The Big Conversation survey - East Sussex results revealed

More than six months since a national lockdown was levied on March 23, life in the UK has changed beyond recognition.

Friday, 2nd October 2020, 3:19 pm

Employees have moved to working from home en masse, meeting up with over six people is now a crime enshrined in law and face mask wearing is mandatory in much of the public sphere.

All these changes have uprooted and altered many people’s attitudes, priorities and lives, which is why we asked readers across the county about what’s changed for you in our Big Conversation survey.

The survey looked at a range of issues surrounding the pandemic, including changes to personal lives, travel habits, health, employment, local life and fears and hopes for the post-pandemic world.

Friends enjoy the view from the top of Mount Caburn, East Sussex (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

In East Sussex, 634 people took part in the survey.

One of the most stark responses we received from you was about mental health.

Sixty four per cent of you said your mental health had been affected by the pandemic – with 42 per cent saying slightly affected, and 22 per cent saying strongly affected.

Here is a round-up of the results.

Getting out and about

City and town centres have suffered as a result of the pandemic, with a sustained drop in footfall even after March lockdown restrictions were lifted.

This is reflected in answers from respondents, with the majority saying they have visited their town or city centre ‘a lot less’ (36.1 per cent) or ‘less’ (24.27 per cent) than they did prior to lockdown.

Just 3.23 per cent said they are visiting ‘more’, and 0.61 per cent ‘a lot more’.

In terms of confidence in venturing out of the house, ‘visiting beaches, parks and green spaces’ is an activity that 44 per cent of respondents said they feel either ‘comfortable’ or ‘very comfortable’ doing.

This stands in contrast to ‘going on holidays abroad’, which just 10.18 per cent feel ‘very comfortable’ with, and 14.39 per cent ‘comfortable’ with.

Visiting family was an activity most felt comfortable with doing, with 39.32 per cent saying they feel ‘very comfortable’ visiting family, and 42.51 per cent saying they feel ‘comfortable’ with the idea.

Confidence in taking public transport is low, with 74 per cent of respondents saying they feel either ‘not comfortable’ or ‘not at all comfortable’ with it.

Respondents were unsure how confident they felt sending their children back to school, with the majority - 42.09 per cent - saying they didn’t know or weren’t sure how comfortable they felt with the idea.

Personal life

Respondents voted ‘visiting family’ as the most important activity for a good quality of life - either pre- or post-pandemic - with 76.96 per cent saying this was important to their personal quality of life.

Eating at cafes/restaurants was a fairly close second, with 61.75 per cent of respondents saying this was important to their personal quality of life.

Forty two per cent of respondents said going on a holiday or short break in the UK was important to their quality of life.

More than half of respondents have become more thrifty since the pandemic began, with 56.64 per cent saying they’ve cut back on spending.

And while the High Street may have suffered from a drop in footfall, many local businesses have done well as a result of the crisis, with 44.14 per cent of respondents saying they are supporting local businesses more than they once were.

Getting online

Most respondents believe they’ve adapted to the move of many activities online well, with 47.62 per cent saying they’ve adapted ‘very well’ and 38.71 per cent saying they’ve adapted ‘fairly well’.

For those who have struggled in some regard, the biggest problem – suffered by 50 per cent of respondents – was not having someone to turn to for help.

Employment

At the time of the survey, 56.07 per cent of respondents said they are currently in paid work,

followed by 33.03 per cent who aren’t.

Just 2.46 per cent of respondents were on furlough.

Job security or income was a worry for some, with 34 per cent of respondents saying they were ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ about their job security or income, while 50 per cent said they were ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ about their personal or household finances.

Fears, concerns and hopes

There are some things that people want to see change permanently post-pandemic.

The largest proportion of respondents – 87 per cent – said action to shift the work/life balance in favour of family and leisure time was ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to them.

Greater flexibility to work from home and less emphasis on on-site working was deemed ‘important’ or ‘very important’ by 73 per cent of respondents.

Greater provision of affordable and carbon-neutral housing was deemed ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to 69 per cent of respondents

Looking forward to Christmas, 69 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “The Christmas period will be a good opportunity to support local businesses”.

The impact of a second wave of coronavirus was a worry for well over half of respondents, with 59.14 per cent saying they were ‘very concerned’ about the prospect, and 28.42 saying they were ‘slightly concerned’.

Faith in the government’s recent ‘rule of six’ measure was deemed ‘not effective’ or ‘not at all effective’ in reducing the chances of a second wave by 74 per cent of respondents.

Local life

Refuse collection and recycling services were rated as the highest quality service during the pandemic, with 88 per cent rating them ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

The emergency services were rated as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ during the pandemic by 55 per cent of respondents.

Social care services were deemed one of the lowest quality during the pandemic, with just 20 per cent of respondents rating them ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

More than half – 62.21 per cent – of you believe local hospitals are most in need of increased spending, while 52.69 per cent said social care is in need of increased spending.

More than a third - 32.72 per cent - believe that their community has got stronger since the pandemic began, but the highest number – 45.01 – say it has become neither weaker nor stronger.

Health

A number of respondents - 55.61 per cent - have not needed an appointment with a hospital or specialist since the pandemic began.

However, of the 43.93 per cent who did make an appointment, 38 per cent said they found making an appointment either ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’.

The statement that “Future healthcare funding should focus mostly on increasing the numbers of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers” was agreed with by 82 per cent of respondents, but just 43 per cent said that they would pay more tax to fund health and social care services.

The majority of respondents indicated that they are missing face-to-face contact with a GP, with 78.8 per cent saying they would like to access advice from their GP in person in the coming months.

Most - 60.52 per cent - however, would prefer to access prescriptions online in the coming months.

In terms of mental health, 22.58 per cent say their mental health has been ‘strongly affected’ by the pandemic, while 42.40 per cent say it has been ‘slightly affected’.