A Connected Scotland: tackling social isolation and loneliness and building stronger communities

This strategy sets out our vision for a Scotland where everyone has the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships, regardless of age, status, circumstance, or identity.

Case Studies

Befriending Networks

Research into befriending services shows that older people stand to benefit from volunteering services whether they are a volunteer or a service user. On average, people who used a befriending service reported feeling more connected, more interested and more mentally resilient than they did before the service. People also reported a significant change in lifestyle as a result of the volunteers who had befriended them. [41]

"I joined a group with my befriender and although she does not come each week now, we meet at the group and I have made more friends within the group."

Tesco, Maryhill

The Maryhill branch of Tesco has become a well cited example of people going the extra mile to help tackle social isolation and loneliness. Research has shown that supermarket staff can play a huge role in promoting community cohesion simply by spending a little time to get to know the people that regularly visit the store. There is also a part time community champion employed by the company to understand issues in the community and use the resources of the supermarket to help.

Hillhead Community Library

Libraries have been identified as an important service in addressing loneliness in old age [42] , and the Hillhead Library demonstrates that there is the ability for these services to have wider impacts in the communities. The staff describe the library as more of a "social space", and believed book lending to be a "tiny" part of their job:

"The majority of what we do is customer service in a much bigger sense. Some of these people have nobody else to talk to, so they come in here, which is nice, that they feel comfortable enough to come in and chat."

Link Up

In 2017-18 the Scottish Government awarded Inspiring Scotland a total of £660,000 to deliver the Link Up programme with local charities in deprived communities across Scotland. Link Up is focused on tackling social isolation head on by building positive relationships and strong social connections in local communities. It stimulates social participation and community-led action that increase community empowerment and resilience. At its core, Link Up strengthens social capital and local support networks which are essential to enhancing individual capacity to deal with complex challenges, such as those surrounding mental and physical health, and increasing personal resilience. Link Up's work supports the aims of the Building Safer Communities programme to help national and local partners and communities work together to make Scotland safer and stronger.

PLUS Perth and Kinross

PLUS received £17,033 through the Social Isolation and Loneliness Fund and aimed to target people experiencing mental health problems in rural areas of Perthshire. The project organised a variety of events, including poetry appreciation sessions, lunch clubs and a gardening project. Interviewees stated that the flexibility and focus of equality between organisers and attendees was an encouraging attribute of the PLUS events, making service users feel more comfortable participating. The evaluation of the project demonstrated a total increase in the social connections of participants of 960%, rising from 20 to 212 for the entire group.

Heart and Sound

Heart and Sound received £10,850 through the Social Isolation and Loneliness Fund to run a breakfast club for 16-24 year old males who were not in employment, education or training and were socially isolated for a variety of reasons. The project ran breakfast clubs twice a week and provided opportunities for the participants to plan their week in terms of volunteering and applying for jobs, making friends or socialising. Some sessions were aimed at allowing the participants to share what they had been doing to utilise their time positively. Heart and Sound also invited guest speakers with the aim of developing the skills and opportunities of the participants. The programme demonstrated clear successes with the number of connections reported by the participants increasing by 193%.


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