PEOPLE in Wales say that the pandemic will change their behaviour and lead to a longer-term boost in community spirit
New research from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, suggests that the pandemic could be a step-change moment for Wales, leading people to make lasting changes to how they live their lives and the connections they build with friends, family and the wider community.
As Wales fast approaches the anniversary of the first lockdown, almost eight in ten people (79%) say that they will change their behaviour as a result of the pandemic, with an emphasis on enjoying a simpler more pared back life post-COVID. Key changes include enjoying the simple pleasures in life more (47%), spending more time with friends and family (40%) and re-evaluating life priorities (32%).
Unsurprisingly, the COVID crisis has put a greater emphasis on health, with almost a third (31%) of respondents saying they intend to be healthier in future. The experiences of the last year have also made people want to be more neighbourly (31%), kinder (23%) and more environmentally friendly (25%).
People are also optimistic that changes in behaviour brought about by the pandemic will be widespread. Of those who say they are part of a community, over half (51%) think community spirit will be better in the long-run following the pandemic – just 10% say it will be worse – while many agree that the pandemic will have a positive impact on the amount people care about others (50%) and the environment (44%).
In the last challenging year, those who felt part of a community felt that it gave people a reassuring sense of ‘we’re all in this together’ (50%). They could see real benefits to being part of a community, including having people close by to help (37%), a sense of connection with others (39%) and a reduced sense of isolation (39%).
However, the biggest benefit of all was being able to give others support (41%), which confirms that helping others or volunteering brings its own rewards.
Ruth Bates, Wales Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, says:
“A year of crisis has put communities in the spotlight and changed how we view and value them. We’ve experienced the benefits of support, kindness and being there for each other, and seen for ourselves the strengths communities bring. Our research suggests that the lessons learnt through the pandemic will be long-lasting and could change how we interact with each other in the future.”
Ieuenctid Tysul Youth, a youth project based in the rural town of Llandysul, Ceredigion has supported its community throughout the pandemic. They received a £10,000 National Lottery grant to help their community develop and improve their gardening skills to help them grow their own food. The project has helped young people to feel more confident, reduce feelings of isolation, and an improvement their physical and mental wellbeing during the pandemic. Steve Parkin, the Project Manager told us:
“One positive that has arisen from the pandemic is the coming together of our community to recognise the importance of our natural environment and the vulnerability of our food supply chains. Over the past year we have been able to secure a community growing site and thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund grant we have hit the ground running, being able to install essential infrastructure and manage the project over the coming year, educating and inspiring others to take real action on climate change, reconnect with nature and build a more sustainable and resilient future together. As restrictions gradually ease the benefits to people’s mental and physical health and wellbeing through engaging with the project will be immense and have long lasting effects.”
National Lottery players raise £30 million a week for good causes. For more information on The National Lottery Community Fund and the funding available to support communities visit www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding.