Almost half of British Columbians sometimes feel lonely – but giving together makes us feel better

Almost half of British Columbians sometimes feel lonely – but giving together makes us feel better

Vancouver, B.C., Oct. 08, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — According to new research released today by United Way of the Lower Mainland, almost half (46%) of British Columbians say they sometimes feel lonely – but there is an upside.The same poll also found that giving back as part of a group, whether you donate time or money, makes us feel better than doing it alone. British Columbians report that giving to charity is 10% more meaningful as part of a group campaign, while volunteering is 21% more meaningful with other people you know.In other words: giving is better, together.“We know social isolation is a growing problem in our communities, and we’ve all felt lonely at different times in our lives,” says Jennifer Marshall, Director of Donor Experience with United Way of the Lower Mainland. “The good news is giving back is one way you can foster valuable social connections, for yourself and for others. Giving together is one antidote to social isolation.”Chance to take action, todayThe research release coincides with an event dubbed Better Together. It features a hands-on workshop where participants will discover how they can apply their skills and passions to tackle vulnerability and isolation in their own neighbourhoods. The event takes place at 3pm in the Woodward’s Building in Gastown.The meet-up will also include an address from Jim Diers, author, international community-building expert, and the former Director of Neighbourhoods in Seattle, Washington.“Everywhere I work, from Tokyo to London, there is a growing epidemic of loneliness,” says Diers. “It’s such a problem that some governments are even establishing ministries to address it. But bureaucrats can’t solve loneliness. Only community can do that.”New initiative tackles isolation head-onDiers’s belief in the power of community, along with the research released today, affirms an approach United Way has implemented in a new initiative called Hi Neighbour.Recognizing the need to tackle social isolation on a local level, over the past year United Way has embedded community engagement teams in 8 neighbourhoods across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.“Through our Hi Neighbour initiatives, we’re listening to residents and following their lead on local issues that matter most to them,” says Marshall.“In many communities we hear social isolation is a concern, so we provide the tools and resources for residents to co-create solutions, together.”United Way Hi Neighbour initiatives are currently active in Clayton Heights (Surrey), Lower Lonsdale (North Vancouver), Burke Mountain (Coquitlam), Sardis (Chilliwack), Cedar Valley (Mission), Sunset (Vancouver), Willoughby (Langley), and Edmonds (Burnaby).Research also reveals regional differencesUnited Way’s research uncovered other insights and regional differences related to community pride, neighbourliness and isolation:For British Columbians who say they love where they live, there is a stronger sense of meaning derived from group volunteer experiences. Of those who say they have a strong connection to their community, 54% say volunteering with others is a meaningful experience (compared to the provincial average of 48%).Meanwhile, you might say those in the Fraser Valley and Northern B.C. are friendlier, and fonder of giving back together. Both regions have the highest proportion of people in B.C. who report talking to neighbours 5 times a week or more, at 27%. People in the Fraser Valley and Northern B.C. are also more likely to volunteer in groups, many times per year (21%, 22% respectively), compared to the British Columbia average (13%).Across B.C., Vancouver is home to the highest proportion of people who report a strong sense of connection to their city (39%), while the Fraser Valley has the lowest (27%).People in Other Metro areas and the Fraser Valley are less likely to say they feel lonely (8%, 3% respectively) compared to the average British Columbian (14%).INTERVIEW, PHOTO AND VIDEO OPPORTUNITY:Better Together by United Way
Tuesday October 8, 2019
3-6pm at the Woodward’s Building in Gastown, 351 Abbott Street, Vancouver
Available on site:Jennifer Marshall, Director of Donor Experience, United Way of the Lower MainlandJim Diers, international community-building expert based in Seattle, WashingtonUnited Way donors, volunteers and residents of the Lower Mainland engaged in a “design jam”, a hands-on workshop to address vulnerability and isolation in our communities. (Design Jam takes place from 4-5:30pm).-end-About United Way of the Lower MainlandUnited Way of the Lower Mainland serves the needs of our local community and ignites the desire in everyone to improve this place we call home. Through United Way you can mobilize to address a local issue in your neighbourhood, collaborate with a network of partners to solve a problem, or donate to support our programs that create life-saving connections for local kids and seniors. To learn more visit uwlm.caMore information on Better Together: https://www.uwlm.ca/event/better-together-day/More information on United Way’s Hi Neighbour initiative: https://www.uwlm.ca/hineighbour/AttachmentsUnited_Way_loneliness_highresBetter_Together_Research_Factum_UWLM_01Oct2019Natalie Hill
United Way of the Lower Mainland
778 989 9159
NatalieH@uwlm.ca

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