Page last updated at 12:31 GMT, Monday, 1 December 2008

Capital tops 'loneliness' study

Scott Monument
A third of people in Edinburgh are less likely to feel part of their community

Edinburgh is the loneliest place to live in the UK, according to a study commissioned by the BBC.

The latest figures showed 33.1% of people in the area were less likely to be involved in their local community, or to feel part of it.

The figure is calculated by the number of non-married adults in the area and the number of one-person households.

It also covers those who moved to their current address within the last year and people renting privately.

The study was conducted by the University of Sheffield.

Edinburgh's loneliness figure has risen by 13% since 1971, to overtake London and come top of all the cities in the UK.

Holyrood was named as the loneliest place in Edinburgh, at 86.6%.

In Scotland as a whole, the figure for loneliness rose from 18.5% in 1971 to 28.5% in 2001.

Stoke-on-Trent has the lowest amount of "lonely" people, with a figure of 22.4%.

I don't think anyone before the BBC has done such an extensive study so I think we should investigate and utilise these findings
Steve Cardownie
Edinburgh City Council

Edinburgh's position has worsened over the years - in 1971 it was just above the Scottish average.

Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh City Council's deputy leader, said he was "startled and quite surprised" by the results.

He told the BBC Scotland news website: "I think these figures could come from the fact we have a large university base as well as a large financial sector, with young professionals who move here to work and live on their own as they don't have a family yet.

"The council does its best to encourage people to join in with their community with, for example, notices in libraries in different languages, and we have a translation service.

"I don't think anyone before the BBC has done such an extensive study so I think we should investigate and utilise these findings."

'Tenement community'

He said people in one-person households might not necessarily feel lonely.

"I grew up in a tenement community in the city and there still are areas in Edinburgh with a community spirit, but maybe some of these communities have dispersed now as people move into different styles of homes where, for example, they are now not passing people in a stairwell," he said.

"We have also had a general change in the way we live.

"We can order our groceries online, have our cars parked right outside our doors to whisk us off to work and people are downloading films and watching sport on multi-channel packages at home instead of going to the pub to watch them.

"I think it also depends on what people's personalities are like, as some people who live on their own may have a very entertaining life and enjoy being on their own."

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