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2021: importance of communities set to remain high as people identify loneliness and isolation as a key issue to tackle in their local area

New research out today from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, shows that the pandemic has helped to reignite people’s interest in their local community and sparked a desire to be more involved in 2021.

  • Seven in ten people in the UK (69%) feel like they are part of their local community – over a third (35%) say that COVID has made them feel even more so
  • Three in ten (30%) say that as a result of the pandemic they plan to be more involved in their local community this year
  • 2021: people say that reducing loneliness and isolation is top of the agenda for the wellbeing of their local community – supporting mental health also seen as important for the year ahead
  • The findings reveal a more caring, community-focussed outlook in the UK for 2021, which could lead to another strong year for innovative local projects seeking National Lottery funding.

Across the UK almost seven in ten people (69%) feel like they are part of their local community, with around a third acknowledging that COVID has increased their sense of belonging (35%) and also made it more important for them to feel part of it (33%).

The survey of over 7,000 UK adults across the UK is nationally and politically representative and asks how people are feeling about their community and their ambitions for their local area for the year ahead.

After a year which thrust community spirit into the spotlight, three in ten (30%) say that they plan to get more involved in their local community in 2021. But as well as enjoying a greater appreciation of their local community, people also have a firm sense of the challenges their community faces and what will be important in their local area this year.

Reducing loneliness and isolation (47%), helping the local economy (43%), supporting mental health (39%) and helping local people to live healthily and well (38%) are all seen as important for their community’s wellbeing this year.

Other 2021 priorities are access to natural green spaces (52%), providing young people with places to go and activities to do (48%) and community activities that bring people together (38%) – all of which could potentially help with another concern for communities, which is safety on the streets (54%).

Interestingly, many of the changes people most want to see for their community in the year ahead are behavioural. These include people caring and looking out for each other (50%), a focus on supporting each other and good neighbourliness (45%), and parents spending quality time with their children (42%).

2020 also appears to have opened people’s eyes to the great work being done by many within their communities with a majority (65%) saying that local community groups and projects, volunteers and charities deserve more recognition. And when thinking of what they most want for their local community in 2021, just over a third (34%) want to see support for community projects and charities.

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