The Eric Liddell Centre helps tackle loneliness and isolation in Edinburgh

The Eric Liddell Centre helps tackle loneliness and isolation in Edinburgh

The Eric Liddell Centre has been helping older people in the capital dealing with loneliness and isolation, thanks to a new initiative.

The South West Villages project works to strengthen services for older people by identifying ways to increase social interaction and reduce the chances of becoming isolated.

More than 250 people took part in a survey as part of the initiative to gauge local feeling on the discontinuation of bus services to the Gyle shopping centre and medical facilities.

The survey was focused on the south west of the city with forty per cent of respondents from Balerno, 37 per cent from Currie and 15 per cent from Juniper Green.

Louise Muir, South West Villages community liaison officer, is tasked with assisting the communities and to provide solutions to the issues being identified.

Louise said:

“We are thrilled to be working on the South West Villages project as we often see first-hand the problems that can stem from social isolation and loneliness. From a medical perspective, it could be argued that money spent on transport or buses could reduce health care bills a few years down the line due to the connection between social isolation and ill-health.

“We want to hear from local communities and provide solutions to combat the issues at hand and ensure all is been done to bring communities, especially those with a higher proportion of people aged 65 and over, together.”

Louise’s role is to support the community in making their opinions heard by speaking to relevant public sector bodies and transport providers to identify possible solutions.

The survey also revealed that more than 60% of all people wanted to see a return of public transport services to The Gyle and more than half said they would use the No.45 weekend bus service which was cancelled last year, to attend social appointments including trips to the theatre.

John MacMillan, CEO of The Eric Liddell Centre, said:

“We are delighted to support this initiative as we are passionate about the care and health of our ageing population. Isolation and loneliness are both key issues we aim to help tackle which is why we are working with the South West Villages Project to identify solutions and ensure our communities are brought closer together.

“Transport is one of the main issues identified. We are now doing all we can to support the community to find ways that will keep people connected to the outside world and hopefully get one step closer to reducing isolation in ageing communities.”

The Grey Horse Inn in Balerno has also opened its doors to offer a meeting space for older people in the community as part of the project, welcoming older people to meet for coffee and scones every two weeks.

Paul Ng, landlord of the pub, added:

“I’m happy to help the community. There’s not many other places for older people to get together.  It’s really important that they can go out.  I used to work with the elderly in Edinburgh for ten years and now I have the pub I can’t volunteer because I’m busy, but I really love to work with older people”.

The Corner Café in Currie and Molly’s Café in Juniper Green also provide spaces with coffee and scone deals to users of the project.