Look out for elderly and vulnerable
At the festive season, in amongst all the fun and joviality, thoughts can also turn to the year that has passed as we all reflect our own personal triumphs and tribulations.
This year has been a year that will long be talked about, but sadly, often for the wrong reasons.
We have experienced terrorist attacks that claimed innocent lives, to dramatic world events including the inauguration of the 45th president of the USA and an escalation of tensions with North Korea.
We have also had a snap general election that saw an arrogant Conservative party lose its majority, an overconfident SNP lose seats in Scotland and a resurgent Labour party delivering a positive message of hope and real change, making electoral progress.
Yet for most people their reflections are often closer to home as thoughts turn to friends and family.We make a toast to those perhaps no longer with us, and a toast to the future with challenges and excitement ahead.
It is a time where we meet with those that we may have not seen in a while and those that we may not see again until next year.
It is a time when we talk, but just importantly listen. A time when, hopefully, we can put our phones down for five minutes and have actual conversations.
Sadly, it is already a time when many feel lonely.
No one should have to be alone at Christmas time, yet almost a million older people across the country will feel lonelier at this time than at any other point of the year, with over 60,000 older people in Scotland spending Christmas Day alone.
According to Age Scotland around 80,000 say thatTV is their only company over Christmas and NewYear, with one in five keeping it on all day because“it’s lovely to hear human voices”.
Loneliness and isolation can strike anyone. From poor health, bereavement, mobility issues, a lack of confidence or suffering anxiety, there are many reasons why people will be alone this Christmas.
This can have a serious impact on long term physical and mental health, including heart problems, strokes and dementia.
Yet we can all do our little bit to reach out.We can volunteer as a befriender or just simply pop around to visit a neighbour for a cup of tea or a biscuit. It may only be half an hour, but to them it will be the highlight of their day.
And while you might be facing a hectic day, that break just might be the best part of your day too.
As we head in to 2018, whilst being mindful of the world events taking place we should be focusing on the change that we can make in Scotland, in parliament and in our communities.
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year.