You have been heard: Hundreds answer Covid questions as part of Post's Big Conversation

You have been heard. Hundreds of Lancashire Post readers took part in our recent Big Conversation poll and had their say on the pandemic, its effects, plus their hopes – and fears – for the future.

Monday, 5th October 2020, 9:16 am
Updated Monday, 5th October 2020, 9:20 am

You have been heard. Hundreds of Lancashire Post readers took part in our recent Big Conversation poll and had their say on the pandemic, its effects, plus their hopes – and fears – for the future.

Today, and over the coming weeks, the findings will be examined and analysed inside these pages to give an insight into the way Prestonians are coping with this once-in-a-lifetime crisis, which has now claimed more than one million lives around the world – and more than 250 here.

The answers will also be put to those in positions of power, who have the ability to allay fears and act on concerns, as well as having the responsibility of serving their communities.

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Picture: Neil Cross for JPIMedia

And you will be invited to have your say too.

Editor Gillian Parkinson said: “We wanted to find out how readers have coped with the last six months, what positive experiences they have had, and how they feel we can use that learning to shape our towns and cities in future.

“We want to support our communities to recover as we move out of the pandemic, and to ensure ordinary people have a say in what the future will look like.”

The results revealed that:

* Forty per cent of people have shunned the city centre, visiting a “lot less”, while a quarter have not been at all since lockdown;

* Many want to support local businesses and will use Christmas to do that;

* The majority say “visiting family” is important to their quality of life, followed by eating out, going on holiday or to the park, and heading to shops and the library;

* People don’t feel comfortable catching public transport, despite face coverings being compulsory;

* Only a fraction have failed to adapt to life – such as work and school – online, with 45 per cent saying they have adapted “very well” and 39 per cent “fairly well”,;

* More people are concerned about their household finances than not, while one in three fear for their job, with half cutting back on their spending;

* The majority of people think local hospitals, businesses, social care services, and emergency services should be given more funding;

* Almost half haven’t noticed a difference in the sense of community since the pandemic started, though 40 per cent say they think it’s grown stronger;

* Forty per cent say their mental health has been “slightly affected” while a third said their wellbeing has been “strongly affected”;

* Fifty-five per cent fear for the future and are concerned about the impact of the second wave; and

* Most aren’t sure whether they’re comfortable sending their children into school – with 35 per cent either “very comfortable” or “comfortable” and 21 per cent “not comfortable” or “not at all comfortable”.

Many of the findings were reflected UK-wide, with 11,000 readers of the Post’s army of sister titles answering the same questions.

Jackie Walmsley, 69, from Longridge, is classed as vulnerable after having three strokes.

She believes the sense of community has grown weaker recently – after peaking during the first wave.

She said: “It was totally different at the beginning. Everyone was helping each other out. Since then it has all stopped because of the restrictions meaning I can’t see friends or loved ones.”

Lynne Eastham, from Fulwood, said: “Seeing my family has been the main activity that has been important to me. It has been a nightmare not being able to see all my loved ones.”

Peter Watson, 41, from Burscough, added: “It’s been tough not being able to do our normal activities. It’s little things we used to do like not socialising so much with our family.

“Where I live there is a great sense of community. Lots of people have started helping out, especially with my mother.”

Council leader Coun Matthew Brown said: “This pandemic has had a monumental impact on everyone. I have been inspired by the resilience of our communities and the selflessness of many people who have come together to support the most vulnerable in our society.

“The responses to this survey show how worried people are about the continued rise in cases across the region. I share this concern and its vital now more than ever that we work together, follow the rules and self-isolate when required to stop the virus spreading further.

“Looking forward it is vital that support is made available to people who have lost their livelihoods due to the virus and to help tackle the severe impact this will have on the mental wellbeing of our communities.

“We have consistently lobbied for such support from central government to help achieve this.”