Where do you go to meet new people? Where do you spend time with others?

Perhaps you attend, or help to run, a lunch club, a dance class, a craft group or a choir. These types of groups are important in enabling people to develop supportive relationships that can help them the cope with difficult times of life.

It is well known that loneliness and social isolation have negative impacts on people’s mental health and well-being. In our society social isolation, poor mental health and low levels of well-being are significant issues. As our communities become more fragmented, many people are struggling to access the social networks and groups that can boost life satisfaction and help to build resilience.

loneliness and social isolation have negative impacts on people’s mental health and well-being

Working together with research at the University of Queensland, Australia, CUF’s latest research explores the relationship between people’s wellbeing and their participation in community-based groups, based on 160 survey responses. The key findings of this research were:

  • People who felt a strong sense of belonging to such groups reported higher levels of life satisfaction and social support than those with a lower sense of connection to them.
  • People with a high sense of connection to groups reported significantly better life satisfaction and social support than those who felt less connected to groups.
  • This effect was greatest for those experiencing greater socio-economic disadvantage: where these individuals had a strong sense of connection to the groups they were part of, this was associated with a closing of the gap in levels of life satisfaction between more and less economically disadvantaged participants.

This research reinforces what we already know about the significance of inter-personal relationships for people’s wellbeing and flourishing, and points to the importance of churches and other groups continuing to provide opportunities for people to connect with others, and to create spaces where people can feel that they belong. This is particularly important in communities where other opportunities to make those connections may be lacking.

This shows that perhaps the group that you go to, or help to make happen, is more than just a fun activity but it may be strengthening social networks and building resilience and well-being.

Read the full report here.

To find out about one way we are tackling loneliness and isolation, take a look at Places of Welcome.