These are the things you told us matter in Halifax during the pandemic

People in Calderdale have got involved with the Big Conversation and told the Courier how their lives have changed since the pandemic began and what is most important going forward.

Wednesday, 7th October 2020, 3:06 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th October 2020, 3:10 pm

With more than six months having passed since a national lockdown was levied on March 23, life in the UK has changed beyond recognition.

Employees have moved to working from home en masse, meeting up with over six people is now a crime enshrined in law and face mask wearing is mandatory in much of the public sphere.

All these changes have uprooted and altered many people’s attitudes, priorities and lives, which is why we asked readers across the country about what has changed for you in our Big Conversation survey.

Police presence during Covid-19

The Big Conversation survey was created by JPI Media – publisher of newspapers and websites across the UK.

As winter approaches 58 per cent of people who responded to the survey said they were very concerned about a second wave.

The pandemic has taken its toll on town and city centres. Across Calderdale 79 per cent of people surveyed said they had visited the city centre while 38 per cent said they had visited “a lot less”.

A total of 21 per cent said they had not visited town centres at all since lockdown.

Hairdressers were hit hard by the pandemic since March

Unsurprisingly, visiting family was the factor that most people said was crucial to their quality of life with 77 per cent listing this on the survey.

Eating at cafes and restaurants was listed as important by 68 per cent of people, going to the barber or hairdresser at 52 per cent, and 66 per cent going on holiday.

People differ on what they are comfortable doing. 68 per cent of people said they are either comfortable or very comfortable visiting family, but that number drops dramatically for other activities.

12.5 per cent (an eighth) of people who responded to the survey said they were very comfortable going to pubs.

Queues outside shops due to social distancing have become a regular site across Calderdale

Only 29 per cent of people who answered the survey said they were comfortable eating at cafes and restaurants, and going to the cinema was at a lowly 17 per cent.

It appears there is still a long way to go before people in Calderdale and across the region plan to get back on public transport with 76 per cent saying they are either uncomfortable or very uncomfortable with the idea.

11 per cent of people said they were not comfortable returning to their place of work, while 14 per cent said that they were.

Around 52 per cent of people, the largest proportion, said that they were not sure how comfortable they are about sending their children back to school.

Businesses and banking has been affected with massive financial hits this year, with no time for recovery

But people in this region largely feel they have adapted well to new ways of doing things made that were made necessary by the pandemic. Asked how they had adapted to online services, such as online shopping and video calls, 88 per cent of people said they had “very well” or “fairly well”.

It is clear from the results that loneliness and isolation has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Not having someone to easily turn to for help was listed as a problem by 40 per cent of people.

Not having the right electronic devices was a problem for 20 per cent of people. However, not having a good enough internet connection at home was not a problem for any of people who answered the survey.

More than half of people who responded – 54 per cent – said they were currently in paid work, 38 per cent said they were not working, and two per cent remained on furlough.

A total of 20 per cent of people were “concerned” or “very concerned” about their job security or income from paid work, while 34 per cent were concerned about their personal or household finances.

Nearly 45 percent of people who responded said they had cut down on their spending since the pandemic began and over half said they were using local businesses more.

Three quarters of people said the pandemic has “strongly affected” or “slightly affected” their mental health, while only 12 percent said they were “not at all affected”.

Surveyors were asked about future investment and where it was needed going forward. 62 percent said local hospitals, followed by social care services at 45 percent, emergency services at 43 percent, and support for local businesses at 34 percent.

Asked if the sense of community where they live was stronger or weaker since lockdown, 52 percent said it was neither stronger nor weaker, with two percent of people believing it is stronger, while 16 percent believed it is weaker or much weaker.