Mental wellbeing, working from home, shopping habits, beauty regimes and much more – free video research from Vox Pops International
We took to the streets when lockdown started to ease, to film our first vox pop street interviews since the UK went into lockdown. To ensure safe filming, our Cameraman and Producer used a 2 metre boom pole for the mic and strategically-placed tape to ensure they were never closer than 2 metres from interviewees. They were also equipped with masks, gloves, antibacterial spray and a whole lot of mindful shooting practice. But we wondered, would anyone stop to talk?
Luckily, they did. Our subject covered topics on how the pandemic and lockdown has changed the daily lives and habits of the nation. It took the Vox Pops International crew twice as long to obtain the usual number of interviews – this was due to a couple of factors which affected the footfall. The main being that at the time of filming, the lockdown had not eased considerably meaning that non-essential shops were still closed and the vast majority of the population were still working from home or furloughed. The second being that the weather was pretty grim, and this likely reduced the number of people who were outside with some time to spare. In all, there were considerably fewer people on the streets, yet there were still enough. Looking to the future we believe that vox pop street interview shoots will only become easier as the lockdown eases and the virus hopefully continues to decline. For more information about vox pops, read What is a Vox Pop?
We covered the following areas in our interviews. Scroll down to see short written summaries on the topics. You can see our 1 -2 minute video edits of the response to each topic.
- Lockdown difficulties
- Mental health
- Positive outcomes of lockdown
- Lockdown activity
- Lockdown easing
- Public transport
- Driving habits
- Shopping habits
- Use of beauty products
- Health and beauty habits
- Sustainable products
- Brand action awareness
- Eating and drinking out
- Working practices
Social isolation from family and friends was mentioned as the hardest part of lockdown by pretty much everyone, despite their living circumstances. Young adults seemed to go into more depth about this being a problem while more mature adults with an established family unit or marriage seemed to fare better but nevertheless saw it as the hardest part. Others mentioned that the claustrophobia with a partner or family caused difficulties. Other difficulties reported included;
- the element of uncertainty that came with the lockdown
- managing young children and home-schooling while working from home full-time
- coping with university lectures and study from home.
Following on from the above, the isolation was commonly mentioned as being the cause of a change in mental health for respondents. We had a huge response to this question with some people expressing a larger shift in their mental health than others. Young adults generally reported negative effects on their mental health more than more mature adults, some saying they struggled with having extended time with their “own thoughts”. Multiple young adult respondents talked about turning to creative outlets to help their mental state. Other adults spoke about finding a balance of spending time outside, indoors, exercising and connecting with family to help their mental wellbeing. Many interviewees spoke about taking up exercise for the first time in a long time.
Some respondents also talked about being disconnected from public and communal spaces (pubs, gyms, shops) as being hard – signifying that the loss of social connection simply by spending time around people made for a difficult and more lonely experience
People who didn’t feel their mental health had been greatly affected were generally worried for the rest of the community who may have struggled.
Positive outcomes of lockdown
Although lockdown came with its difficulties, it’s clear that the extra time that people had on their hands gave way to positive outcomes too. A huge portion of interviewees said they had been exercising more due to extra spare time and limitation of their usual social activities. Meanwhile, a few other respondents spoke about the lockdown creating space of reflection and realising the value of many aspects of their lives that they otherwise wouldn’t think about, and even worrying less about trivial things. For some families, it was a great time for connecting and spending quality time with one another that is usually lost to work commitments and the usual busyness of everyday life. Many people said that they’d appreciated having more time for their hobbies and passions.
Following on from the topic above, this question gave space for respondents to go into a bit more detail about the specific positive outcomes in terms of activities and hobbies that were induced by the lockdown. Unsurprisingly, a huge number of people talked in detail about the incorporation of more exercise into their lives. running, cycling, walking, yoga, home workouts etc. all made the list. To add to this, many people spoke about eating more healthy too, and it was hinted at by a few that this was due to having more time to prepare healthy meals. As mentioned in an earlier summary, many of the young adults we spoke to talked about getting on with creative pursuits, be that painting and drawing or songwriting and playing instruments. A few women mentioned that doing less shopping had been a positive outcome, too.
Most people were fairly happy with the lockdown easing rules which were in place at the time of asking, though many voiced concerns around non-compliance. Although many of the respondents were happy to be spending more time outdoors in town, they expressed a cautious attitude towards others members of the public who might not take notice of the proximity or 2 metre distance restrictions. There were multiple concerns about general non-compliance with the lockdown rules and fears for a second wave. While some felt uneasy about the eventual reopening of pubs and restaurants, others were keen to see towns and cities reopen with restrictions in place.
