We live in an incredibly diverse borough that offers many opportunities. Diversity is one of the many reasons why Islington is such a great place to live and work. But Islington is also a borough of contrasts: years of austerity, political uncertainty, welfare reform all compounded by the pandemic have put a huge strain on the sense of security and the mental well-being of many, but particularly those already living in hardship that are always disproportionately affected. Furthermore, BMER and other marginalised communities suffer added social inequalities caused by systemic discrimination.
34% of Islington’s over-60 population live in income-deprived households, the fourth highest of all London boroughs. Poverty and low income have both been found to increase the risk of loneliness and social isolation. Many of our older neighbours experience high levels of loneliness and isolation. Feelings of loneliness can threaten long-term physical and mental health. Many of those living with a disability also experience loneliness. In fact, nationally, 13% of adults with a disability reported feeling lonely often or always.
47.5% of primary school children in Islington live in poverty, the third highest rate in London. Growing up in poverty can make children’s lives harder well into adulthood, reducing access to opportunities. Moreover, children growing in BMER households in Islington are more likely to be living in poverty in comparison to white children. We are determined to make a difference for the thousands of children and young people in our borough who are affected by poverty.
1 in 4 women in London experience domestic abuse in their lifetime and in 2019 there were 4,000 reported cases of domestic violence and abuse in Islington. It’s also one of the biggest causes of homelessness and mental health issues in the borough. Whilst women may face similar patterns of abuse, there are specific groups of people that can face an added layer of abuse related to their identity, like BMER and migrant women, women with disabilities or trans women. On the other hand, 93% of lone parents with dependent children are women. And because being a lone parent increases the likelihood of unemployment, household income is often lower than average for lone parents.
We have some of the highest levels of mental ill health in England, and the highest levels of depression in London. Every day 230 people in Islington are potentially subject to the mental health act. People with learning disabilities experience greater risk of poverty, unemployment and poor housing. In fact disabled jobseekers need to apply for 60% more jobs than non-disabled jobseekers. They are also more likely to feel lonely and isolated, as well as to have health problems and to experience mental health issues than people without disabilities. People living in Islington are generally more physically active than in other London boroughs. However, studies show that the level of activity is also influenced by inequality; poorer residents, and residents from minority backgrounds and marginalised communities, are less likely to participate in organised physical activity. And compared to the general population, more LGBTIQ+ people are facing long-term health problems, domestic and intimate abuse and/or discrimination, and homelessness.
Islington is also the most densely populated local authority in the UK and has the least green space per head of population of any local authority in the UK. Both factors have an impact on mental and physical health and wellbeing of people living in Islington.