Scotland’s leading Armed Forces charity, Poppyscotland, has welcomed the publication of the Scottish Government’s strategy on Social isolation and Loneliness…

Following a submission from Poppyscotland to draft proposals earlier this year, the Scottish Government have amended the strategy in recognition of the specific challenges faced by the Armed Forces community.

In April 2018 Poppyscotland, together with its parent charity the Royal British Legion, published the findings from comprehensive research they had undertaken amongst members of the Armed Forces community. This indicated that social isolation affects 15 per cent of the Scottish ex-Service community. Seven per cent are affected by loneliness and six percent by bereavement.

This research formed the basis for Poppyscotland’s submission to the Scottish Government’s strategy consultation process.

The strategy, entitled A Connected Scotland, now includes recognition that: “some members of the Armed Forces transitioning back to the civilian world from a close knit military community may find themselves experiencing social isolation or loneliness.”

It goes on to acknowledge the importance of: “tackling the stigma associated in admitting the need for help, which can be particularly prevalent in a community that has historically emphasised self-help.”

Furthermore it includes a commitment to: “respond to the changing needs of our veterans by setting the right conditions for society to empower and support them.”

All of these points are consistent with Poppyscotland’s Break, Build and Align campaign on Social isolation and Loneliness.

Poppyscotland Chief Executive Mark Bibbey said: “Social isolation has been reported to affect at least 15 per cent of the Scottish ex-Service community and we need to break the stigma that surrounds this topic. We must then build the required practical support for our Armed Forces community to become more connected, and finally align policy, strategy, funding and resources so that our Armed Forces community receives the support they need and so rightly deserve.

“We welcome the new strategy and are particularly pleased to see that a number of aspects of our Break, Build and Align campaign have been included. We would like to thank the Scottish Government and a range of MSPs who have helped ensure the voices of veterans and members of our Armed Forces community have been heard, and that their specific needs have been recognised within the final strategy.”

A National Implementation Board is now to be established by the Scottish Government and Poppyscotland has expressed their interest in being involved and supporting the implementation of the strategy.