The events of 2020 have had a profound impact on the lives of people around the world, but new research proves that perhaps the biggest impact of the coronavirus pandemic is closer to home.
Research from The National Lottery Community Fund shows that the pandemic has reignited the UK public’s interest in their local communities. In light of the difficulties that 2020 posed for many, there is a desire now to be more involved in our local communities in 2021.
69% of people surveyed feel like they are part of their local community. A third of those people acknowledged that COVID-19 had increased their sense of belonging (33%) and increased the importance of feeling part of a community.
Last year, The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) carried out our own survey to see what impact the pandemic was having on our volunteers and to value the importance of our work.
72% of volunteers we spoke to said that they felt their social connectedness has got worse during the lockdown, yet 64% said that they felt that the value of community had increased.
Communities and their importance will continue to be at the forefront of people’s minds in 2021. The National Lottery Community Fund reported that three in ten people in the UK plan to get more involved with their local community this year.
Communities has always been central to the work that we do at TCV. We work to connect people to green spaces to create happy and healthy communities.
In the midst of this current lockdown, most our volunteering sessions have been suspended again in accordance with government guidelines. However, with reports that community spirit will continue to be a priority for many people in the UK in 2021, it gives us a positive outlook for when we can fully return to volunteering once again.
The National Lottery Community Fund’s report revealed that 52% of people in the UK believe that access to green spaces should be a priority in 2021.
Undoubtedly green spaces have become vital for many people during the various lockdowns across the UK. 73% of our volunteers agreed that the value of green spaces during the pandemic has increased.
For over 60 years, TCV volunteers have worked tireless 52 weeks a year to improve their local green spaces. Not only for themselves to enjoy, but for the members of their communities as well.
Loved and cared for green spaces not only add value to these areas, but to the wellbeing of the people who live there.
Safe and accessible green spaces have not only provided space for people to maintain their physical health through the coronavirus pandemic. Access to green spaces have been proven to have a positive impact on our mental health as well.
With 72% of our volunteers telling us that their social connectedness had decreased during their first lockdown, providing these safe and accessible green spaces has never been more important.
Loneliness was already an issue in the UK before the coronavirus hit. In 2018, the UK Government established a new Ministry of Loneliness to address ‘the public health epidemic of loneliness with serious physical and mental implications’.
With social distancing being a part of our lives since the pandemic hit in March 2020, the impact of being socially disconnected on our mental health has moved to the forefront of the public consciousness.
The National Lottery’s report discovered that the majority of people want to focus on creating happier and healthier lives within their community. 47% of people agreed that reducing loneliness and isolation was important for their community’s wellbeing in 2021.
At TCV, our Green Gym’s help to encourage people not only to make a difference to the natural environment of their community, but to their mental wellbeing also. By working alongside neighbours, friends, and other like-minded volunteers, social isolation decreases and people begin to feel part of their local community.
A look to the future
With dark and cold days and another lockdown within the UK, it can feel overwhelming at times. At TCV, we are remaining positive about what 2021 holds for us as a charity.
We have been grateful for the support of our donors, funders, partners and our team. The National Lottery Community Fund’s report that communities and green spaces are set to remain high on the public’s agenda in 2021, we are excited to welcome new volunteers to our groups across the UK.