Reducing Loneliness and Isolation – Home Start Orkney

lonely boy

Image from PxHere

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.”

Jeane Freeman Launch of consultation on Loneliness and Social Isolation draft strategy (1)

Jeane Freeman at the Launch of consultation on Loneliness and Social Isolation draft strategy in January 2018 Photo Scot Gov

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

homestartLocally, 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”

homestartIf you are interested in becoming a volunteer, or wish to know more about the service, please contact the scheme on 870770

or email:

Related stories:

Isolation and Loneliness

Home-Start Orkney


1 reply »

  1. You can know a lot of people, have a lot of interactions with people, and still be lonely because…you don’t fit in, or, you feel that you don’t fit in. No, I’ll stick with it – you don’t fit in.
    It helps a lot if you even just have one person that you can truly interact with – interact in a true way – but….many people don’t even have that one person, so…they play the parts, act as they think they should – appear to be in a whirl of social activity – are in a whirl of social activity, and yet are lonely, feel alone, because……there isn’t the true connection they hope for.
    I decided to stop agonizing about it, if I can, and just get on with life as it’s presented to me. I may be mistaken – but it works, for me. I, however, do have one person, but I empathise with those who don’t.
    Loneliness can be crippling. If you let it, it can cripple your interaction with people, as you feel that you have to ‘fit in’, or you won’t have anyone. My solution is to not let that bother me – only way I can deal with it. Be as you are – as long as you’re reasonably happy that that is an ok way to be – that you aren’t, intentionally, being a pain, and then – some will want your company – some won’t. So it goes. I honestly don’t think that trying to fit in, just so that you have a gaggle of folk around you, answers the need for real companionship. Real companionship is an elusive thing, and those who find it, are very fortunate indeed. Otherwise – make what you can of who you are and where you are, and those you come across who do want to know you. Value those you come across, that you can have a true connection with. Even if that is only one person.
    Dear me, that was a witter – maybe that’s why I’m lonely! Just trying to say some helpful words.

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