The Scottish Government’s recently published draft national strategy to combat social isolation and loneliness places great emphasis on the role that the third sector has to play – as well the importance of ensuring that communities themselves are at the forefront in driving change.

During General Questions on Thursday 25th January, SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire, highlighted examples of excellent third sector work taking place in communities in her own constituency, such as that of Centrestage and Raise your Voice Ardeer.

To ensure that such existing best practice is learned from and taken into account as the strategy is developed, Ruth asked what the Scottish Government is doing to encourage third sector organisations to respond to the consultation – which runs until 30 April.

Responding, Minister for Social Security, Jeane Freeman, joined Ruth in praising the work of Centrestage and other third sector organisations and explained that the Government has encouraged third sector interfaces in each local authority area to circulate information through their networks about how to respond and to encourage responses.

In addition, over the coming weeks and months the Scottish Government will host a number of engagement events across Scotland in order to encourage responses to the consultation as well as allow Government representatives and officials to hear from organisations directly.

Commenting, Ruth said:

“The Scottish Government’s new national strategy on tackling social isolation and loneliness will make a huge differences to people of all ages and at all stages of life.

“Third sector organisations, which are often rooted in the communities they serve, have an important role to play in delivering the aims of this strategy.

“I was delighted to highlight some examples of existing excellent practice in my constituency, such as the work of Centrestage and Raise your Voice Ardeer, and to ensure that the Scottish Government is committed to learning from these successful examples as the strategy is developed.

“I would encourage as many people and organisations as possible in Cunninghame South to have a say on this very important issue by contributing to the consultation, which is open until 27th April 2018.”