We all know that human beings are social animals, and with that comes a basic need to belong. The benefits of social connectedness are varied and well reported; strong social connection has been linked with longevity, stronger immune systems, higher self-esteem and lower levels of anxiety and depression.

In turn, research indicates that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. It’s also been associated with declines in physical and mental health.

Given that almost half of UK university students feel lonely, it is an area of wellbeing that is worth concentrating on. When it comes to creating student connection, much effort is put into creating community on campus. That is vital, but it is just a part of the picture.

Students would benefit from a more holistic approach to connecting, which extends not just to their university surroundings but to the local community too. Here we take a look at some practical ways students can integrate with their local non-university community.

Read on for our eight suggestions for how students can better integrate with their local communities…