Let's not leave the fight against loneliness to someone else - Scotsman editorial comment

Covid pushed us all apart, but in some ways it also brought us together as one.

Assigned to our own houses, our own bubbles, the joys of human connection were broadly lost as we sought to stay safe. Nights became long, time slowed down and days – if not weeks and months – merged into one as our life experiences evaporated.

But we found our own way and our own moments of relief, whether they be gathering friends and family online or standing on our doorsteps clapping for the NHS, the weekly communal minute or two reminding us of togetherness. Little windows of lockdown relief brought joy for those able to see those they love.

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It's nearly Loneliness Awareness Week, though it's not a feeling that's familiar...
New research has found that 30 per cent of Scots feel more lonely now than they did a year ago. PIC: Martin Vorel/CC

Now, with restrictions lifted, many of us rush back to what we know and have joined the world once again. But not all of us have left the isolation brought about by the pandemic. For many, it painfully lingers on.

New research for British Red Cross has found the overwhelming majority of Scots (84 per cent) agree that loneliness is still a problem, despite the lifting of restrictions, and 59 per cent said they feel loneliness.

Sadly, 30 per cent of Scots feel more lonely than they did this time last year. How so?

The pandemic is not yesterday’s news for many, not least the care workers and health staff who still live with the threat of taking the virus to work. For the medically vulnerable, lifting restrictions makes little difference.

Now, the pervasive nature of the cost of living crisis is also keeping people at home, with 53 per cent of Scots restricting how much they socialise because of the rising price of everything else.

There is no doubt that the pandemic changed us, made us wary, made us think twice about what is right for us, made us close ranks. Turning to face the sun once again might be harder for some than others.

But we can all play a part in taking the sting out of this very modern disease and it starts on our doorsteps. Take a little time for someone, share a moment, lift a spirit or two. We know from the past two years or so that, in the face of a daunting world, just a little human connection can be the sweetest defence.

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