Project is tackling isolation of elderly

The Grey Horse Inn in Balerno offers a meeting space
The Grey Horse Inn in Balerno offers a meeting space
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The Eric Liddell Centre has been helping older people in the Capital dealing with loneliness and isolation as part of a major 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 40 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 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 found more than 60 per cent of all people wanted to see a return of public transport services to The Gyle and more than half said they would use the number 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: “Isolation and loneliness are both key issues we aim to help tackle which is why we are working with the 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 projects. Landlord Paul Ng, said: “There’s not many other places for older people to get together. It’s really important that they can go out.”

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

The Eric Liddell Centre is a registered care charity and major community hub which provides a wide range of services for the Capital’s community groups with the aim of inspiring, empowering and supporting people of all ages