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Communities often hold the key to tackling social isolation and loneliness

 

Blog by Ffyona Taylor, Policy and Events officer, Corra Foundation 

Corra Foundation is committed to understanding how people can create positive change. So when reflecting on the recent Social isolation and loneliness strategy consultation, our engagement with communities and the third sector provided powerful insights into local, community-led responses.

Much of our funding supports people to tackle isolation and loneliness. Last year 44% of groups funded through Corra Foundation reported how they contributed to reducing isolation. From Men’s Sheds to bowling groups that recognise the value in providing a space for older men to connect with others. To supporting the wellbeing and skills development of young parents or activity that enables children and older people to come together and share stories. There exists an inspiring wealth of approaches across Scotland, all founded in community strengths and the willingness and ability of people to act.

An issue that comes up frequently through work that we support is the importance of spaces where people can gather and participate; spaces in communities that are free from agenda, exclusivity and stigma, and that can host a range of community initiatives accessible to all groups. Small grant funding, such as Corra Foundation’s Henry Duncan Grants, are often crucial as a key enabler for grassroots projects, contributing to running costs and helping them secure spaces that are fit for purpose.

We also strongly welcome the inclusion of stigma as a key theme within the draft strategy. Stigma can be both a catalyst and a symptom of social isolation; something we learn from our work alongside communities experiencing complex challenges as well as from listening to children and young people affected by drugs or alcohol. Being mindful of how language can reinforce stigma and prevent people from accessing support is crucial. People may not always see themselves – or want to see themselves – as ‘isolated’, ‘lonely’ or ‘poor’ and support often works best when it has a positive focus that connects to things people care about, for example inviting people to get involved around food, crafts or exercise.

The fact that social isolation and loneliness is being discussed in Scotland matters, as does the growing evidence-base and understanding of the issue. Collectively, we need to ensure concerted and continued effort and action to challenge stigma and alleviate barriers. We remain committed to contributing to this by working alongside communities and charities to support the essential role they play and to learn together about what makes a difference.

To read Corra Foundation’s full response to the Social isolation and Loneliness consultation click here.