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Tackling loneliness

Published: 10 Feb 2016 09:30

More than half a million to combat social isolation.

A new fund has been set up to tackle loneliness and isolation, Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil announced today.

Projects aiming to tackle loneliness will be boosted by £548k of funding, with the new £300k Social Isolation and Loneliness Fund aimed at preventing vulnerable young and older people becoming lonely or isolated, while an extra £248k will be given to well-established projects currently working to curb isolation.

Ten per cent of older people are often or always lonely, and these feelings of loneliness are linked to poor health, including depression, high blood pressure and weakened immune system, and an increased risk of developing dementia.

The funding was announced by Mr Neil while visiting the home of Patrick Etchels, a recipient of Meal Makers, a project which aims to break down barriers that lead to loneliness.

The project, which will receive £50k of funding in order to set up in Edinburgh for the first time, encourages people to cook an extra meal which can be given to an older person living nearby who may be at risk of isolation. Volunteers are connected with an older person who might benefit from an extra meal and company while they eat.

Mr Neil said:

"Social isolation can damage a person's sense of belonging, empowerment and contribution to society. We are committed to tackling this, and I'm delighted today to be announcing more than half a million pounds in funding in order to help do this.

"Loneliness and isolation is widespread, across all levels and ages of society, and there are no easy answers. We know there is a link between loneliness and poor physical and mental health, and impacts on everyday life. However, it is clear there is much positive work going on, and this funding will not only enable this to continue, but the new fund will allow further work to be done.

"Meal Makers is an excellent example of an innovative project to get people more involved in their communities, and is making a huge difference to the lives of those involved."

Michelle McCrindle MBE, CEO of Food Train, which runs Meal Makers, said:

"For the last 20 years Food Train has been devoted to improving the lives of older people via food shopping access and social contact. Meal Makers is something simple and easy that harnesses the fantastic human kindness of Scot's who want to share their brilliant home cooking with a neighbour in need, and helps us provide ever more support to older people living at home.

"By funding our project, the Scottish Government is trailblazing across the UK, supporting a nation-wide digital initiative aimed at reducing both malnutrition and social isolation together. Meal Makers really does help older people to eat better and feel better."

Notes to editors

In December 2015, around 1,200 calls were received to the Silver Line, a service run with Age Scotland with the support of the Scottish Government.

Meal Makers has received £50,000 to set up the project in Edinburgh. The project, run by charity Food Train, already runs in Glasgow, Dundee, Perth & Kinross and Renfrewshire. To sign up as a cook register on www.mealmakers.org.uk or contact 0800 783 7770 / hello@mealmakers.co.uk.

Projects receiving funding for 15/16 (totalling £248k)

Age Scotland Community Grants Programme - £80k

Age Scotland Specialist Connectivity Post with Silver Line Scotland - £34k

Befriending Networks – National Awareness and Learning Event - £15k

Meal Makers – Edinburgh Development - £50k

LGBT Health - £10k

Craft Café - £19k

Voluntary Action Fund – management and distribution of loneliness and isolation fund - £40k

Social Isolation and Loneliness Fund (Voluntary Action Fund) – to be distributed - £300k in 2016-17

Voluntary Action Fund will manage a £300k fund. This new fund will have a preventative impact on people from vulnerable groups who are isolated and lonely.