Almost one-third of young people in Metro Vancouver feel lonely, according to a report released Wednesday by the Vancouver Foundation.
In a survey of 3,800 Metro Vancouverites, the foundation found that the rate of loneliness among those 18-24-years-old was just over double the rate of the general population.
“The millennial generation in the Lower Mainland is now larger than the post-war boomers generation and this growing demographic represents our next generation of workers, families and community members,” said Rennie Group vice-president of marketing Andrew Ramlo.
“Ensuring both existing and new, younger and older residents have the opportunities to establish strong connections with their communities is essential to building stronger, healthier communities.”
Overall, 14 per cent of the city’s residents feel lonely either “almost always” or “often.”
That rate doesn’t just increase for young people. Income had a strong negative effect with 23 per cent of those with a household income of between $20,000-$40,000 feeling lonely and 38 per cent of those living in household making less than $20,000 often feeling alone.
The report notes that the biggest barriers to Vancouverites getting together with friends – work or school obligations, not having enough time, being too far away, finances and feeling overwhelmed – were more common among young people than people over the age of 24.
It wasn’t all bad news, however; the report found that 91 per cent of those surveyed said that they did have people they could depend on for help.
Vancouverites told the foundation that they would find it easier to make friends if there were more community or common spaces to connect at, if people were friendlier and more approachable and if they had more financial resources.
Welcome to the neighbourhood
Despite feelings of loneliness, approximately two-thirds of Metro Vancouverites feel welcome in their neighbourhoods.
Here there was still a split between older and younger residents; at 84 per cent, those 75 and older were 20 per cent more likely to feel like they belonged in their communities than the general population.
Less than half of people who have lived in Canada for 10 years or less and people between the ages of 18-24 felt welcome in their communities. That number increase slightly to 50-51 percent for those aged 25-24, those with a houshold income of less than $20,00 and those living in a suite in a house.
Almost half of those surveyed said that more neighbourhood social gatherings would help them get to know their neighbours better, while just under one-third said they would like to participate in a neighbourhood or community project.
“People are often just waiting to be asked or invited to take part in something – they have the skills, assets and desire, they just aren’t sure what to do,” said Asset Based Community Development Institute’s Joe Erpenbeck.
However, the report found that “participation in almost every community related activity has dropped since 2012.”