Last week, I was pleased to have the opportunity to visit Health in Mind on Shandwick Place. The charity was established over 30 years ago and has 150 fully trained and supported volunteers.
One of its main goals is to help people who are affected with loneliness and isolation to re-connect with society. This includes people with mental-health problems, the elderly and the homeless.
It connects these groups to community services and local activities and helps them to establish social networks. Ultimately it has helped many to rebuild their self-esteem and confidence.
I heard some inspiring stories from service users about how their lives had been put back on track because of the efforts of the organisation and its volunteers. It has given many a greater sense of purpose and direction. Some have even gone on to become volunteers themselves.
There are many people who due to the fact that they are isolated simply don’t know how to access the services they need. As a result, they slip through the net. Therefore, having information services like those organised by Health in Mind based at community facilities are really important.
I also heard that the charity evaluates and monitors outcomes of the services they provide. They have had very positive feedback from people from all backgrounds. For instance, 94% of respondents to one of charity’s recent surveys said that their mental-health had improved because of their services.
Recently the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities committee published a report which said that isolation and loneliness is a big issue in Scotland. It called on the Scottish Government to develop a national strategy for tackling the problem.
In developing that strategy the government would do well to learn from charities like Health in Mind. To read more about its work click here.