Monday 18th – Friday 22nd June 2018 is Loneliness Awareness Week
Home-Start Orkney is one of many organisations nationwide, and one of several locally, who offer support to people who are lonely.
This week the Marmalade Trust is highlighting the physical and emotional effects of loneliness via their Loneliness Awareness Week campaign, which they launched last year to highlight the prevalence and effects of loneliness.
The figures make for stark reading:
- 3 out of 4 GPs state that they see between 1 and 5 people a day who have come in mainly because they are lonely
- Loneliness can be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day
- The UK is the loneliest country in Europe (UK Gov Survey 2017)
- 1 in 4 parents state that they are or have felt lonely
This final statistic is something Home-Start Orkney is familiar with, as just over 40% of families referred to them for support last year cited loneliness as an issue. This isn’t confined to those living outwith the main towns of Kirkwall and Stromness in isolated pockets of Orkney, but also to those living within town boundaries, as loneliness can affect anybody, anywhere.
There has been much work and campaigning undertaken to highlight the effects of loneliness, including a report by the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission, and a draft Strategy drawn up by the Scottish Government. A Connected Scotland: tackling social isolation and loneliness and building stronger communities This will be the first of its kind in the world.
Jeane Freeman, Social Security Minister in the Scottish Government said:
“Social isolation and loneliness can affect anyone – at all ages and stages of life. We know there is also a link between loneliness and poor physical and mental health and that this can impact on everyday life.
“We are leading the way when it comes to tackling this and will be the first country in the UK and one of the first in the world to develop a national strategy to address loneliness and isolation.”
Co-chairs of the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission Seema Kennedy MP and Rachel Reeves MP, said:
“We welcome the launch of this consultation by the Scottish Government. We are sure that our friend Jo Cox, who believed “Young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate”, would have been pleased to see the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackling the social issue of our generation.”
The UK Government has appointed a Minister for Loneliness – Tracey Crouch MP
Communities across Scotland are finding innovative ways to reduce loneliness one such example being Cycling Without Age.
Watch: Cycling Without Age
£300,000 was made available to local communities to set up a Cycling Without Age scheme. First started in Denmark the scheme gets people of all ages out and about and more active. In Scotland the areas who have successfully been funded by the Scottish Government are: East Lothian, Falkirk, Highlands and Islands, Perth and Kinross, and the Scottish Borders. Further CWA projects are also due to live soon in Fife, South Ayrshire and West Lothian.
Cycling Without Age Scotland Executive Officer Christine Bell said:
“We are delighted the Scottish Government is supporting the need in communities across Scotland for this simple yet powerful initiative. In a society with a growing number of elderly people living in care or alone at home, this project addresses many social and wellbeing concerns.
“The act of two passengers sharing a trishaw, along with the volunteer pilots, creates new relationships and friendships, which has proven to be one of the most valuable aspects of this project, elderly people are brought back into community life, stories are shared and health, and wellbeing improves for everyone involved.”
Home Start Orkney
Locally, there are voluntary organisations offering support and friendship to those affected, including Home-Start Orkney.
The support given by Home-Start Orkney is through a team of home-visiting volunteer befrienders, who are parents themselves. They all receive an initial course of preparation prior to being matched with a family, whom they then support for 2-3 hours each week. This support is monitored by the service Co-ordinators.
Senior Co-ordinator, Erika Copland, said:
“Our service is very much one parent supporting another, a relationship which is managed behind the scenes by staff. It is the volunteer who makes the real difference to a family’s life – it can’t be under-estimated the difference two to three hours each week can make to parents and their children.
“For anybody who has struggled when their children were younger, who remembers how difficult parenting can be at times, then you have the qualities we look for in our volunteers – it is a very rewarding thing to do.”
“The volunteers support the parents, and children, encouraging and helping them to build connections within the community, gradually increasing their peer support network, and inclusion in community life. It really is heartening to see the difference that can be made to folks’ lives”
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, or wish to know more about the service, please contact the scheme on 870770
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org