Church welcomes new efforts to tackle loneliness and isolation

Connections project
The Connections Project in Inverness helps young families increase social connections, develop confidence in parenting and explore Christianity in a meaningful way.

The Church has welcomed the Scottish Government's commitment to tackling the growing problem of loneliness through its new Social Isolation and Loneliness Fund. The Moderator of the General Assembly, Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison, said

"The growing loneliness we see all around us touches us all directly, as our population gets older and more people are living alone or far away from their families. This is a major challenge of our time - being divided, being separated, feeling alienated. We feel our great human community pulling apart and fragmenting.

For many people in Scotland, living out their faith and attending worship provides one of the main opportunities for being with other people in a meaningful way each week. The Church is also one of the largest providers of social spaces used by many local groups.

We also support projects directly. Our 'Go For It' Fund provides grants of around £1 million each year to community groups, many of which tackle social isolation. The Connections project in Inverness helps connect young families, while Befriend Motherwell and Befriend Bellshill work with isolated elderly and disabled people. Between them they have received £144,390 in funding.

As Moderator, I have been privileged to see the practical difference the Church is making every day in tackling social isolation in communities across the county. Christian faith brings a supreme message of hope – hope anchored in the reality that, just as God is with us, we can be with one another."

The work of Befriend Motherwell and Befriend Belshill, was recognised by a cross-party group of 18 MSPs in the Scottish parliament in November. Conservative MSP, Margaret Mitchell, who represents the Central Scotland region, lodged a motion which expressed "gratitude for the difference" they make to people's lives. She said: "The befriending projects currently taking place in Motherwell and Bellshill are inspirational initiatives that not only benefit isolated members of the community but also the volunteers themselves."

The Church of Scotland's Go For It Fund has awarded nearly £3million since it was established in 2012 and currently supports around 120 projects across Scotland. The Fund aims to encourage creative ways of working, which develop the life and mission of the local church, that are transformative for both communities and congregations.

Shirley Grieve, manager of the Go For It Fund, said she and her staff are delighted to be playing a part in funding important work and promoting it across Scotland in congregations and communities.

"It is crucial that politicians and policy makers in our country become more aware of the contribution that faith based groups are making to national and local outcomes."

To find out more about the impact Church funded projects have, watch our advent video which featured some of the projects tackling social exclusion.