Funding required to halt Highlands and Islands social isolation crisis

Labour's John Erskine who will try and capture the seat from Ian Blackford. NO F42 John Erskine - Headshot
Labour candidate John Erskine.

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John Erskine, Scottish Labour candidate for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch is calling for the Scottish Government to provide urgent investment to tackle the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on young people across the Highlands and Islands following the publication of a new academic study.

The University of Edinburgh, RuralCovidLife study, has examined the psychological, social and financial effects of the pandemic in rural areas and found that 32 per cent of those aged 18 to 29 said they feel lonely most or all of the time, compared with three per cent in the 70-79 age group, and eight per cent of the total surveyed.

Commenting on the study’s findings, Mr Erskine said: ‘Young people across the Highlands and Islands are sadly being let down and forgotten about by the Scottish Government during the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘The RuralCovidLife study highlights that young people in areas like ours can often feel lonelier and more isolated than their elderly neighbours and the government needs to provide urgent investment to tackle the increasing social isolation crisis unfolding across the region.

‘The restrictions on visiting friends’ and family’s homes throughout the pandemic has led to fewer people using public transport and an increased reliance on digital connectivity to stay in touch with others.

‘Sadly, poor internet connectivity remains a significant barrier for many young people in the Highlands and Islands and this is compounding the problems of social isolation. Poor broadband affects everyone’s ability to work from home, to stay connected with others and to help in countering the loneliness people can experience.

‘It’s clear the Highlands and Islands need to see much greater investment in physical spaces for people to meet, an affordable and properly functioning public transport network and decent high-speed broadband connectivity to give our young people the support they need.’