Professor Dominic Abrams from the University’s School of Psychology has commented on how those living in areas investing in social cohesion perceive Covid-19 government restrictions as most appropriate and have greater trust in others to abide Covid-19 government restrictions. He said:
‘As we begin to ease out of lockdown, patience continues to be required in communities to comply with the government restrictions still in place. Trust in local communities and towards the Government plays a big role in how communities comply with these restrictions, as found in my latest research.
‘The six local areas surveyed had invested in social cohesion (Bradford, Blackburn with Darwen, Calderdale, Walsall, Waltham Forest and Peterborough). In those areas, levels of trust, particularly local trust, have been more resilient than elsewhere. Residents reported higher levels of trust in local government’s response to Covid-19 (8.2% higher).
‘This trust perhaps reflects the strength of relationships developed pre-pandemic via investment in social cohesion. In particular, all the areas have maintained and sustained a high level of trust in local level policy competence. This was despite some experiencing higher infection rates and stricter restrictions than other parts of the country.
‘Trust in our institutions and government and trust in each other are vital elements of social cohesion and indeed to the successful functioning of our democracy. From the vaccine roll out, to engaging diverse groups and communities in recovery efforts, to mitigating the impact of the pandemic on mental health and loneliness, strengthening trust and social connection will be vital on the road to recovery.
‘The six local areas in our research have put local communities at the heart of creating kinder, connected and empowered local places. This has been achieved with a relatively modest investment. The Government must build on the learnings from our research and others to embed principles of social cohesion into relevant national policy agendas, working in partnership with local government to support a locally tailored approach.’
The research paper ‘The social cohesion investment: Communities that invested in integration programmes are showing greater social cohesion in the midst of the COVID‐19 pandemic’ (Dr Fanny Lalot, Professor Dominic Abrams – both University of Kent; Jo Broadwood, Kaya Davies Hayon, Isobel Platts‐Dunn – Belong – The Cohesion and Integration Network) is published by the Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology. doi: 10.1002/casp.2522
The Beyond Us and Them research project by the University of Kent and Belong – The Cohesion and Integration Network will be the basis to develop further recommendations on how other areas in the UK can boost social cohesion and build resilient communities. The final Beyond Us and Them report will be released in September 2021.