News – A Connected Scotland
Tackling loneliness in Scotland
LONELINESS among Scotland’s learning disability community is almost 7 times higher than that of the rest of society.
The shocking revelation comes in the wake of the release of the Scottish Government’s ‘A Connected Scotland’ strategy to tackle loneliness and social isolation across the nation.
It is becoming clearer that social isolation and loneliness are an increasing feature of modern society and that vulnerable people are particularly susceptible to it.
In launching its ground breaking new strategy, the Scottish Government revealed one in ten people in Scotland admit to feeling lonely often. This figure compares to 69% of adults with learning disabilities, according to a recent LDAS survey.
LDAS’s 2017 survey also revealed 44% of adults with learning disabilities experienced isolation regularly, and that younger adults with autism and those in periods of transition in their lives are most at risk.
A spokesperson for LDAS described the strategy as welcome news that presents an opportunity to help transform the lives of many vulnerable people in a positive way:
“Our survey showed a very different social model exists for people with learning disabilities with carers and support staff forming the centres of their social connections as opposed to family and friends. Those with little support feel very cut off, while others are lonely when care staff leave.
“In asking for solutions, respondents called for a national strategy with more local activities, better transport, infrastructure and support to enable them to be more involved in their communities, as well as greater awareness of learning disability. The Government plans include all of these so we urge communities to consider learning disability needs when implementing their plans and help address this huge inequality for learning disability adults.”
The strategy includes a comprehensive plan with an emphasis on local community focused projects alongside a budget to help support initiatives. It gives emphasis to sections of society more likely to be affected by loneliness and highlights periods of transition in one its four priority areas.
The plans are aimed at making communities across the country more cohesive, inclusive, respectful and safer, enabling citizens to be more engaged, physically and mentally healthier, happier and more active.
In launching the strategy, Christina McKelvie, Minister for Equalities and Older People, stated: “Social isolation and loneliness can affect anyone – at all ages and stages of life. As our 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 wellbeing.”
There is no doubt the effort put into consultation, research and planning of the strategy and the £1 million of investment set aside for use over the next two years to build a collective capacity to implement plans is an investment in people and in health services in Scotland when one considers the detrimental physical and mental health effects caused by social isolation and loneliness,
which are comparable to that of smoking or obesity.
LDAS urges all those who can to get involved in their local communities with plans that are inclusive and accessible enough to be able to include people with learning disabilities.
LDAS will be happy to help support or advise local communities or to publicise projects in accessible formats or help in whatever way possible.
Check out the LDAS work on the 2017 survey on loneliness and isolation in Scotland’s learning disability community here , including our short film.