Sainsbury’s launches 150 days of community initiative as Living Well Index uncovers a steep fall in the nation’s sense of wellbeing

The Sainsbury’s Living Well Index, one of the most comprehensive studies of how well the UK is living and why, has found that there has been a steep decline in the nation’s quality of life, caused in large part by a year of uncertainty and a lack of a sense of community.

To address the issues revealed by the study, Sainsbury’s is giving its 178,000 colleagues the opportunity to spend a day volunteering to help local causes under its 150 Days of Community initiative.

The fourth edition of the landmark study found that there has been a fall in the average Living Well Index score of the population as a whole – of 0.38 points year-on-year in the last twelve months. At 60.4, the overall score in June 2019 (based on a 0-100 scale) is almost a full point lower than it was at the Index’s launch in autumn 2017.

To put this in context, this 0.38 point drop in quality of life is equivalent to the decrease researchers found was associated with a reduction in disposable income of £260 a month, or a 18 per cent drop for the average household.

Perhaps surprisingly, it is working baby boomers who have borne the brunt of the decline, seeing their Index scores fall dramatically by 1.76 points, on average, in the last twelve months, more than four times the drop of the national population.

The key driver for the fall in the Sainsbury’s Living Well Index has been a notable deterioration in the quality of people’s relationships and social connections – pointing to a need to instil a stronger connection between communities, friends and family to enhance the national sense of wellbeing.

There was a particular decline in people’s quality of social connections (down 0.36 points in the index overall) and their relationships (which were down 0.29 points) which can be linked to an increased tendency to eat meals alone.

The frequency of social eating among adults in the survey fell significantly compared to a year ago contributing to 0.28 points fall in the Living Well Index score. The number of people who say they “always” eat alone has continued to rise in the last twelve months now reaching 10 per cent of the public.

The nation also feels less assured of its network of friends and family, with the average “support network” score falling by 0.19 year-on-year. The proportion of Britons who socialise with friends or family just once a month or less has risen from 44.6 per cent to 46.7 per cent over the past 12 months.

The research highlights the importance of fostering strong personal and community connections within local groups in towns and cities in order to enhance the national sense of wellbeing.

As part of its birthday celebrations Sainsbury’s is giving all of its colleagues a day off work to help in their local communities under its 150 Days of Community initiative, which will see 178,000 Sainsbury’s colleagues from across the Group volunteer their time to support and fund local causes.

Simon Roberts, Sainsbury’s Retail and Operations Director said:

“Our ambition is to help our customers to live well for less – it’s been at the heart of the company since we began 150 years ago.

“Sainsbury’s Living Well Index has found that over the last twelve months there has been a decline of the sense of community the nation feels as a whole, which has had a significant impact on our sense of wellbeing. To help bring back a sense of community for our customers and colleagues, we have launched our 150 Days of Community initiative, which enables all of our colleagues to spend a day volunteering and help support local causes.”

The Living Well Index, created by Sainsbury’s in partnership with leading researchers at the National Centre for Social Research and Oxford Economics, aims to define, measure and track what it means to live well and how the way we live our lives affects our sense of wellbeing.

The Sainsbury’s Living Well Index is the only survey of its kind and sees researchers probe more than 8,000 people about 60 different aspects of their behaviour and how they live their lives – from how much sleep they get and the strength of their finances, to how they feel about their jobs, the quality of their sex lives and the things they worry most about on a day-to-day basis.

To take part in a simplified version of the Sainsbury’s Living Well Index, get a personal Living Well score and to receive simple suggestions for actions to improve it, the public can go to living-well-index.

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