How people feel about the area in which they live and the people they live alongside has a major impact on their sense of wellbeing. This, in turn, can have important consequences for their physical and mental health. Understanding what determines how people feel about living in their local area is, therefore, key to improving health and reducing health inequalities.

Several different factors help us build an understanding of how local residents feel about living in Hackney and the City of London. These include general satisfaction with the area as a place to live, and how cohesive they perceive the local community to be, as well as their engagement and sense of connectedness to their neighbours and acquaintances.

Hackney and the City of London both house a very ethnically diverse, mobile and young population and the areas have undergone significant change in recent years. 1  East London and the City have been a focus of major economic growth and high levels of inward migration of people from other parts of London, the UK and the rest of the world. Such significant social and economic change can have a major impact on residents’ sense of place and wellbeing.

This section looks at residents’ views of living in Hackney and the City, and highlights how this can impact on their health and wellbeing.  The commentary covers a number of common and interlinked themes (defined in Box 1) including community cohesion, social isolation, social exclusion and social networks or ‘social capital’.

Box 1: Definitions used in this section 2 3 4

Community cohesion – a common vision and sense of belonging for all communities in an area; the diversity of people’s different backgrounds are appreciated and positively valued.

Social capital – networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society.

Social exclusion – lack of or denial of resources, rights, goods and services, and an inability to participate in the normal relationships and activities available to the majority of people in a society.

Social isolation – inadequate quality and quantity of social relations with other people at the different levels where human interaction takes place (individual, group, community and the wider social environment).


  1. Hackney Council, “A profile of Hackney, its People and Place,” 2016. [Online]. Available: (PDF document). [Accessed September 2016].
  2. Local Government Association, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Commission for Racial Equality, The Inter-Faith Network, “Guidance on Community Cohesion,” 2002. [Online]. Available: (PDF document). [Accessed October 2016].
  3. D. Zavaleta, K. Samuel and C. Mills, “Social isolation: a conceptual and measurement proposal. POPHI Working Paper no 67, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative,” 2014. [Online]. Available: [Accessed October 2016].
  4. R. Levitas, “The concept and measurement of social exclusion,” in Poverty and Social Exclusion in Britain, Policy Press, 2006.