The Social Cohesion Investment: Local areas that invested in social cohesion programmes are faring better in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic

Is greater social cohesion associated with greater optimism, social activism and better relationships with neighbours? What influences how much people trust their local council and the government? What influences how well a community copes during the Covid-19 pandemic?

This report presents findings from our research project, ‘Beyond Us and Them’ by the University of Kent with Belong – the Cohesion and Integration Network. The research is funded by the Nuffield Foundation and explores social cohesion during the Covid-19 crisis. The report presents headline findings on trust and cohesion from comparisons between six local authority areas that have invested in cohesion programmes versus other places in the UK.

The report found:

  • People living in areas that invested in social cohesion are coping better with the Covid 19 pandemic
  • Areas with investment in social cohesion see residents more involved in social action, more likely to volunteer and with improved relationships with family and neighbours
  • Overall, areas who invested in social cohesion are seeing factors indicating greater social resilience during the Covid-19 crisis
  • Our research makes a strong case for the benefits of investing in social cohesion, factors influencing cohesion and provides a roadmap for how other communities can rebuild and recover from the pandemic.

Other key findings include:

  • People in social cohesion investment areas were twice as likely to be involved in social activism during the Covid-19 pandemic than those elsewhere in the UK
  • In areas investing in cohesion, one in four people (24%) had volunteered in the past month compared to just eight per cent elsewhere
  • People living in investment areas reported their relationships with family and neighbours had improved during Covid-19 while those elsewhere rated these relationships as staying the same or declining.
  • People in cohesion investment areas were also more likely to say they were optimistic about the future than those living elsewhere (54 per cent versus 48 per cent respectively).
  • Positive attitudes towards people from immigrant backgrounds were also more common among those in cohesion investment areas compared to elsewhere

You can download the full report here 

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