A NUMBER of charities have come together to call for more to be done to tackle loneliness.

The new Action Group on Isolation & Loneliness in Scotland (AGIL) is supported by the likes of Age Scotland and the British Red Cross.

It has classed loneliness as a public health crisis, insisting it is as dangerous to a person’s health if they are single, living alone and lack social connections as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

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According to AGIL, chronic loneliness affects both mental and physical health, from increased risks of depression, anxiety and dementia to a greater chance of cardiovascular problems.

Now the group has urged the Scottish Government to make greater efforts to end social isolation.

Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “The steps the government has already taken to address this issue are positive but it now needs to become a top priority of the First Minister.

“The negative impact that loneliness and social isolation is having on the lives of people is approaching epidemic levels.

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“Loneliness does not discriminate by age, gender, community, background or wealth but we know that older people are most likely to be affected.”