Libraries across Scotland will be at the heart of a new effort to reduce social isolation and loneliness.
The Scottish Government has announced a £100,000 award from the public library improvement fund for the creation of “memory groups”.
Its is the largest grant the improvement fund has ever paid out and the first time library services have collaborated on a single venture.
With an emphasis on social history, the idea behind the innovative wellbeing project is that group members will stir up conversation and build a stronger sense of community.
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The Scottish Government places great importance on libraries to empower, to tackle inequality and to reduce isolation.
“The library is now seen as the community ‘living room’ of the modern town.
“By receiving the largest grant made to date from the public library improvement fund, I am confident the Library Reminiscence Project will bring libraries from across Scotland together with the shared goal of making a positive difference to people’s lives.”
A 2018 NHS Scotland report suggested that around 11% of Scots are living with social isolation and loneliness.
By setting up safe and welcoming settings in local libraries, the focused project will hopefully provide an opening for improved connection in local communities.
Pamela Tulloch, CEO at the Scottish Library and Information Council, added: “Social isolation is an issue that our libraries play a key role in helping to combat through their close connections with local communities and this project will provide an even stronger focus for it
“Memory groups provide an excellent way for people to learn new skills, reminisce and most importantly create an environment for people to make new connections, local to them”
The project is being run in partnership with the Scottish Football Museum and chairman of the organisation, Robert Craig, said: “This is another first for Scotland, combining sport and social history to enhance the range and scope of what is widely regarded as a world leading memories project.
“We look forward to seeing it grow and develop across the country.”