A Mid Scotland and Fife MSP has been highlighting the impact that funding cuts could have on those facing isolation and loneliness.
Speaking in a debate in the Scottish Parliament recently, MSP Jayne Baxter said the issue affects all ages.
Her comments come as the Parliament’s equal opportunities committee conducted an enquiry into social isolation and loneliness and the effects it has on those experiencing it.
The committee produced a report which contains a number of recommendations which Ms Baxter supports.
She said: “This is an issue which takes no concern of age, and is not unique to older persons. It is prevalent throughout all ages of society, but with a particular focus on the young and the old. “Misconceptions around social isolation are only part of the picture and we must continue to examine not only the reasons behind its causes, but also practical solutions to tackling it where it occurs.”
Jayne Baxter went on to address the impact that cuts to council budgets are having on service delivery for those affected by isolation: “Many people rely on these services, and it is often the case that the return on the investment required to provide them is more than matched by the reduced impact on other services.”
She continued: “We cannot allow politics to get in the way of delivering for those that need it in our communities, especially those that are isolated and lonely. We need to do all we can to help out and provide adequate support to those in need.”
Ms Baxter raised the importance of the voluntary sector in this area, highlighting the important work that is being undertaken by the sector and also raised the issue of access to transport and the importance that transport has for those affected by isolation and loneliness: “The lack of access to appropriate transport is one of the factors which contribute to social isolation and it is one which requires coordinated partnership effort and action by providers of transport services, local government and the voluntary sector.”
She added: “The need for such partnership working underpins any progress that we are going to make on addressing social isolation. It’s the connections between services that make the difference and I believe that this is most effectively managed and encouraged at a local level.”