Community life – our relationship with the people living in our neighbourhoods – is crucial to our health and wellbeing. Community underlines the link between the built environment and quality of life, and it is intimately connected to the design and infrastructure of the buildings around us.
That is what we discovered in our nationwide ‘Quality of life at home’ study of what people think about where they live, which was undertaken before and during lockdown.
Community was cited as the most important factor in people’s quality of life pre-lockdown, with people reporting that their relationships in the local community became tighter during lockdown.
Our findings also underlined just how important feelings of neighbourliness and local services and amenities are to social, physical and mental wellbeing, all of which have been under increasing pressure during lockdown.
As people have been forced to spend more time at home and in their local communities in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we hope that our research will encourage them to consider how their environments affect their wellbeing and plan any recovery around that.
As we all grapple with how to build back better through and beyond Covid-19, we hope that it serves as a reminder to listen to what local communities value and respond to what they need.
We all know the government’s mantra is to ‘build, build, build’ and have been grappling individually and collectively with the planning white paper, but our research reinforces how crucial our built environment is in securing a better quality of life.
If we base our decisions on what improves people’s wellbeing – and, reciprocally, our relationship with the planet – we will secure a better long-term future for us all.
Sadie Morgan is chair of the Quality of Life Foundation