Leader comment: Why we should take a leaf from Rutherglen Library’s book

Fiona Hyslop MSP Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs.'The Cabinet Secretary met local resident Elaine Tait in the library.
Fiona Hyslop MSP Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs.'The Cabinet Secretary met local resident Elaine Tait in the library.
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This month, The Scotsman is highlighting Scotland’s hidden loneliness epidemic.

Shockingly, more than 100,000 Scots will eat Christmas dinner alone this year, and one in six older people say they often feel more lonely during the festive season than at any other time of the year.

It is an issue we can all help to tackle by simply extending the hand of friendship to relatives and others who we know are on their own.

We report today on a fantastic initiative at Rutherglen Library which is opening its doors on 25 December to people who are homeless or unable to spend Christmas with family and friends.

READ MORE: Scotland’s loneliness crisis
Staff are volunteering their time and sacrificing some of their own Christmas Day to bring a little joy to others. That really is the true Christmas spirit.

From 11am to 2pm, visitors will be treated to a festive film screening, companionship and most crucially a friendly face.

It is the second year the library has thrown open its doors. Last year, more than 40 people visited.

Leader of South Lanarkshire Council, Councillor John Ross, explains: “Everyone is welcome, you don’t need to let anyone know your reason for coming along other than to share a community experience with other people on a day which can be very lonely for some individuals.”

Similar projects staffed by volunteers will be taking place all over Scotland, but sadly they will not reach everyone in need.

And so as we look towards enjoying the celebrations with family and friends over the next few days, perhaps we should all take a leaf out of the Rutherglen Library book.

A quick visit, cup of tea and a chat with someone who is on their own could make all the difference. It may well be the best present they will receive this year.

Even a Christmas card or a simple ‘Merry Christmas’ as you pass in the street will mean the world to someone who otherwise may have no contact with others.

Tackling loneliness is one gift which we can all give this Christmas, and the best part is it does not cost a penny.