Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)

How lockdown has ruined our relationsh­ips

- By Vanessa Chalmers © Daily Mail, London

Britain's lockdown has ruined people's relationsh­ips with friends and loved ones, according to a study.

A fifth of 70,000 respondent­s admitted they had grown distant from friends outside their own home and 18 per cent said the same had happened in their relationsh­ip with their partner, according to the research.

University College London academics say the draconian restrictio­ns on socialisin­g had driven a wedge between swathes of people.

However, there is also evidence Britons have united during the crisis and are helping others more often, they said.

The results come from an ongoing survey that started in March and was funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

It began a week before lockdown and has continued through the past few months, measuring how Britons have fared through the unpreceden­ted measures.

A quarter of people said they had a worse relationsh­ips with colleagues.

Since Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised Britons to work from home as much as possible and millions ended up furloughed, contact with co-workers fizzled out.

Tensions were also high at home — a fifth of people polled reported a worsening of relationsh­ips with other adults they lived with.

Some adults said relations with their children had gone down the pan — 17 per cent of those who lived with their children and 19 per cent who lived apart.

The research did not dig deeper into why people felt their relationsh­ips had deteriorat­ed.

Relationsh­ips could have been impacted either by effect of spending more or less time with certain people.

Respondent­s were asked whether they had experience­d 'a breakdown' in their relationsh­ip with any family, friends, colleagues or neighbours since lockdown had come in, and 12 per cent of respondent said yes.

Younger adults (under 30) were more likely to say their relationsh­ips had suffered during lockdown, and over 60s the least.

Problems were more common among those with a mental illness or who live alone, as well as key workers and poorer people.

The team behind the research warned the problems may be exacerbate­d for these people by greater financial woes.

Fewer than half of people reported being in a similar financial position now as they were before lockdown.

Some 29 per cent admitted their financial situation had worsened and 27 per cent claimed to have seen an improvemen­t.

Cheryl Lloyd, of the Nuffield Foundation said: ' This research shows relationsh­ips with neighbours have improved since the Covid-19 crisis, especially for 30-59 year olds.

' While this suggests a resurgence in community spirit, it is cause for concern that the survey also show that people who are more vulnerable - those on lower household incomes and those with diagnosed mental health issues - are more likely to report worsening friendship­s and relationsh­ips during lockdown.'

The Covid-19 Social Study is the largest study into how adults are feeling about the lockdown, government advice and overall wellbeing and mental health.

Similar work by the Office for National Statistics ( ONS) has pointed to changes in people's mental health during lockdown.

One survey of more than 5,500 people suggested 14.3 per cent of the population — or 7.4million people — have suffered loneliness in the past seven days.

This group of people, dubbed the 'lockdown lonely', tend to be young, single or divorced, and renting.

However, Britons appear to be looking out for each other more often during the lockdown.

An ONS survey last week revealed the number of Britons helping someone outside their own home by cooking meals or buying their shopping quadrupled in April — the first full month of lockdown.

This is up from 11 per cent of adults who reported providing a regular service or help for a sick, disabled, or elderly person not living with them during 2017-2018.

And in the latest UCL study, more than a third of adults who live with children said they were getting on better with people around them, including neighbours.

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Lockdown has ruined relationsh­ips with friends and loved ones

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