Coronavirus (COVID-19): impact on communities and priorities for recovery - research

Evidence from consultation based research about changes to organisations’ work during the pandemic and the impact of the pandemic on a range of themes including economic security, social interactions and loneliness, community cohesion, safety, trust in government, and skills, learning and development.

This document is part of a collection


The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on Scotland's society and economy, through the virus itself and the secondary effects of the lockdown measures introduced in March 2020. These measures resulted in an extended period of time when most schools and businesses were closed, large proportions of those in employment were furloughed or changed to working from home, and there were emergency changes to the design and delivery of public services including social care and voluntary sector support. There was also unprecedented disruption to community, recreational, cultural and religious gatherings and activities.

Through this period, the Scottish Government has conducted weekly polling surveys to understand the extent to which the guidance and restrictions have been followed, and the impacts of this situation on people and communities. These surveys have shown high levels of compliance with the restrictions on behaviour and trust in the Scottish Government, but also high levels of anxiety and worry about the virus.[1]

A more detailed survey has also been conducted to provide insight into the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people's wellbeing, and breakdowns for key groups in society.[2] While many people in Scotland appear to have maintained their household incomes and report relatively stable levels of health, wellbeing and feelings of safety, some groups within the population have experienced more negative impacts, particularly younger people, disabled people, and those who live in more deprived areas. There is also evidence of a particular and disproportionate negative impact on the people who already had lower levels of wellbeing before the coronavirus pandemic.

While these quantitative surveys provide an understanding of impacts at a national level, methodological limitations mean that they present only a partial picture of the impact of the pandemic, and cannot provide detailed information about the wellbeing of different groups and places within the population.

The research presented in this report was conducted to provide further insight into the issues raised in the surveys. It involved an open-response consultation distributed to organisations who work wholly or partly at the community-level in Scotland. As discussed in the Coronavirus Covid-19: Framework for decision making,[3] societal impacts "may be more hidden, less tangible, more subjective, and less quantifiable than other harms" and they may persist longer into the future. This research method was designed to gain more of an insight into different contexts and experience than quantitative survey research typically allows.

The findings are presented in three sections:

1. How have the work and activities of respondent organisations changed during the pandemic?

2. What has been the impact of the virus and control measures on the people and communities these organisations work with?

3. What are organisations' concerns and priorities for the future?



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