This topic garnered a large variety of contrasting standpoints. Some people were comfortable with taking buses and Overground trains, though wouldn’t feel the same regarding the London Underground. Some people were avoiding public transport as although they weren’t worried for themselves, they didn’t want to risk it while living with a vulnerable person. The people who had or were regularly taking buses or Overground trains reported that they generally felt comfortable doing so since they weren’t busy. Almost everyone said they wouldn’t want to take public transport if it went back to the pre-lockdown capacity, though some mentioned that the compulsory mask measure would make the prospect of busier travel more bearable.
Some people foresaw they would be working from home more in the future, so there was less of a need for commuting in general. Others imagined that their driving habits would resume as normal soon. For people who worked in London, they didn’t think that driving into the city for work would become an option now. Some talked about alternatives, such as cycling more. One young adult said that the lack of driving her mother had done during lockdown could have a detrimental effect on her mother’s driving confidence. In general, most people found it easier to comment on their driving habits during lockdown – which was that they were driving much less but for those who drove it was their main mode of transport for food shops etc. A particularly interesting insight from one woman was that the congestion charge would deter people from driving to central London and the possibility of a 7-day congestion charge would only serve to deter people more.
Interviewees revealed they’d been buying cleaning products more. Meanwhile, the majority of people said they had been doing larger food shops to last longer, rather than doing small shops regularly. An interesting insight from a new father was that he had struggled with online shopping particularly for feeding products for his infant – and that when things were sold out the replacement items were less than ideal. Curiously, many of the respondents felt they didn’t shop much online anyway however a few had done so for certain items while others referenced using apps, such as Depop (second-hand clothes selling app).
Use of beauty products
The overwhelming majority of women said they’d been wearing makeup less during lockdown because of not needing to leave the house. Some women saw wearing less makeup as a positive change and felt it was better for their skin, and other women thought that washing their hair less had helped their hair to become more healthy too. One young woman said that after a few days of lockdown and not wearing makeup, she started to wear it every day again as it helped her to feel good. A fair few people admitted to washing their hair less and others wearing perfume less. One man admitted to wearing clothes a bit longer before washing them again and another said that since he’d been shaving less he had hardly used aftershave.
Health and beauty habits
Many young female adults reported giving more attention to their exercise, eating and skincare. While makeup was left mainly untouched by our respondents, skincare definitely became more important. Some young adults talked about investing in new skincare products. One young woman discovered the versatile benefits of cocoa butter during the lockdown, another the use of toner and another purchased skincare products from The Ordinary. These young women hoped to keep up with good skincare and exercise routines after lockdown. Another woman predicted that having not worn makeup during lockdown, she’d wear less after lockdown. However, she thought this may change when the winter comes and her tan fades, as her face will require more makeup for colour and glow.
Many people said they felt that it was clear that in general, the population was prioritising hygiene products over sustainable ones – a particularly insightful respondent explained that she felt this was because fear is a strong emotion and is currently overriding people’s efforts to buy sustainable products. Another respondent said she noticed that supermarkets were using more plastic wrapping, for example on vegetables which could be a result of public anxiety. Some of these respondents expressed hope that once the general anxiety and the status of the outbreak improves, people would go back to giving more thought and effort into buying sustainable products. There was general concern that the throw-away face masks would present an environmental issue.
Brand action awareness
Some respondents were aware of coffee shops and food places offering discounts to NHS workers, meanwhile, another respondent pointed out that BrewDog had produced and donated hand sanitizer in an open effort to help. Many respondents were aware that companies, in general, were making efforts to help the Covid-19 situation, though people struggled to name or remember a specific brand or action.
Eating and drinking out
People were keen to eat and drink out with friends again. However, they all expressed doing so by exercising personal care and responsibility and many signified that they wouldn’t go to a particularly busy pub or eatery. But, if social distancing measures were appropriately in place they would be happy to. There was some disparity between when people would feel comfortable doing this – some would go now if proper social distancing measures were in place, others would only consider it in one of three month’s time.
Many of the respondents were working from home all the time or most of the time with very occasional need to travel for work. Some respondents already worked from home pre-lockdown. One young man said that it was impossible to find work now – with only one job in his field available in his area and many applicants. Some people commented that while the working world was shifting to practising working from home more anyway, the lockdown has catalysed this shift which many think will be here to stay in a big way. Others commented on difficulties such as adapting to video calls for meetings which is doable but can be a difficult and impersonal experience compared to face to face contact.
The thought of recession was concerning for all participants who acknowledged that the pandemic and lockdown will have affected all businesses and sectors in some way. More mature respondents had concerns for younger generations. Young adults starting university were worried they wouldn’t be able to find hospitality jobs to support themselves through post-school studies. There was a sense of a shared and communal concern around the effects of the recession more widely on society, signifying a general worry about implications of the recession on the wellbeing and lives of others. Even though some businesses are opening up, there was a general acknowledgement that the uncertainty meant that going “back to normal” isn’t going to happen for a while which will take a toll on some industries for a prolonged period.
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