Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Apart but not alone? A cross-sectional study of neighbour support in a major UK urban area during the COVID-19 lockdown

Jones, Mat; Beardmore, Amy; Biddle, Michele; Gibson, Andy; Ismail, Sanda Umar; McClean, Stuart; White, Jo

Apart but not alone? A cross-sectional study of neighbour support in a major UK urban area during the COVID-19 lockdown Thumbnail


Profile Image

Mathew Jones
Professor of Public Health

Profile Image

Amy Beardmore
Senior Lecturer in Public Health

Andy Gibson
Associate Professor in Patient and Public Involve

Sanda Ismail
Senior Lecturer in Public Health

Profile Image

Dr Stuart McClean
Associate Professor Public Health (Health & Wellbeing)

Jo White
Senior Research Fellow in Public Involvement


Background: Evidence from a range of major public health incidents shows that neighbour-based action can have a critical role in emergency response, assistance and recovery. However, there is little research to date on neighbour-based action during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. This article reports on a survey of people engaged in supporting their neighbours in weeks three and four of the UK COVID-19 lockdown.

Methods: Members of area-based and community of interest COVID-19 support groups in the Bristol conurbation were invited to complete an online survey. Of 1,255 people who clicked on the survey link, 862 responded; of these, 539 responses were eligible for analysis.

Results: Respondents reported providing a wide range of support that went beyond health information, food and medical prescription assistance, to include raising morale through humour, creativity and acts of kindness and solidarity. A substantial proportion felt that they had become more involved in neighbourhood life following the lockdown and had an interest in becoming more involved in future. Neighbour support spanned all adult age groups, including older people categorised as being at-risk to the virus. With respect to most measures, there were no differences in the characteristics of support between respondents in areas of higher and lower deprivation. However, respondents from more deprived areas were more likely to state that they were involved in supporting certain vulnerable groups.

Conclusions: As with previous research on major social upheavals, our findings suggest that responses to the viral pandemic and associated social restrictions may increase existing social and health inequalities, and further research should explore this issue in more depth.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 10, 2020
Online Publication Date Jun 10, 2020
Publication Date Aug 11, 2020
Deposit Date Jun 12, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jun 15, 2020
Journal Emerald Open Research
Electronic ISSN 2631-3952
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2
Article Number 37
Keywords Community activism, mutual aid, informal care, health inequalities, social capital, crisis response and recovery, voluntarism
Public URL
Additional Information Referee status: Passed open peer review

Grant Information: This work was supported by the University of the West of England and the National Lottery Community Fund as part of the ‘Bristol Ageing Better’ programme grant. Michele Biddle’s time is supported by the National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration West (NIHR ARC West) at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.

Copyright: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations