RELIGIOUS and church groups are second only to sports clubs as
the most popular type of organisation to belong to, a report from
the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests.
The report Measuring National Well-being found that
half of the population are members of organisations, and, of them,
one in five (21 per cent) was part of a religious or church group.
Sports clubs were the most common: 31 per cent of those who were in
groups were part of one.
The ONS report sought to analyse the UK's "social capital",
which it described as the "glue that holds societies together, and
without which there can be no economic growth or human well-being".
It found that, besides belonging to organisations, many people in
the UK also volunteered. Nineteen per cent had given unpaid help at
charities and other groups at least once in the past 12 months. The
same proportion of the population said that they had looked after,
or supported, someone who was sick, elderly, or disabled.
Just under a fifth (18 per cent) of people had been involved in
at least one "social-action project" in their area in the past
year. More than two-thirds of the population had given money to
charity in the past year (67 per cent).
The ONS found, however, that there had been a "significant
decrease" in the proportion of people who felt that they could
influence decisions in their community since 2011; and one in ten
reported feeling lonely "all, most, or more than half of the time".
One third said that they wished they could spend more time with
their family and have more social contact.
Five per cent said that they did not have a close friend,
although most people (68 per cent) reported having between two and
Analysis of the statistics by the ONS suggests that the fewer
close friends people have, the more they say they are dissatisfied
with their life.
Family connections appear to be strong: when respondents were
asked to rate their satisfaction with their family life on a scale
up to ten, the average response was 8.2. A majority of parents (63
per cent) gave practical or financial help to children who no
longer lived with them, the most common support coming in the form
of financial assistance, and help with caring for
Academic research quoted in Measuring National
Well-being suggests that people with stronger social networks
and reliable social support have better physical and mental health
than those who are more isolated and lonely.