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New research reveals Scots more anxious about leaving lockdown than rest of UK


The Big Lunch is hoping to help communities connect again as lockdown eases

New research has revealed more than half of Scots have some anxiety about socialising without restrictions.

A study conducted for the Big Lunch reveals 58% of Scottish residents saying they are scared, anxious or apprehensive of socialising after social distancing ends. In Scotland, a further 38% say it will be a long time before they will feel comfortable socialising in the same way as they did pre-pandemic. 

These are the findings of a new poll of 4,000 residents from across the UK which show that millions of us are worried about increasing social pressure now that lockdown measures are beginning to lift.

The survey, which was conducted by OnePoll for The Big Lunch, a National Lottery and Iceland Foods supported initiative also reveals:

• 26% of Scottish people are worried about their ability to readjust to normal levels of social interaction again

• Around 66% of people in Scotland are worried about visiting crowded places

• The Scottish nation are divided on physical contact with half (51%) saying they feel confident and comfortable with the idea of hugging once restrictions are lifted and the other half planning to keep their distance

The Big Lunch aims to bring people together to engage with each other and help to build more resilient, better connected communities. This year, The Big Lunch will take place from 5 and 6 June as people share food and have fun as they get to know each other. Last year saw the event go virtual for the first time ever, however as the world slowly starts to return to some type of normality over the coming months, The Big Lunch is encouraging anyone and everyone to get together digitally or, in real life to unite in a nationwide act of community friendship.

Sophie Bridger, country manager (Scotland) for the Eden Project, said: “It's been an incredibly challenging year, and for many of us, the connections we made in our communities have helped us get through it. As we emerge from the toughest of times, we want to support people and communities and as we start to reconnect with the world around us.

“The Big Lunch is a brilliant way to ease yourself back into socialising. By seeing your neighbours for some cake and a natter, you can keep friendship and community spirit going. There’s plenty of different ways to take part - outdoors, online, over the fence or on the doorstep from 5 June right through into July. It’s so important to find ways we can get used to socialising, connecting and making new friends again and The Big Lunch can help people do that where they live by bringing people together to celebrate connections and our amazing communities.

“This year The Big Lunch is spreading out across a whole month of community, kicking off a summer of friendship and fun. From hosting a Big Lunch to thanking volunteers in Volunteers Week, to packing some snacks and hitting the park in National Picnic Week, we are encouraging the nation to join in when it works for them.”

Kathryn Welch was previously operations director at Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling, who held a Big Lunch in 2018 and 2019. She first heard about The Big Lunch when she attended an Eden Project Communities Community Camp,

She said: “The Big Lunch is one of my favourite weekends of the year. It’s a chance to meet new people and to get to know neighbours you’ve only seen in passing. I always find myself having really interesting, different conversations… I’ve also ended up playing hopscotch with a five year old, eaten Caribbean rice and peas, and been taught to play a tune on a piano from an 80 year old neighbour. It can sometimes feel a bit nerve-wracking to organise a Big Lunch, but I’ve always loved it and would absolutely recommend signing up. It’s a great way to feel more at home on your street or in your neighbourhood… and there’s always cake!”

The research conducted in April 2021 suggests high levels of re-entry anxiety and concerns about our ability to socialise as we come out of our third lockdown period.  However, despite 64% of UK respondents worrying about socialising with large groups or in crowded places, one of the positives is that two thirds of the Scottish population are comfortable meeting smaller groups locally for picnics or community BBQs.

Despite a high percentage of the population worried about socialising post lockdown, over 25 million of us in the UK feel relieved at the idea we’ll be able to socialise without restrictions in the coming months and 30 per cent actively excited at the prospect.

TV presenter and comedian Jo Brand, has been a Big Lunch Ambassador for five years. She said: “Whilst I’m chomping at the bit to see family and friends again; I certainly won’t be front of the queue dishing out hugs when my local rave club reopens. Everyone has their own social roadmap to what they will feel comfortable doing. We all need to go at our own pace and that’s just fine. The real positive to come from this research though is that 12 million people are now closer to their neighbours than before the pandemic. So if anyone is feeling anxious about diving back in to the socialising pool, then The Big Lunch is the perfect way to dip a toe back in the metaphorical shallow end. Just fling open the door and wave an egg vol-au-vent over the back fence during a natter with the neighbours. We need to remember how to talk to real-life human beings again, so why not start with the human beings next door?”

The Big Lunch, an idea from the Eden Project, made possible by The National Lottery and Iceland Foods, attracts millions of people across the UK each year. Last year for the first time in its 12-year history, the event was moved online to adhere to Covid lockdown measures. Over four million people took part in The Big ‘Virtual’ Lunch, with events running online, on the phone and on the doorstep.

Find out more and sign up on the Big Lunch website.



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