Power of the community – hard times bringing us closer together…

New research today reveals that hard times, including the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, are bring many communities closer together.

In the research, commissioned by Engage Britain and conducted by Opinium, a third (35%) of UK adults say over the last two years they feel closer to their local community, and one in five (21 percent) 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 those in the UK 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 the start of 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 say the ‘power of the people ‘ is facilitating change in our communities. 

Food and fuel poverty are one 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 (35%).

Looking at Britain as a whole, those in Scotland feel the most secure in their communities (65%) while London had the most pride (46%), along with a similar number of those in Yorkshire and the North West. 

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 they’ve connected with their 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.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

Case studies and spokespeople available on request.

Media contact: Freya Barnes, Head of Media (0203 953 6329)

Methodology 

  • Research conducted by Opinium 6th – 9th May 2022. Sample was 2,000 UK adults, weighted to be nationally representative.