Survey of Londoners shows high levels of belonging but much isolation too

Survey of Londoners shows high levels of belonging but much isolation too

Published almost unnoticed amid the ongoing Bad London narratives about lawlessnesses, un-Britishness and population “exodus”, the Mayor’s Survey of Londoners has provided plenty of evidence that London the Good City really does  exist – although some of its biggest problems are underlined.

Conducted by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) the survey gathered responses from 6,601 Londoners – several times more than most opinion polls – about their experiences of living in the city and their feelings about it.

One stand out finding was that 81 per cent of Londoners said they felt they belong in the city either “very” or “fairly” strongly – a figure that might surprise those who view the capital as inherently alienating and unstable. The highest rates of belonging are found among black and Asian Londoners, reaching 89 per cent and 85 per cent respectively. The rate among Londoners who identify as white British was high as well, at 80 per cent. Among British Londoners as a whole, the rate was 83 per cent compared with 75 per cent among non-British Londoners.

The rate of belonging-ness to London varied by GLA constituency area, however. Londoners in the Brent & Harrow seat reported the highest rate at 87 per cent, followed by Merton & Wandsworth’s 85 per cent. At the bottom of the league came Havering & Redbridge (77 per cent) and Croydon & Sutton (75 per cent).

Interestingly, Londoners as a whole were less likely to say they feel they belong to their local area than to London as a whole – 73 per cent compared with 81 per cent. Even so, the proportion saying they felt “not at all strongly” they they belong to their local area was just six per cent.

There were also intriguing variations on the two belonging themes among Londoners of different religions. Hindu Londoners scored highest by both measures, with 90 per cent saying they felt they belong to London and 82 per cent saying the same of their local area. Muslim Londoners came second in both categories with 87 per cent and 78 per cent respectively.

Jewish Londoners hit 84 per cent on the belonging-to-London scale, but a relatively low 74 per cent for local area. Christian Londoners were lower in the first case (80 per cent) but a little higher than Jewish counterparts (76 per cent) in the second. These are modest variations and in some cases tiny. It is nonetheless noteworthy that only 79 per cent of non-religious Londoners said they feel they belong to London and just 68 per cent of them said the same of their part of the city.

Other findings of the survey include high levels of ethnic diversity within Londoners’ friendships groups – just 15 per cent saying that all their friends are from the same ethnic group as themselves – and three quarters say their neighbourhood is one where people from different backgrounds get on well.

But there are perturbing parts of the survey picture too. A majority of Londoners – 60 per cent of us – reported high levels of “personal wellbeing”, but 40 per cent is a big minority. This appears largely a reflection of London’s very high poverty rates, as high wellbeing is positively associated with being better off.

Although 45 per cent of Londoners sat they “borrow things and exchange favours with their neighbours”, especially if they are older and have lived in the same place for a while, a worrying 27 per cent told NatCen they are socially isolated, meaning they have no one they can rely on in an emergency. This is most common among Black Londoners and Londoners who don’t speak English well. Eight per cent said they are lonely. This is most common among younger and single Londoners and those on low incomes and who live in social housing. Both loneliness and social isolation are more common among LGBT Londoners.

These are just of some of survey results. Read the whole lot via here. is dedicated to providing fair and thorough coverage of London’s politics, development and culture. The site depends on donations from readers and is also seeking support from suitable organisations. Read more about that here.


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