UK-based think tank Demos, which studied the social behaviours of 1,000 adults in the last year, found that 37 per cent of people have not been hugged in the last six months, while 25 per cent have not been hugged for a year.
Six in 10 people have not made a new friend in six months, while 44 per cent of those surveyed have not made a new friend in over a year.
There has also been an effect on both brief day-to-day interactions as well as meaningful conversation. One-third of respondents have not talked to someone about a problem that they have, while 13 per cent of people have not been asked how their day was or talked to their neighbours in six months
Demos said the findings “reflect the disrepair in our social fabric, where too many are missing out on regular, basic social interactions” as we ease out of the pandemic.
The lack of social interaction over the past year has also led to a growth in loneliness across the UK.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, released in April, reported that 7.2 per cent of UK adults felt lonely “often” or “always” between October 2020 and February 2021, an increase of 1.1 million people since data was last collected in May 2020.
The ONS also found that areas with higher concentrations of young people, aged between 16 and 24, had higher rates of loneliness.
“Throughout the pandemic, particularly during the first lockdown, we saw communities come together and relationships strengthened at a time of crisis, on a scale we haven’t seen in generations – from providing food for those isolating to the new volunteers making a huge difference in the NHS,” Polly Mackenzie, chief executive at Demos said.
“Our new research worryingly shows that these gains we’ve made in community relationships earlier in the pandemic are in danger of being lost,” she added.