New research highlights the importance of communities and identifies loneliness as a key issue
- Three quarters of people surveyed in Northern Ireland (74%) feel like they are part of their local community with over a third (34%) saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased their sense of belonging.
- 30% say that as a result of the pandemic they plan to be more involved in their local community this year.
- People say that reducing loneliness and isolation is top of the agenda for the well-being of their local community in 2021.
- The findings reveal a more caring, community-focused outlook for 2021, which could lead to another strong year for innovative projects seeking National Lottery funding.
New research out today from The National Lottery Community Fund, reveals that the pandemic has helped people see the benefits of being part of their local community and sparked a desire to be more involved in 2021.
Three quarters of people in Northern Ireland (74%) feel like they are part of their local community, with around a third acknowledging that the pandemic has increased their sense of belonging (34%) and also made it more important for them to feel part of it (35%).
The survey of over 600 adults in Northern Ireland was demographically and politically representative and asked how people were feeling about their community and their ambitions for their local area for the year ahead. 7000 people were surveyed in total across the UK for this research.
After a year which thrust community spirit into the spotlight, 30% of people in Northern Ireland say that they plan to get more involved in their local community in 2021. But as well as enjoying a greater appreciation, people also have a firm sense of the challenges faced and what will be important in their local area this year.
Reducing loneliness and isolation (53%), supporting mental health (48%), helping the local economy (48%) and helping people to live healthily and well (39%), are all seen as important.
Interestingly, many of the changes most want to see for their community in the year ahead are behavioural. These include people caring (57%), a focus on supporting each other and good neighbourliness (55%), and parents spending quality time with their children (44%).
A project that has really stepped up to care for those in their local area during this difficult time is DEEDs (Dementia Engaged in Derry & Strabane), which is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund to support people with mild to moderate dementia and their families in the Derry/Londonderry and Strabane areas.
George McGowan, Project Director at the Old Library Trust Healthy Living Centre in Creggan, Derry/Londonderry, described the excellent work all his staff, in particular the DEEDs Team have been involved in since March. He said: “This year has been one of the hardest, but along with this, we have seen a real community spirit like never before, so I would completely agree with these findings.
“We had to change the way we normally do things to help reach those in need and it could not have been possible without the commitment of our brilliant band of volunteers. We have been supporting our most vulnerable by giving out different packs which helped those living with dementia and their carers to stay stimulated at home.
“We took our DEEDs music programme to the doorsteps of families and groups who may be isolated, which lifted everyone’s spirits – it was amazing, and people told us how it was the highlight of their week.
“Many people have gone above and beyond to help their neighbours and others across communities, and as we enter another year and a new lockdown, this is only set to continue. We are inspired every day by the community response and community spirit we see alive and well.”
2020 also appears to have opened people’s eyes to the great work like this happening within communities. 69% said that local community groups and projects, volunteers and charities deserve more recognition. 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.
National Lottery players, across the UK, raise £30 million each week for good causes. * In Northern Ireland during 2020, The National Lottery Community Fund has distributed over £27.2 million to over 900 projects, funding many that are bringing people together, tackling loneliness and isolation, supporting young people and benefiting the environment. This research demonstrates what is important to people and this is reflected in the grant requests we receive and the conversations we have with grant holders.
Kate Beggs, Northern Ireland Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “During 2020, communities across Northern Ireland demonstrated the amazing things people can do to support each other during challenging times. This research shows the power of this and the impact on how we feel about the areas we live in and the people around us - making more of us appreciate our community and want to get involved.
“At The National Lottery Community Fund, we believe that local communities know best what they need. The research highlights areas that the projects we already fund are trying to address, and helps us look forward to a new year working with groups with great ideas applying for National Lottery funding.
“Well done to everyone who has stepped up to help their community and thanks to National Lottery players for making the money possible.”
This research was conducted on behalf of The National Lottery Community Fund by Opinium Research between 27th November and 8th December 2020 across the UK.
- Date published
- Northern Ireland