New research has revealed that hard times, including the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, are bringing many communities closer together. A third (35%) of people say over the last two years they feel closer to their local community. And one in five (21 percent) of UK adults say they feel LESS lonely than they were before lockdown because of this.
The last two years have brought us closer to our neighbours – even if it’s a cheerful hello and a friendly wave. There’s a real sense of old-fashioned neighbourliness with around a quarter (24%) of Brits sharing with their neighbours e.g. borrowing a cup of sugar; while 20% have joined an online social group like a community WhatsApp or Facebook page.
That’s the conclusion of Engage Britain, a charity working with grassroots groups across the UK to demonstrate the power of local communities not only the government, to change lives.
The charity is publishing new research, to mark their ‘Reconnection Tour ‘ of local communities across the country. The Tour celebrates the innovative ways communities are connecting throughout covid and the cost of living crisis, and how their support can transform lives.
From a Curry Circle in Bradford providing a free meal, hot drinks and a clean warm environment on a weekly basis to the Squirrel’s Nest in Wales; a workshop where men can open up about their mental health. Engage Britain says the ‘power of the people ‘ is facilitating change in our communities.
Food and fuel poverty is one of the biggest challenges faced by people in their local community, with 31% of people saying it’s a problem in their area. Women particularly feel strongly about this (34%) compared to one in four men (26%).
The research also found that fear of local businesses closing was a top issue, with one in five (19%) across the UK saying it was of real concern.
But the polling highlighted that the majority of people feel secure in their communities (57%), with a strong sense of belonging.
Looking at Britain as a whole, those in Scotland feel the most secure in their communities (65%) while Yorkshire and the North West had the most pride (46%), along with London.
Engage Britain’s Director, Julian McCrae said:
“The hard times we’re living through in Britain have left too many people struggling and isolated. But incredibly there are millions of us who feel less lonely than before the pandemic began because we’ve connected with our local communities.
“Throughout covid and the cost of living crisis, communities across the country have stepped up to help – improvising, innovating and adapting in ways that are transforming people’s lives.
“We want these incredible stories to show that local communities, not just the government, have the power to change lives. And that real change in this country can and should happen from the grassroots up.”