1 in 5 people in Niagara have experienced some form of social isolation. The absence of belonging and connection can have serious physical, mental and emotional consequences. People who are socially isolated are at a higher risk of developing health problems, slipping into poverty and experiencing a higher rate of mental health challenges and mortality. This has dire consequences for the individual and community.
While exclusion, in itself, does not directly result in an inability to access and benefit from services, it can contribute to a “chronic deprivation” that results in lower social standing, leading to lower income, less human capital, reduced access to employment, and reduced opportunity to participate in both national and local decision making.
Social inclusion helps people feel accepted in their community and able to contribute meaningfully to society. It impacts their overall wellbeing; in fact, people with strong social connections are healthier and live longer than those who report feeling isolated. Statistics show that seniors, immigrants, refugees, and people with disabilities are more likely to lack positive social ties and become socially isolated.
United Way’s social isolation strategy supports programs and initiatives that help individuals build meaningful relationships and feel more included in the social fabric of their communities. The strategy focuses on creating opportunities to participate in community, forming and maintaining social networks, and establishing inclusive environments where people live, play, and work.