Nuhaa was only eight years old when she moved to Canada after escaping violence in Syria. But adjusting to life in her new home, and connecting to her community, wasn’t easy. “I missed my family and I was scared of going to school because I was shy,” she says. “I was afraid nobody would want to play with me or be my friend because I didn’t speak English.” Social isolation, or feeling cut off from community, is a common struggle for many newcomers like Nuhaa. It can also have devastating effects on people, families and entire neighbourhoods. And yet we know that 1 in 3 Canadians do not report a strong, or very strong, sense of belonging to their local community. For newcomers, seniors and people living with disabilities, social isolation can also lead to a host of physical and mental health challenges.
Social isolation across Greater Toronto is an unignorable issue that demands our attention. That’s why United Way supports vital programs and services across Peel, Toronto and York Region that help newcomers, seniors and people with disabilities connect with their communities. Last year, more than 2 million services were accessed by people like Nuhaa because of people like you who care. We invested in thousands of local community collaborations and engagement events across Greater Toronto that brought people together and empowered residents to lead where they live. Because when people feel like they belong, our communities are stronger, healthier and more vibrant places to live.