Islington, the worst place in Britain for women

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Islington is the worst place for women to live in the UK.

This is the conclusion of a study carried out by social research institute NatCen for BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. This result highlights that changes are needed to improve many aspects of life in our borough.

Relying on existing, current, reliable and relevant data, NatCen’s researchers created an index to rank all 380 British Local Authorities. This ranking was also adjusted according to age to identify best and worst places to be a younger, middle-aged or older woman.

The NatCen report states: “Islington performed near the bottom of the distribution on wellbeing, environmental quality, housing affordability and safety. Scoring 379th out of 380 on personal wellbeing overall, residents of Islington reported among the lowest levels of happiness (371st) life satisfaction (372nd) and feelings that their life is worthwhile (379th). They also reported among the highest levels of anxiety (367th).

“The borough also ranked second to last on the environmental quality domain, with particularly high concentrations of NO2 and PM10 (ranking 377th and 378th) and limited access to green space (ranking 358th). Housing in Islington was among the least affordable in Britain, with the median house priced at over 16 times the local median income. Islington was ranked 369th out of 380 in crime, with 122 reported offences per 1,000 people.

“Islington ranked near the middle of the distribution on income and life expectancy. Although it ranked 16th in Great Britain on women’s full-time wages (£16.35 per hour), a large gender wage gap (men’s median income is 17% higher than women’s) bumped the LAs domain ranking to 105th. Islington ranked 205th in terms of life expectancy, with women’s average life expectancy birth 83.1 years.

“Islington scored in the top 100 LAs on two indicators: access to culture and entertainment and education. It ranked 84th overall on culture, with over two in five residents reporting having gone to a museum (42%) or the cinema (40%) in the past year and around one in three reporting have been to an art exhibition (36%) or a public library (31%). It also ranked 20th in the education domain with 70% of residents reporting NVQ3 or higher and 58% reporting NVQ4 or higher.”

Islington underperformed among younger and older women, ranking 379 out 380 for women under 30 and last for older women. It rated poorly across all three of the domains specific to older women. “It ranked 375th in terms of local demographics with only 8.8% of the local population above the age of 65. It ranked 346th on the proportion of older women living alone, with 43.5% of older women living on their own. It also ranked 373rd out of 202nd (sic.) on female mortality rate, with a rate of 867 deaths per 100,000 people”

Highbury resident Kate Pothalingam reacted to this study, pointing out: “It is a great shame that the Council’s plan, announced without consultation, to close Sotheby Mews Day Centre is creating such distress and anxiety amongst its users; it provides a fantastic antidote to the loneliness experienced by older women in Islington as highlighted by the BBC Woman’s Hour research. Users of the Day Centre feel badly let down by Islington Council, having previously been told that there were “no plans at all to close” it.

“Labour’s Janet Burgess tweeted that the survey scores #Islington “quite highly for residents accessing culture such as libraries, exhibitions & museums”.   Whilst undoubtedly true for some, this is not easy when you are having to do two jobs just to make ends meet.”

Ilana Lever who lives in Nag’s Head added:  “I am surprise to hear Labour say this is not an Islington they recognise. Of course, those who feel already isolated, unsafe and alone aren't as present and vocal in society. We need to be far more innovative and interconnected in our approach to dealing with these issues - but above all, actually recognise they exist.”

While many choose to live in Islington and love the environment it provides, we cannot ignore the results of this study: many groups and communities in Islington are desperate to see improvements.