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Briggs calls for action to address loneliness and isolation for deaf Scots

Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative & Unionist MSP for Lothian, today called on the Scottish Government to do more to address the loneliness and isolation experienced by deaf Scots. Miles was speaking in a Parliamentary debate on the Scottish Government’s Draft British Sign Language (BSL) plan where he also encouraged constituents to get involved in the current consultation on the plan.

Speaking in the debate Miles, who is the Shadow Minister for Mental & Public Health, said:

“  I want to raise to the issue of loneliness and isolation and what can often be a very difficult and isolating period for anyone when they lose their hearing.

“ The Scottish Government committed to bringing forward a National Social Isolation Strategy last September – I hope this will present an opportunity to look at innovative and creative ways we can help support our deaf community in Scotland and make sure that in this day and age people with hearing loss are given the support they need to realise their potential and prevent isolation and loneliness.”

On the Draft BSL Plan Miles said:

“ I want urge constituents across the Lothian Region which I represent, especially members of the deaf community, BSL users themselves and those who support BSL users, to give their views during the consultation period which runs until the end of May. It is vital that they give their opinions on the draft plan and suggest improvements and amendments ahead of the publication of the final plan in October.

“ I also want to pay tribute to those organisations in Scotland who campaign on behalf of deaf people and those with hearing loss and whose views are also very important in this consultation process.

These include the Scottish Council on Deafness, British Deaf Association Scotland and Action on Hearing Loss.

“ There are also a number fantastic local organisations across the country working to support BSL users. In my own region of Lothian for example we have the Lothian Deaf Counselling Service which offers counselling in BSL and groups like the West Lothian British Sign Language Group which offers deaf and hearing BSL users the opportunity to socialise, make new friends and meet old ones in a relaxed informal setting.

“ I fully agree that all information on national health screening and immunisation programmes should be routinely translated into BSL and be readily available and easy to access. More generally, high quality health information and advice in BSL should also be much more readily available and I support the suggestion that it should be collated and located in a central online resource which BSL users can go to. And as the draft plan suggests, there should also be a national source of mental health information for BSL – I hope this is an area the Scottish Government’s new Mental Health Strategy will also include.”

Ends….

Chris Terry