Feelings of social isolation in Edmonton
Nearly one-fifth of the population impacted: Report
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.