The Vancouver Foundation produced a study in 2012 that looked at the “strength of connections and engagement” among Metro Vancouver residents and concluded that residents had a sense of social isolation and often did not know their neighbours well.A follow up “Connect and Engage” report has just been released by the Foundation. This report examined the “sense of belonging, level of community participation, and the difference between loneliness and social isolation” in 2017.
With over 3,800 people across Metro Vancouver being surveyed this summer, the study found about 25 per cent of people feel isolated, and that there has been a marked decline in community life. The results reported are startling. “While only 14% of all Metro Vancouver residents report feeling lonely either ‘almost always’ or ‘often’, this figure rises to 30% among people age 18 to 24, and 38% among people living in households of less than $20K. Yet the same groups are also more likely to identify new ways to make friends, and highlight finding people with similar interests, more personal time, people being friendlier or more approachable, more community or common spaces, and having more financial resources as important factors.”
Social resiliency is also being defined differently, as “traditional” neighbourhood activities such as using local libraries, recreation centres and churches are declining in interest while local neighbourhood or cultural events are favoured. And positively 9 out of 10 respondents say they have a dependable person to rely on, and 86 per cent have close relationships “that provide a sense of emotional security and wellbeing.”
How do citizens in Metro Vancouver define connection and social engagement? The short video below or here describes the Vancouver Foundation’s findings.