Covid Scotland: One in four adults have not been hugged in more than a year

One in four adults have not been hugged for more than a year, according to research that suggests people are less likely to build new relationships than they were during the first coronavirus lockdown.

A third (32 per cent) of adults feel there are fewer opportunities to make new connections now than there were when the nation first locked down, think-tank Demos found.

Its polling of 1,000 UK adults in May found 23 per cent said they believed there are more opportunities, as society opens up from Covid-19 restrictions.

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Lisa Wadey hugs her mum Angela and Angela's dog Alfie for the first time since lockdown restrictions were relaxed. Picture: Stuart Martin

Demos warns there is a “huge risk” the community spirit prompted by the crisis, which saw volunteers, friends and family provide food and support to vulnerable members, will be lost.

The cross-party think tank found that almost two thirds (64 per cent) of respondents said they had not made a new friend for six months, and 44 per cent have not done so in more than a year.

More than a third (37 per cent) reported they have not been hugged for at least half a year, while 25 per cent said they have not shared a hug for a year or more.

And 13 per cent said they have not been asked how their day was, or talked to their neighbours, in the past six months or more.

The research, sponsored by Capita, found the majority of British people want to get to know the people who provide local services (71 per cent) and the community members who use them (64 per cent).

Its report, The Social State, is calling for public services to be delivered in a way that makes it easier for people to form new relationships.

Polly Mackenzie, chief executive at Demos, said the pandemic showed strong community ties were “vital to our resilience and strength as a society”.

She said: “Our new research out today worryingly shows that these gains we’ve made in community relationships earlier in the pandemic are in danger of being lost.

“If we’re to build back stronger from the pandemic, we need to reimagine our public services for the 21st century as a way of strengthening our communities, relationships and social capital.”

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