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A Connected Scotland

Our strategy for tackling social isolation and loneliness and building stronger social connections

A Connected Scotland is the Scottish Government’s national strategy for tackling social isolation and loneliness and building social connections. It establishes a clear and compelling vision of the type of Scotland we want to be when it comes to our relationships; defines what we mean when we talk about social isolation and loneliness; sets out our key priorities in seeking to tackle social isolation and loneliness; and lays out a clear roadmap for implementing the strategy in a cross-cutting and collaborative way.

Our vision states that we want a Scotland where individuals and communities are more connected, and that everyone has the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships regardless of age, status, circumstances or identity.

We define social isolation as “when an individual has an objective lack of social relationships (in terms of quality and/or quantity) at individual group, community and societal levels”, and loneliness as “a subjective feeling experienced when there is a difference between the social relationships we would like to have and those we have”.

We already have a significant evidence base that tells us that social isolation and loneliness are experienced across the population. The Our Voice Citizens’ Panel indicated that 1 in 10 people in Scotland often feel lonely, and there are other sources of information that help us understand the scale of this problem. The evidence review which was completed by NHS Health Scotland provides further information, and there are a range of other evidence sources drawing on stakeholder research and academic findings. We expect that this evidence base will continue to develop over the lifetime of the strategy and that it will continue to inform our approach.

The Scottish Government is clear that we can’t do this alone – that’s why we’re using the launch of this Strategy as a clear call to action for everyone – individuals; communities; local authorities, health boards and other community planning partners; third sector and social enterprise; and business – to play their part in reducing social isolation and loneliness. Not just because it’s the right thing to do – but because it will help to improve the health and wellbeing of our nation.

We know that there’s a great deal of passion, expertise and good work all across Scotland that stands ready to play a part. When our consultation on the initial draft closed at the end of April, we had received over 400 responses. At our well attended community engagement events all across Scotland – 17 in total, from Galashiels to Lerwick – there was a real appetite for change. They told us many things that mattered to people in building social connections and in supporting others to do so – from transport, housing and public spaces to digital technology. They told us that Government has an important role in tackling social isolation and loneliness, but so do others. We’re immensely grateful to those who took the time to engage and look forward to building on that engagement in the future.

To provide a clear focus to our future work, we will establish a Ministerial Steering Group to maintain oversight of activity, drive forward progress and tackle emerging issues; and a National Implementation Group, to drive forward progress in embedding a cross-sectoral approach through the development and implementation of a shared delivery plan for the Strategy along with a shared performance framework to understand the difference we’re making. To underpin this work, we’ve established 4 priorities and set out some early actions to help make progress.