While lots of people have been enjoying making home improvements and spending time baking and reading at home, during the pandemic, social distancing measures have exacerbated health and social issues linked to housing and living conditions for many.
The impact of the pandemic has led to widespread job losses. With little opportunity to gain new employment, those currently renting might struggle to keep up rental payments. Although UK governments have made attempts to reduce the risk of eviction, renters encountering financial difficulties are still likely to feel their situation is precarious. Research by Shelter estimates the number of private tenants in arrears in England has doubled since March.
The first wave of lockdown measures, by which people were mandated to spend most of their time at home, were established across the UK from 23rd March and eased from around 10th May. This has been followed by a series of local lockdowns and tiered systems in the four UK countries, with varying levels of restrictions. Research from Kings College London suggests the public is broadly supportive of continuing the trend for local lockdowns.
However, these lockdowns are not experienced uniformly across society. Many people living in crowded households face challenges with physical distancing and suffered disproportionately because of cramped conditions.
People living in prison settings are highly vulnerable to infection, being in close contact with others, often in overcrowded and poorly ventilated conditions, with poorer access to healthcare. Suspension of prison visits and some recreational activities are also likely to impact prisoners mental health.
Other people living in communal settings, including some refugees, asylum seekers and rough sleepers (housed in temporary accommodation, including hotels) and those living in care homes are also disproportionately impacted. The communal living arrangements are likely to increase the risk of virus transmission and measures to limit this are likely to increase isolation, and in turn, negatively impact mental health.
There is hope that care home residents are the first in line to receive vaccination against COVID-19.