Generations must communicate to help tackle loneliness, minister says

Conversations between the younger and older generations will be crucial in tackling the stigma around social isolation and loneliness, an MSP has said.

Minister for older people and equalities Christina McKelvie suggested loneliness can affect anyone at any age as she announced the members of a new group who will advise on addressing the issue.

It follows the launch of the Scottish Government’s first strategy focused on social isolation and loneliness in society announced in December.

The strategy will be backed by £1 million of funding and will seek to build stronger connections between communities throughout the country.

The group includes a range of public and third-sector organisations as well as experts who helped to develop the strategy.

The members of the group were announced on a visit to Dunbar Grammar School’s “Cross Generation” intergenerational project in East Lothian.

The project has been running at the school for 16 years and includes monthly sessions for lunches, day trips and a film club with older members of the local community.

Ms McKelvie said: “As one of the first governments in the world to address the issue of social isolation in society, we want to promote positive attitudes and tackle the stigma associated with loneliness.

“It can affect anyone at any stage from any walk of life and that’s why we invited charities like Youthlink Scotland to be members of the group. The membership of the new group has valuable experience to help with this important work.

“Projects such as ‘Cross Generation’ are exactly the kind of activity which can help beat loneliness. It was great to see the interaction between the generations, both learning from each other and enjoying each other’s company.

“Contact between different generations can help build understanding, strengthen communities and allow the sharing of invaluable skills, experiences and perspectives.”

Alison Clyde, director of Generations Working Together, who helped organise the Cross Generation group, said: “We were thrilled that the minister could visit an intergenerational project herself to see it in action.

“The projects bringing younger and older people together are beneficial for both generations. They also tackle loneliness and isolation as well as being highly beneficial for all the community.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Scottish Government / PA Wire.