Research report: Social Isolation and Loneliness amongst Older People in the City of London

June 28th, 2016 | Posted by Dr Roger Green in Isolation | London | Loneliness | Older People | Urban Isolation

This research project was commissioned by the City of London to examine the factors that contributed to the social isolation and loneliness of older residents living in the City of London and to provide possible initiatives to reduce social isolation and loneliness.

The research project was part of the City of London and Goldsmiths Knowledge Transfer Programme (KTP). A three year research and learning partnership between the City of London Department of Community and Children’s Services – People Directorate, and Goldsmiths Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies.

The study used a community focused qualitative ethnographic approach to gain older resident’s views and experiences of social isolation and loneliness. The fieldwork was undertaken between March and early October 2015.

The key findings included;

  • Different experiences and definitions of being socially isolated and/or lonely, or both, was voiced by residents.
  • Beneficial effects of older people attending a community group or related activity,
  • Not all group activities and structures were suitable for all residents.
  • Accessing and joining a community group was problematic for some residents.
  • Social comfortability and informal atmosphere engendered by community groups positive for the majority of older people attending.
  • Befriending and good neighbour schemes positively received by residents.
  • Evidence that ‘informal’ befriending or localised good neighbour schemes were developing.
  • Residents often required ongoing volunteer support with their daily lives including ‘social company’.
  • Evidence of good neighbourliness impacting on individual’s sense of loneliness and social isolation.
  • Resident’s age, the physical layout of estates and housing tenure often had a negative impact on knowing ones neighbours.
  • Lack of knowledge amongst some residents as to who their neighbours were.
  • A loss of community felt by some residents.
  • Significant minority of residents had access to a laptop or a desktop computer.
  • Majority had little or no computer skills beyond word processing.
  • The LGBT community felt socially isolated.
  • Some residents did not feel lonely or socially isolated.
  • Residents had various ‘coping mechanisms’ and ‘alternative social lifestyles’ or strategies to avoid feelings of loneliness and social isolation.

You can view a presentation of the research on the Goldsmiths, University of London, Community Engagement Research website by clicking the first link.

For further information please contact:

Dr Roger Green

Senior Research Fellow Community Studies

Director, Centre for Community Engagement Research

Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies

Goldsmiths, University of London

Email:      Tel. +44 207 717 2591


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