Maureen’s Matters - Christmas may be a lonely time

In the last couple of weeks my email inbox and constituency office have been inundated with Christmas cards and well-wishes.

I love them all, increasing my anticipation for the 25th December and the celebrations and reflections that come with it.

Due to my hectic schedule as both an MSP and Minister for Public Health I am constantly on the move between Parliament, my constituency office and events throughout Scotland.

As much as I enjoy the challenges, and the privilege, of serving my constituents at Holyrood, Christmas gives me the opportunity to spend time with friends and family back at home. For many families in this era of high mobility and busy lifestyles, Christmas is possibly the only opportunity of the year for relatives to get together.

Although I look forward to spending Christmas with my loved ones, I am also saddened that for others, particularly the elderly, Christmas may be a lonely time. Age UK statistics show that across the UK half of all people aged 75 and over live alone, with 1 in 10 people aged 65 or over reporting that they are lonely on a regular basis.

In Scotland, this translates to 100,000 elderly people often or always feeling lonely.

I believe that, during a time when we are with friends and loved ones, it is important to remember those who will not be as fortunate.

It is important that charities, organisations and government bodies continue to highlight the impact of loneliness so that more elderly people have a friendly face to speak to during this special time of the year.

Thankfully, with the prominence of charities such as Age UK, Silver Line and the high publicity their campaigns have received, it looks like fewer people will be lonely this Christmas.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful Christmas, a happy new year, and safe journeys for those making trips.

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