On behalf of the entire team at NeighbourLink North York we'd like to wish you and your loved ones Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas. As the temperature drops my heart is warm thinking of the ways we came together to celebrate the holidays at our We Love Willowdale Christmas Market, Holiday Potluck for Newcomers, Christmas Party at Willowdale Manor and Holiday Food Hub. Despite the joy I’ve witnessed this Christmas season I’m also reminded that for so many in our community and beyond, the holidays can be a very difficult and lonely time.
At NeighbourLink one of our missions is to alleviate social isolation. Social isolation is defined as a low quantity and quality of contact with others and can lead to poor health, loneliness, emotional distress and other negative effects. In fact, a 2017 study published in the journal of American Psychology found that lacking social connection was as dangerous for mortality as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. A clinical trial at Mount Sinai hospital concluded that loneliness may contribute to 45,000 deaths in Canada each year!
Our city unfortunately leads in this area. 37% of Torontonians (925,000 people) feel lonely at least 3 days a week and over 50% of adults feel depressed at least one day a week. Thanks to support from neighbours like you, Neighbour, we’ve been able to combat this growing problem through our programming and events. I reach out to you today seeking your support to continue alleviating social isolation in 2024.
Here are the groups we’ve been able to support this year:
YOUTH: In 2021, 38% of Ontario teenaged students reported fair or poor mental health. 44% of TDSB secondary students reported feeling lonely all the time or often which is up up from 22% in 2017. Our Youth Program Coordinator Jordan, has seen the positive impact that our basketball drop-in, summer camp and after-school programming has had on the mental health of under-resourced youth in our community. Our Youth Mobilization Network made up of over 100 students from local high schools has provided meaningful volunteer opportunities that spark social interaction and develop leadership skills.
SENIORS: Nearly one in five Canadians 65 years and older say they lack companionship while one-third of older Canadians are at risk of being socially isolated. You can hear from our neighbour Vincent, a resident at Willowdale Manor describe how our bi-weekly senior programming has alleviated isolation for many of the residents there. CLICK HERE
NEWCOMERS:The Toronto Vital Signs Report states that the number of people who always or often have someone to depend on decreased from 75% in 2014 to 59% in 2022, leaving 41% of adults in Toronto — just over a million people — unsure of whether they have someone to depend on. This includes many newcomers arriving in Toronto not knowing anyone and feeling extreme loneliness. This year we witnessed how our Newcomer Welcome Teas and virtual Q&A Sessions led to a close knit network of Ukrainian newcomers supporting one another. We hope to replicate this model with other newcomer groups in 2024.
GENERAL PUBLIC:People who frequently use public spaces and attend community events have higher life satisfaction and tend to have a broader network of friends, know more of their neighbours, trust people and institutions. We saw over 50K people attend our community-building events like our Let’s Move Willowdale Move-a-thon & BBQ, Willowdale Yard Sale Day, Taste of North York and We Love Willowdale Christmas Market. We’ve also built a volunteer network of 500+ neighbours volunteering over 4000 hours this year. We’ve seen these events and volunteer opportunities lead to new friendships and a deeper sense of belonging. As we always say, life is better when we know our neighbours!
We are optimistic about what the future holds for 2024! We’ve reached 89% of our $75K Goal. These are the funds needed to continue running these programs and events in the new year! Will you help us cross the finish line by New Years Eve? Your support will significantly impact our ability to sustain and expand our programs, services and events, allowing us to continue serving under-resourced and marginalized individuals in our community.Please visit our donation page where you can:
Make an Individual Donation
Become a Monthly Donor and make a lasting impact in 2024
Check out our Holiday Gift Guide
Thank you for your consideration. We will be off for the next two weeks, but will be back in the new year to continue to serve you. In the meantime, if you or someone you know is struggling, please Click Here for a comprehensive list of mental health support resources in Toronto.
It’s been a joy to serve this community for another year and to have met so many of you at our events. I’m wishing you the very best for the holidays and new year!
All good things,
Marketing & Event Manager
NeighbourLink North York