Sight loss charity launches loneliness report at SNP Conference

Press Release | 08/06/2018

Today Scotland’s biggest charity supporting blind and partially sighted people will launch a new report highlighting the links between sight loss and social isolation.  Royal Blind is holding a joint fringe meeting with Age Scotland on the issue of loneliness as the Scottish Government prepares to finalise a groundbreaking nation strategy to tackle social isolation.

The report draws on research by Royal Blind and its sister charity Scottish War Blinded which found that almost two thirds of vision impaired people have experienced loneliness because of their sight loss. Previous research by Age Scotland showed that around 100,000 older people in Scotland feel lonely all or most of the time.

With an ageing population, more and more people in Scotland are living with sight loss, and it has been predicted that the number of people living with sight loss in Scotland will double over the next two decades, to almost 400,000 people.

Both charities are calling for action to promote better access to transport and support for more community initiatives to help people overcome feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Commenting on the launch of ‘Social Connections and Sight Loss’ Mark O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded said:

“Nearly three hundred vision impaired people took part in our research, which found that vision impairment can lead to loneliness at every stage of life, from making it difficult to make friends at school, to sight loss leaving older people unable to get out and about. The impact of sight loss must be part of the national discussion we are having on tackling loneliness in our society.

“Age Scotland has worked alongside other organisations and the Scottish Government to put this issue on the political agenda and discuss what we need to do to reduce social isolation in Scotland. We are delighted to join them at the SNP Conference in Aberdeen to make our contribution to this important debate, and we hope our report ‘Social Connections and Sight Loss’ will be helpful in informing this discussion.”

Age Scotland Chief Executive Brian Sloan said:

‘"Age Scotland welcomes the launch of this report and congratulates Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded on its publication. It is a valuable contribution to the nationwide discussion on how we all work together to tackle loneliness.

"Loneliness is a challenge which is particularly prevalent in those with sight loss, and amongst older people more generally. We know that loneliness is as bad for your health as a 15-a-day cigarette habit and that tends of thousands of older Scots report feeling lonely most of or all of the time.

 "We look forward to working with colleagues at Royal Blind, other charities and of course the public and private sector to develop innovative ways of ensuring that Scotland's endemic loneliness problem is tackled head on and ultimately ended."