Almost £6 million in funding will provide friendship and human connection to people at risk of social isolation and loneliness over the winter months.
Part of the Scottish Government’s £100 million winter package to support people, the funding will ensure services such as wellbeing calls, befriending support, advice and volunteering are maintained and extended over winter.
Through the Connecting Scotland programme, an extra £4.3 million will help 5,000 older people to get online, and around 200 families to maintain contact with a loved one in prison custody, through digital devices and internet access.
More than £1.6 million will go to organisations providing key helplines, for groups such as older people and victims of domestic abuse. Over £900,000 will go to various other projects across Scotland supporting people of all ages affected by social isolation and loneliness.
Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie said:
“Living through an extended period of not spending time with our friends and loved ones has been painful for everyone, but extremely damaging for some and we know that many people will find the upcoming festive period particularly hard.
“The events of this year have reaffirmed our commitment to tackling social isolation and loneliness as a serious public health issue.
“That’s why part of our Winter Plan for Social Protection will have a specific focus on addressing this across society. In particular among older people, disabled people, the young LGBTI community, care-leavers, and women and girls at risk from violence and abuse.
The charity Generations Working Together will receive £76,200 to continue connecting care home residents with their families and younger people in the community.
Chief Executive Officer Alison Clyde said:
"We provide support and training to care home staff to ensure residents are connected with loved ones, as well as young people from the local community. Participants share their skills and life experiences, learn together whilst making new friends and most importantly have fun. This also helps to break down intergenerational barriers – vital in tackling ageism and reducing loneliness and isolation.”
Shared Care Scotland will receive £80,000 for its Time to Live grant scheme for unpaid carers. Chief Executive Don Williamson said:
“Ongoing restrictions continue to have a significant impact on carers, many of whom are unable to access their usual forms of support. Accessing a short break through a Time to Live grant can make a huge difference to a carer’s health and wellbeing, helping them recharge their batteries and sustaining them through the winter months.”
YouthLink Scotland will receive £150,000 to allocate small grants to local grassroots youth work.
Chief Executive Officer Tim Frew said:
“Some young adults face uncertainty around their future job prospects and struggle to cope with the restrictions. This funding will enable us to direct youth work support to where it is needed the most, boosting young people’s interaction with others and promoting positive mental wellbeing.”