Isolation Compounded in Estranged Relationships with Family in Lockdown
A study done by researchers at
the University of Cambridge, Edge Hill University and the UK-based charity
Stand Alone, among 800 people revealed that that they felt more isolated than
they had before lockdown. It was found that majority had the same level of
non-contact with estranged family members during lockdown while 6% experienced
even less contact. One respondent said they hadn’t spoken to another person for
over two months.
“There’s a lot of stigma around estrangement, and people in this situation have experienced it in a heightened way during lockdown. Many have become more aware that they have smaller support networks than others,” said Dr Susan Imrie at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Family Research, who was involved in the study.
The researchers say the importance of family relationships has been highlighted repeatedly throughout lockdown in television advertising, news headlines and social media. But for those who were already estranged from family, the pandemic and the messages surrounding it have compounded feelings of stigma and social isolation.
“Since lockdown began there has been a lot of talk about what family members should be doing to support each other at this time of crisis. We’ve all been encouraged to keep in touch with relatives through Skype and FaceTime. But this has really compounded feelings of isolation for those who don’t have close family relationships,” said Dr Sarah Foley at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Family Research, who was also involved in the study.It is estimated that over five million people in the UK are estranged from a family member, but despite being so common it is not something that is widely known about or discussed.