Feel­ings of so­cial iso­la­tion in Ed­mon­ton

Nearly one-fifth of the pop­u­la­tion im­pacted: Re­port

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - Your Essential Daily News - Kevin Maimann

Nearly one-fifth of Ed­mon­to­ni­ans feel so­cially iso­lated from their com­mu­nity, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port from the Ed­mon­ton Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion.

“There are seg­ments of our so­ci­ety that are not be­ing fully in­cluded, and it’s some­thing we need to be aware of,” spokes­woman El­iz­a­beth Bonkink said.

The foun­da­tion’s Vi­tal Signs re­port, re­leased Fri­day, showed 18 per cent of re­spon­dents re­ported feel­ings of iso­la­tion.

Bonkink said groups at high risk of so­cial iso­la­tion in­clude new moms, se­niors, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, the LGBTQ com­mu­nity, new im­mi­grants, Indige­nous peo­ples and any­one liv­ing in poverty.

“When you fall into sev­eral cat­e­gories that are at risk, your chances of be­ing iso­lated get higher and higher,” she said.

The num­bers come from an on­line sur­vey con­ducted by Leger in July and Au­gust of 404 Ed­mon­to­ni­ans.

The re­port also shows 20,000 Ed­mon­to­ni­ans live in “ex­treme core hous­ing need,” mean­ing they are in a house­hold that spends more than 50 per cent of its in­come on rent.

Those peo­ple are more likely to use the food bank and less likely to af­ford the mo­bil­ity needed to be fully en­gaged in their city, adding to the sense of iso­la­tion, Bonkink said.

“That is a big con­cern, be­cause then again, peo­ple aren’t par­tic­i­pat­ing fully in so­ci­ety. And it weighs on our so­cial ser­vices, too,” she said.

Bonkink said Ed­mon­ton’s li­braries and abun­dance of fes­ti­vals, as well as pro­grams like tran­sit passes for low-in­come in­di­vid­u­als, are ex­am­ples of things that can help peo­ple over­come their sense of iso­la­tion.

On an in­di­vid­ual level, she said it’s im­por­tant for Ed­mon­to­ni­ans to reach out to their neigh­bours and cre­ate a sense of com­mu­nity close to home. “Ap­proach­ing peo­ple with re­spect and dig­nity is a big help,” she said.

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