The role of communities and the use of technology in mitigating loneliness during the pandemic

This report presents findings from WCPP research on the role of communities and the use of technology in mitigating loneliness during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Tackling loneliness was a priority for Welsh Government and public services before the Coronavirus pandemic and has become a greater concern since. Lockdowns and social distancing policies introduced in response to the pandemic have both increased loneliness and challenged the approaches to tackling it set out in Welsh Government’s loneliness strategy Connected Communities (2020). Lockdowns have also changed our relationship with our local area, enabling the flourishing of community action in places as well as heightening the prominence of digital communication.

As part of a wider programme of work on loneliness, the Wales Centre for Public Policy carried out research with 71 people involved with over 50 informal and small-scale formal community groups to understand the experience of community activity across Wales during the pandemic, focusing on:

  • The effect of community activity on experiences of loneliness;
  • The role that technology played in facilitating group functions and reaching those most at risk of loneliness; and
  • How such community action could be sustained, enabled, and enhanced.

Findings highlight the presence and importance of the wider networks, infrastructures and governance structures underpinning community action and connection. These have been both developed and decimated during the pandemic. Supporting, sustaining, and strengthening these will be key to promoting community connection through the pandemic recovery and beyond.

Recommendations are provided based on ‘what worked well’ for: addressing loneliness in communities; blended approaches to addressing loneliness with technology; collaborating with community groups; and optimising community resources.


We’ve also produced a series of videos which provide an overview of this work

Part 1 looks at key findings on the role of communities in addressing loneliness, highlighting the importance of access to meaningful things to do, and of the infrastructures that facilitate this.

Part 2 looks at key findings on the use of technology in addressing loneliness, emphasising the importance of blended approaches, where digital interactions enhance or enable connection in physical space.

Part 3 looks at key findings on enabling, sustaining and enhancing community action, outlining the critical roles played by governance and funding structures, place-based assets, and collaborative working.