New research by Build to Rent operator, developer and investor Get Living, compiled in the report ‘Where We Belong: The trends shaping communities across the UK’, reveals that a sense of belonging to the places in which people live is important for overall wellbeing.
Of the 10,000 British people nationwide surveyed, 63% felt that they belong in their local community, at home and in the workplace, despite living in an increasingly digital world. 65% of respondents also rated their physical and mental health as good when they had a high sense of belonging.
The report also revealed that after safety, price and location, it was a sense of community that influences where people choose to live.
“In the modern world, it’s easy to forget just how important it is to have in-person connections and to feel a sense of belonging to a physical place.
“This research shines a light on the crucial role that different amenities, social events and interactions play in cultivating and nurturing connections, in creating a real sense of community.
“It is positive that nearly two-thirds of British people feel a connection and sense of belonging in their homes, neighbourhoods and workplaces, particularly as we know the impact this can have on people’s wellbeing. These findings make it clear that creating and managing places demands an even greater focus on people and togetherness, which is what we, at Get Living, live and breathe.”Rick de Blaby, Chief Executive Officer, Get Living
Research also showed that people living in places designed to cultivate connections generally have a higher feeling of togetherness, with those living in Build to Rent or student accommodation most likely to report a sense of belonging in their local community (61% and 60% respectively), compared to traditional private rental accommodation (52%).
For those that own a home, 58% said that they felt a sense of belonging, indicating that belonging is not necessarily driven by a sense of permanence.
Location also plays a role. 38% of Londoners strongly feel they belong in their local community, higher than any other UK region. This is followed by Northern Ireland (33%), the Northeast (30%) and the Northwest (29%).
“It’s hugely encouraging to see that people living in Build to Rent reported the highest sense of belonging in their communities. As neighbourhood creators, our aim is to create the stage, but its people that make a place. Everyone’s experience of what belonging means to them different, but it all speaks to the visceral human need for connections and security.”Rick de Blaby, Chief Executive Officer, Get Living
The next evolution of retail is local
The retail narrative has been dominated by the online vs offline debate, but one of the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a greater appreciation of local retail. Central to people’s sense of belonging is local shops, restaurants and cafes, highlighting the importance of our local high streets and town centres.
Shopping and eating locally is important for 59% of people, while 50% find local shops create a sense of belonging in their immediate neighbourhood.
In their wider communities, 45% of people say their high street or town centre and 42% say social spaces like restaurants, cafes, bars, and cultural spaces create a sense of togetherness in their wider community.
When choosing a place to live, 45% of Brits said location and proximity to amenities such as shops, restaurants, cultural places and leisure facilities are a top priority.
Despite the rise of social media and online messaging apps, Get Living’s research found that even small human interactions have a significant impact on people’s feeling of belonging.
This could involve chatting over a garden fence, in communal lobbies or lifts, and on the street. These small gestures drive a feeling of togetherness and connection to a local area, with 48% reporting that engaging in conversation with neighbours helps create a sense of belonging.
The power of a chance encounter a friendly conversation cannot be underestimated for a mood boost, as Co-founder of Minderful highlights.
“Belonging dissolves the barriers of isolation and empowers individuals to share their problems, alleviating stress and promoting overall wellbeing.”Dr Nick Prior, Co-founder, Minderful