Can A Creative Approach To Housing Help Solve The Loneliness Epidemic?
Do you ever feel lonely? If so – irony alert! – you’re far from alone. According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, 25 million people in England feel lonely. In fact, a total of 45% of adults feel lonely occasionally, sometimes, or often. And, of course, feelings of loneliness and isolation can exacerbate other problems, from anxiety and depression to a lack of motivation to keep up physical activity.
The pandemic has certainly contributed to feelings of loneliness and isolation. One in four callers to the Samaritans mentions loneliness; this rose to one in three as a result of Covid. The nature of modern life also plays a part. Social media, when it becomes a filter on our lives and an endless source of comparison, can contribute to feelings of loneliness. So, too, can life in the big city. As Danielle Bayless, COO of Quintain Living – the award-winning management company overseeing the rental of more than 3,250 apartments in Wembley Park – points out:
“Loneliness isn’t about the number of people around you. It’s about a lack of opportunities for connection – meaningful connection – with those with whom you share some kind of common bond. By finding people who share your interests, your views or your values, it’s possible to combat the negative effects of loneliness.”
Quintain Living is taking an interesting approach to combatting loneliness. In its apartment buildings, the company is creating communities of renters who have amenities on site that encourage them to connect with one another – along with a team organising resident events, WhatsApp groups to connect people with similar interests and so on.
Over the summer, this style of community living really comes into its own, with outdoor kitchens, BBQs, play parks, ‘bark parks’ for resident dogs and more scattered across the gardens and roof terraces of the Quintain Living apartment blocks.
At Canada Gardens, for example, youngsters can bond in the pirate ship playpark or the magical indoor ‘Emily’s Playhouse’, while dog owners can enjoy a natter at the bark park. All apartments are pet-friendly, so that furry companions can play their part in fighting loneliness too. In the acre of podium gardens, places to cook and eat promote socialisation on sunny days, while the clubhouse offers the perfect retreat when the weather is less kind.
Over at The Robinson, where the bold and eclectic apartments have struck a chord with students and recent graduates, the social spaces are key spots for residents to come together and connect. According to the Higher Education Policy Institute, nearly one in four students are lonely most or all of the time.
To combat that, The Robinson provides a vast residents’ lounge connected by a 7m-slide to a stunning roof terrace. There’s a spa caravan and a Festival Garden that incorporates a John Lennon-inspired Peace Garden, a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Garden and a bark park. There’s even a work-from-home community on the 14th floor rooftop, with three bespoke campervans to work in, clustered around a lawned area with picnic tables, benches and deckchairs to socialise in. Every element of the quirky design promotes interaction, encouraging residents to engage with their home and with one another.
This community-focused model is about events as well as amenities. Already this year, the Quintain Living resident team has arranged more than a dozen community events, designed to support residents to engage with one another over common interests.
For the artistically minded, there’s a popular ‘paint and prosecco’ art club, while younger creative types are welcomed to the children’s art club held on the rooftop of the serene and stylish Alameda apartment building. The same rooftop also hosts film nights every Monday, supporting cinephiles to connect. There’s a cooking club in partnership with Bread Ahead Wembley Park, along with Zumba classes, spin classes and outdoor HIIT classes for those looking to exercise, have fun and connect with their neighbours.
Sustainability-focussed activities have included an upcycling event and an allotment event at Canada Gardens, to encourage families to grow their own vegetables. The allotments provide plenty of opportunity for connection, with residents coming together to share growing tips as well as helping to water each other’s plants during holidays.
Other activities have ranged from a summer solstice neighbour meet and greet, to sessions on fixing your bicycle. The latest event – a new volunteering group – met for the first time during Loneliness Awareness Week in June, with volunteers taking on building planters for a local community-run edible garden as their first project.
The Quintain Living Residents’ App provides a further opportunity for residents to connect. As well as booking events, residents can access a number of private groups. There’s a film club, a parent and baby group, an allotment group, a book club with 1,733 members and much more.
At the heart of all this are thought and creativity – thought about how to support people and make genuine, meaningful connections that have the potential to flourish into strong, long-lasting friendships.
What does your local area offer that supports this?
Love to hear your feedback in the comments below, together we can make a difference…
About The Author
Danielle Bayless, COO, leads the Quintain Living team with a wealth of experience from the US. She leads everything from the corporate vision to overseeing the operational running of the business. She’s also the proud owner of Chief Cuddle Officer, Quinn the dog.
Here are some links to different projects mentioned in this article- check them out: