. Whether it is saying hello to your neighbour, taking the time to get to know a regular customer at work, reaching out to someone you haven't seen in a while, or just a small act of kindness that can make a strangers day - all of this can go a long way to helping everyone feel part of their community.
I hope that you will take the time to respond to this consultation. This is an important issue, and together, I believe that we can build a more connected Scotland where all of us feel welcome, connected in our communities and valued.
Minister for Social Security