By Ross Clark and Connor Park
ALMOST 65,000 Scots aged 60 and over feel lonelier during the festive period according to Age Scotland.
A number of reasons have been cited for this alarming statistic with the likes of bereavement and immobility topping the list.
The study, carried out last month, showed just how big an issue loneliness is within Scotland.
It showed the severity of the situation with an estimated 200,000 older Scots spending half a week or more with no visits or phone calls from anyone.
A total of 86% of those quizzed also said that more help should be available for older people who suffer from loneliness.
The Scottish Government is to develop a national strategy to help tackle the issue which is particularly in the public eye at this time of year.
Voluntary Action South Ayrshire (VASA) have had their say on the findings from the study. The sector plays a key role in ensuring progress to volunteering development, social enterprise development, supporting and developing a strong third sector relationship and building this with community planning.
Lynn Anderson, VASA Development Manager, spoke of the various initiatives that have been undertaken within the organisation to try and prevent loneliness this Christmas.
She said: “It’s an alarming statistic going on what we do. Our CEO, Marie Oliver is in her 15th year of providing a Christmas Day dinner, entertainment and a gift for older people who would otherwise be alone.
“As an organisation we cater for 80 people on Christmas Day and that’s only within a small radius in South Ayrshire.
“We find that during the holidays and festive period we become more acutely aware of social isolation and Sunday’s throughout the year are a big time for loneliness too.”
VASA are striving not just at Christmas time, but all year round to try and reduce social isolation with a number of social enterprise and community initiatives.
She added: “We have a facility called ‘The Book n Bun’ where we are looking to bring in activities on top of what we run on a Monday – Friday.
“We always think of social isolation for older folk, that’s the priority area, but we need to consider other groups as well. There are younger people that can be lonely, people that have come back to an area and unemployed people can be isolated too.
“We are in touch with GP’s who are telling us that they are the only person people are getting the chance to speak to so they are making appointments when their isn’t a medical prescription required. Instead we are taking over and sign posting them to the right places.”