Health

Fifth of Brits say they aren't as close with their friends or lovers after lockdown

Britain’s lockdown has ruined people’s relationships with friends and loved ones, according to a study. 

A fifth of 70,000 respondents admitted they had grown distant from friends outside their own home and 18 per cent said the same had happened in their relationship with their partner, according to the research.

University College London academics say the draconian restrictions on socialising had driven a wedge between swathes of people. 

However, there is also evidence Britons have united during the crisis and are helping others more often, they said.

Lockdown has ruined relationships with friends and loved ones, according to a study of 70,000 people. Under 30s appear to be harder hit (stock image)

Lockdown has ruined relationships with friends and loved ones, according to a study of 70,000 people. Under 30s appear to be harder hit (stock image)

The results come from an ongoing survey that started in March and was funded by the Nuffield Foundation. 

It began a week before lockdown and has continued through the past few months, measuring how Britons have fared through the unprecedented measures.  

A quarter of people said they had a worse relationships with colleagues.

Since Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised Britons to work from home as much as possible and millions ended up furloughed, contact with co-workers fizzled out.

Tensions were also high at home — a fifth of people polled reported a worsening of relationships with other adults they lived with. 

Some adults said relations with their children had gone down the pan — 17 per cent of those who lived with their children and 19 per cent who lived apart.

WOMEN HARDEST HIT BY LOCKDOWN, STUDY SUGGESTS 

Women are almost twice as likely as men to have lost their job or suffered an anxiety attack during lockdown, according to a study that reveals how Covid-19 has driven widespread gender inequality.

In a survey of 1,500 people, researchers from the University of Exeter found that lockdown had highlighted gender inequalities across mental health, employment and wellbeing, with women most negatively impacted.

The study revealed that around one in four women had experienced an anxiety attack in the previous two weeks, compared with around one in seven men.

Women were also more likely to feel depressed or hopeless, and scored 6 per cent higher on a loneliness indicator.

The outlook for women’s employment was also bleak.

Women were 96 per cent more likely than men to have been made redundant because of the coronavirus pandemic, with 8 per cent of women reporting a job loss during lockdown compared with 4 per cent of men.

Women were more likely to have seen a reduction to their working hours during lockdown, while at the same time taking on more childcare, homeschooling and housework responsibilities than men. 

Women were more likely to have seen a reduction to their working hours during lockdown, while at the same time taking on more childcare, homeschooling and housework responsibilities than men.

The authors, Professor Sonia Oreffice and Professor Climent Quintana-Domeque, said their research paints a ‘dramatic picture’ of gender inequality under the Covid-19 lockdown.

‘We believe that the gender dimension of Covid-19 should be on the radar of policy-makers, and call for more Covid-19 gender-related research and policy analysis,’ said Professor Oreffice. 

The research did not dig deeper into why people felt their relationships had deteriorated. 

Relationships could have been impacted either by effect of spending more or less time with certain people.

Respondents were asked whether they had experienced ‘a breakdown’ in their relationship with any family, friends, colleagues or neighbours since lockdown had come in, and 12 per cent of respondent said yes. 

Younger adults (under 30) were more likely to say their relationships had suffered during lockdown, and over 60s the least.

Problems were more common among those with a mental illness or who live alone, as well as key workers and poorer people. 

The team behind the research warned the problems may be exacerbated for these people by greater financial woes.

Fewer than half of people reported being in a similar financial position now as they were before lockdown.

Some 29 per cent admitted their financial situation had worsened and 27 per cent claimed to have seen an improvement. 

Cheryl Lloyd, of the Nuffield Foundation said: ‘This research shows relationships with neighbours have improved since the Covid-19 crisis, especially for 30-59 year olds. 

‘While this suggests a resurgence in community spirit, it is cause for concern that the survey also show that people who are more vulnerable – those on lower household incomes and those with diagnosed mental health issues – are more likely to report worsening friendships and relationships during lockdown.’

The Covid-19 Social Study is the largest study into how adults are feeling about the lockdown, government advice and overall wellbeing and mental health.

Similar work by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has pointed to changes in people’s mental health during lockdown.

One survey of more than 5,500 people suggested 14.3 per cent of the population — or 7.4million people — have suffered loneliness in the past seven days.

This group of people, dubbed the ‘lockdown lonely’, tend to be young, single or divorced, and renting. 

However, Britons appear to be looking out for each other more often during the lockdown.

An ONS survey last week revealed the number of Britons helping someone outside their own home by cooking meals or buying their shopping quadrupled in April — the first full month of lockdown. 

This is up from 11 per cent of adults who reported providing a regular service or help for a sick, disabled, or elderly person not living with them during 2017-2018. 

And in the latest UCL study, more than a third of adults who live with children said they were getting on better with people around them, including neighbours.

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