A new study from the Office for National Statistics, ‘Unity and division in Great Britain,’ confirms that the shared threat of COVID-19 did prompt a new sense of community, writes Sunder Katwala, as people looked out for neighbours and clapped together each Thursday night – but that this has faded over time, without disappearing altogether.
This echoes the findings of British Future’s own research, published last month in the report Remembering the kindness of strangers: Division, unity and social connection during and beyond COVID-19.
People will be disappointed by that and want to know how we can turn it around.
So the question now should not be whether increasing division is inevitable, but rather what we are going to do about it – especially as the impact of the Covid recession bites unevenly across our society.
Finding shared moments that connect us and bring us together, even if we’re two metres apart, will be increasingly important.
That’s why British Future is supporting the new Talk/together project, which invites everyone to share their views on what could help bring us together, with an online survey and public conversations across the country.
British Future is a founding member of the Together Coalition, which seeks to help build a kinder, closer and more connected society. The Talk/together project aims to be the biggest public consultation since the census, asking what unites and divides us, and how we can bring people closer together. Talk/together includes an open, online survey at www.together.org.uk, discussion groups with the public and stakeholders in every nation and region of the UK and nationally-representative research later this year.
A webinar event next week (Friday 4th September 12.30pm) as part of Talk/together discusses the question ‘What could bring us together or pull us apart beyond Covid-19?’ with a panel featuring LBC presenter and political pundit Iain Dale, Young Vic Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah, former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Near Neighbours Programme Director Elizabeth Carnelley.