Community spirit is in decline again, after reaching new highs during lockdown, according to research. A poll of 2,000 adults found 30 percent are having fewer interactions with neighbours than they did during the pandemic.
And 58 percent have reverted to their old ways – going days or weeks without speaking to those who live nearby.
As a result, 47 percent think the community spirit in their neighbourhood needs a boost – as just seven percent feel “very connected” to their local population.
The study was commissioned by Crock-Pot, the makers of the 6.5L Sizzle and Stew slow cooker, which has teamed up with Lydia Bright to launch the “Kind Communities Challenge”.
The campaign aims to revive local spirit and reduce loneliness, by inspiring neighbourhoods to unite through the “power of food”.
Lydia said: “Shared meals with family and friends is something I cherish. Growing up in a big and welcoming family, meals with friends and neighbours were an integral part of my childhood.
“Food is not just for survival, it unites cultures and fosters understanding among people from all walks of life, bringing them together to enjoy something wonderful.
“It provides a time to sit down, take a break from the stresses of busy life, and catch up over a delicious home-cooked meal – in my eyes, there’s no better way to bring people together.”
The study also found, for 61 percent, the knowledge that someone cares enough to cook for them makes them feel special or loved – and 41 percent said sitting around a table and eating with others helps them feel less alone.
Nearly half (47 percent) also admitted cooking for others plays an essential part in building and nurturing relationships within their community.
Ruth Cooper-Dickson, positive psychology practitioner, said: “Meaningful human connection through food is a fundamental source of happiness and wellbeing.
“Cooking brings us together, fosters acts of kindness, and strengthens our bonds with loved ones and neighbours.”
The study, carried out via OnePoll, also found that while 26 percent of those polled rarely cook for people in their communities, 18 percent do so weekly, or even daily.
Of those, 56 percent usually do so for friends, 53 percent for extended family, and 22 percent for their neighbours.
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However, 18 percent believe this has decreased in the last 12 months, as 38 percent cite troubles with affording it.
Mark Taylor, from Crock-Pot, which has donated multicookers to FoodCycle centres in the UK, said: “We pride ourselves on providing the opportunity to unite people through food – bringing friends, neighbours, families, and communities together.
“When cooking for others, food has the power to connect people, forming vibrant, thriving networks of love and support.
“Whether it’s whipping up a whole casserole, or simply baking a cake with the kids to share with people around you, every little helps.
“And the benefits also go both ways – for all the joy people feel when someone cooks for them, it’s just as rewarding to be the one doing the cooking.”
For the chance to win kitchen items and £1,000 to spend on groceries, post an image or video of a home-cooked dish you’ve made for someone in your community on Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook, using the hashtag #KindCommunties, and tagging @crockpotuk, before 5pm, on October 30.
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