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Kent's happiest places: Folkestone and Hythe see the biggest jump in life satisfaction, according to Office of National Statistics

Life satisfaction is up across Kent , according to the most recent Office for National Statistics survey.

The mean life satisfaction across the county was 7.74 in 2018/19 up from 7.68 in 2017/18 - scoring 0 is 'not at all satisfied' and 10 is 'completely satisfied'.

Folkestone Harbour Arm
Folkestone Harbour Arm

Of the areas seeing a rise, the highest mean scores were in Tonbridge and Malling with 8.10, Dartford with 8.04 and Ashford with 7.97.

The area with the greatest growth and second highest mean life satisfaction was Folkestone and Hythe, with 8.08 after scoring 7.49 the previous year.

Chris Smith, co-owner of The Chambers pub in Folkestone, says its the perfect area for people looking to relocate out of London, with a beautiful coast, night-life and just an hours train journey back up to the city.

He added: "Because of the cultural engagement down here, people love what's going on. They do try to get involved in it as much as possible with the great deal of music and art, which is a universal attraction for all ages. There's a great deal of classical art and contemporary art as well and things that are just much more for a young demographic.

"So there's plenty to engage in mind but as far as going out and finding places to eat and enjoy what's happening, folks here are absolutely bathed in it."

Chris and Liz Smith, co-owners of The Chambers pub in Folkestone
Chris and Liz Smith, co-owners of The Chambers pub in Folkestone

However, seven of the county's 13 local authorities have seen their life satisfaction drop between 2017/18 and 2018/19.

The lowest scoring of the areas which saw a drop in life satisfaction were Thanet with 7.28, Medway with 7.51 and Maidstone with 7.61.

People were also surveyed on whether they feel the things they do in life were worthwhile. Though this is down from 7.97 to 7.92 in Kent, this is above the national average of 7.88.

Thanet scored the lowest for this measure as well, scoring 7.6.

Elane McCarthy, centre manager for Cliftonville Community Centre, said she has noticed a lack of motivation in lots of the people the centre is offering welfare support and activities to.


With youth unemployment currently at 20% in the area, the manager adds that many jobs have been cut recently and she has seen many struggling with zero hours contracts.

Of a group run for those on universal credit, she said: "A lot them say they are sending lots of CVs for lots of jobs and don't even get acknowledgement they've sent it in.

"It can be difficult for people if they feel like they're working and going around asking, but they don't get any feedback. A lot of them looking for jobs for in long term feel quite down."

This was echoed by Howard Watson, owner of Comics and Sci-Fi World in Thanet. He said: "People find it very difficult to get motivated to do anything in this area. It's been known as quite a depressed area for a long time.

"Unless you've got something that you're pursuing yourself, I think a lot of people need some sort of guidance.

It may look bright and sunny, but according to recent stats Thanet has the lowest life satisfaction in Kent
It may look bright and sunny, but according to recent stats Thanet has the lowest life satisfaction in Kent

"Since boom-time in the 70s, it sort of went downhill a little bit, so people around here don't really have a lot of industry in the area. You've got to travel in order to find work."

Folkestone and Hythe was top of the list, as the mean worthwhile feelings were at 8.24, up from 8.05 the previous year.

Leader of Folkestone & Hythe District Council, Cllr David Monk, commented: “It is fantastic to see this significant jump in life satisfaction across Folkestone and Hythe.

“The district’s vibrant cultural scene has played a pivotal role in the increase in those looking to work, live, visit and invest, which includes a great work life balance with its coastline, a great restaurant, café and street food scene, independent shops, galleries and cafes in the Creative Quarter, and attractions like the Folkestone Artworks, the Harbour Arm and Folkestone Museum.”

It should be noted that the highest and lowest scoring areas are not significantly different from the county average.

Local authorities tend to use these statistics to get an idea of whether resident wellbeing is better or worse then the year before - not to compare areas which have a variety of circumstances impacting life satisfaction.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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