This is an issue which besets our society with many people living on their own in older age who might have difficulty going out. It is an issue which runs through all our work.
“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.”
Extract from ‘A connected Scotland – Scottish Government Strategy to tackle Loneliness and Isolation.
Faith communities play a vital role in helping people to maintain their connections and to feel supported. FiOP aims to highlight this contribution in strategic discussions along with Interfaith Scotland; Edinburgh Interfaith Association; Christians together against Loneliness and the Action Group on Loneliness and Isolation.
“Scotland’s faith communities play a significant role in supporting many of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. We greatly value and appreciate our relationships with our diverse faith communities and welcome their contribution to communities throughout Scotland, and we believe that people of all faiths, and none, must be supported to follow their way of life. To achieve this, we will continue to work very closely with faith community organisations, including those representing older people, women and other vulnerable groups who belong to minority faith communities. We also support Interfaith Scotland to promote interfaith dialogue and support faith and belief communities across the country. We believe that good interfaith dialogue helps to strengthen and enhance connections across communities, helping to lower barriers, eliminate fear and increase understanding”.(Extract from A Connected Scotland – p.41).
Faith in Older People in partnership with the Church of Scotland Guild has convened an Ecumenical Group which has addressed this issue by sharing experiences and good practice; heard from a range of voluntary sector organisations and responded to Scottish Government consultations.
FiOP is a member of the Third Sector ‘Action Group on Isolation and Loneliness’ and works closely with the representatives of the faith communities who are members of the Scottish Government Advisory Board. On-going work will include roundtable discussions on the progress of the Strategy and the bringing together of stories to illustrate the contribution of faith communities to support individuals who experience loneliness and isolation.