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An unprecedented number of leading charities have come together to call on Nicola Sturgeon to lead from the front and ensure Scotland becomes the world leader in tackling loneliness and isolation.
The new Action Group on Isolation & Loneliness in Scotland (AGIL), is made up of Age Scotland, Befriending Networks, British Red Cross, Campaign to End Loneliness, Chest Heart and Stoke Scotland, Community Transport, Contact the Elderly, Eden Project Communities, Health in Mind, Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded – all of which are working to tackling loneliness and social isolation across Scotland.
It is now three years since the landmark Scottish Parliament’s Equalities Committee report which called on the Scottish Government to develop a Loneliness Strategy.
Two weeks ago the UK government published its Loneliness Strategy with over 55 commitments and a new multi-million-pound fund. This week the Welsh Government launched a comprehensive consultation that has the third sector at the centre of its development process.
Loneliness kills and is a public health crisis. It is as dangerous to a person’s health if you are single, living alone and lack social connections as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Chronic loneliness affects mental and physical health, from increased risks of depression, anxiety and dementia, to increased risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems. It is estimated that loneliness costs the NHS £12,000 per person affected.