What makes the places we live, work and meet up in better places for our wellbeing?

  • Our social relationships are consistently found to be an important part of our overall wellbeing.
  • Understanding what communities and organisations can do to best support social relationships is less obvious.  
  • Here we bring together the global evidence base, sharing what’s currently known about various approaches, so that organisations and communities can do more of what looks like it helps and work together to understand how best we can make more of a difference to wellbeing and social connection in the UK.  

Back in 2017 we published a scoping review to find the evidence gaps in our understanding of improving social relations – a loose term that covers a wide variety of interactions, interconnections, and exchanges between human beings and the physical and social environment.  

The evidence review published today looks at public places and ‘bumping’ places designed for people to meet. Places like

  • squares, parks, play areas, village halls and community centres, even the streets themselves.

It also covers

  • places where people meet informally or are used as meeting places, such as cafes, pubs, libraries, schools and churches or events,

as well as

  • services that can facilitate access to places to meet, including urban design, landscape architecture and public art, transport, public health organisations, subsidised housing sites, and bus routes.

Key findings

Putting it into practice

In the visual summary below, each box contains approximate costs, potential community benefits, length of impact, and scale of impact (written above box).

This information was gathered from  a subset of the studies reviewed in the evidence review and is intended to give a general outline rather than an exhaustive review of the practicalities. It comes with a health warning: there was very little evidence beyond short-term impacts in the studies used. They are also based on assumptions about the length of time that infrastructure was in place, and from evidence elsewhere on the type of activity where effects may be longer term and where there may be adaptation. 


If your project, programme or activity has had an impact on loneliness in people of any age, please submit your evaluation reports to us. It could be used in a review to better understand what works to alleviate loneliness.