How is lockdown affecting our relationships?

A nationwide survey will explore personal relationships may have changed during lockdown, including how confinement has impacted domestic, work, leisure and social habits.

Date: 17 June 2020

A team of experts is investigating how the coronavirus lockdown has impacted on people’s relationships and routines.

Social researchers from London Metropolitan University alongside others from the University of Nottingham, the University of Manchester and the University of East Anglia have launched a nationwide questionnaire to explore how personal relationships may have changed during lockdown, including how confinement has impacted domestic, work, leisure and social habits.

A similar study has successfully been carried out in France, which received more than 16,000 responses and found that women were the ‘great communicators’ of lockdown, developing new contacts and strengthening old friendships.

The researchers from the UK hope to be able to compare the responses, in order to assess the impact of lockdown across the two countries.

The anonymous survey is open to everyone, and can be completed on computers, tablets and smartphones. Participants will be asked questions about the conditions of their housing, their work situation - such as whether they have been furloughed or are working from home, as well as their daily activities both before and during lockdown. It will take approximately 20 minutes to complete.

Louise Ryan, Senior Professor at London Metropolitan University said: “The coronavirus lockdown has brought unprecedented changes for our social lives - but everyone’s experience will be different, so we want to encourage as many people as possible to fill in our questionnaire.

“We expect to uncover deep social inequalities, with levels of isolation and relationship breakdown affected by factors like people’s living conditions, income security and access to technology.

“As the government looks to lift some restrictions, our findings will provide crucial evidence about people’s priorities and the challenges some may face in their journeys to social recovery.”

Dr Elisa Bellotti, Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester said: “The lockdown experience has been sudden, scary and disruptive to our everyday lives - our survey aims to capture how this unprecedented event has affected our relationships both with the people we live with, and those we share our lives with. Did we reach out to friends, neighbours or colleagues to find or offer help? Did we reconnect with friends and relatives we hadn’t spoken to for a long time? Did we find ourselves overwhelmed by our relationships’ needs and requests? Has the pandemic ultimately shaped our significant social relations in unexpected ways?”

“Reaching out to the UK population to explore how they faced the threat of Covid-19 is essential to understand the short term and long-term consequences of the lockdown, and to provide evidence on how people may have been affected. We hope people will be willing to provide their own experience by participating in the survey.”

All are invited to take part in the survey. It will be open until 15 August for people to take part, and initial results are expected to be published in the autumn.

A cartoon showing people in different homes.