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One in four adults not been hugged since pandemic began, survey finds
28 July 2021, 07:36 | Updated: 28 July 2021, 07:42
A quarter of adults in the UK have not been hugged in over a year, a study has found.
Cross-party think tank Demos carried out a survey of 1,000 UK adults in May, finding that more than a third of respondents had not been hugged for at least half a year, while 25 per cent had not shared a hug for a year or more.
The research also suggested that people were less likely to build new relationships than they were during the first coronavirus lockdown.
It found that 64 per cent of respondents had not made a new friend for six months, and 44 per cent had not done so in more than a year.
It came as people felt there were fewer opportunities to make connections, with 32 per cent saying it had been harder compared to the first lockdown.
However, 23 per cent said they believed there were more opportunities as restrictions began to be lifted.
The research also found that almost three-quarters of British people wanted to get to know the people who provide local services (71 per cent), with 64 per cent also hoping to meet the community members who use them.
Its report - The Social State - warned that there was a "huge risk" that community spirit prompted by the pandemic, which saw volunteers, friends and family provide food and support to vulnerable members, would be lost.
It called for public services to be altered, so it would be easier for people to form new relationships.
Polly Mackenzie, chief executive at Demos and author of The Social State, said: "Our new research out today worryingly shows that these gains we've made in community relationships earlier in the pandemic are in danger of being lost.
"If we're to build back stronger from the pandemic, we need to reimagine our public services for the 21st century as a way of strengthening our communities, relationships and social capital."
A government spokeswoman said the issue of loneliness would be "a priority" moving forward.
"We are acutely aware that for many people the issue of loneliness will not simply just go away as restrictions begin to ease and tackling loneliness remains a priority for this government," she said.
"Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have invested over £34 million in charities specifically focused on reducing loneliness.
"We have also recently launched the second round of the £4 million Local Connections Fund in partnership with the National Lottery Community Fund, helping to support people to make meaningful and lasting connections in their communities."