How COVID-19 impacted Kingston upon Thames

Residents' feedback has now been collated following a survey looking at the impact of the pandemic on local people.

Kingston Council undertook a survey of residents from 3 August until 20 September to get a clearer picture of how the last few months have affected residents, what support is needed and general feelings about the future in Kingston. Almost 900 residents from across the borough responded and the insight will be used to help the council and its partners to direct support where it is needed most and enable the borough to recover and thrive.     

Questions ranged from the health and wellbeing, to the economic and social impact of COVID-19. Key findings from the survey, showed that:

  • Over 27% of Kingston residents report that they have been negatively affected by the pandemic.
  • Nearly 55% of survey respondents said they supported their community and neighbours during COVID-19. Of those nearly 65% say they will continue to do so.
  • Nearly twice as many respondents are feeling negative about the future compared to those who are feeling positive.
  • Nearly three-quarters of residents are concerned about using public transport, getting ill from COVID-19 or accessing healthcare.
  • 40% of residents who are employed either full and part time intend to continue working from home in the long term.

Cllr Tim Cobbett, Portfolio Holder for Communities and Engagement and Deputy Leader of Kingston Council, said:

"Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to fill in the survey. We’ve all felt the impact of COVID-19. Kingston Council, along with partners, community and voluntary groups across Kingston, are working hard to provide support for residents and businesses.

“During this incredibly challenging time, it has been encouraging to see the way in which communities came together to help each other. In Kingston we saw a tremendous response from many local organisations who worked quickly to respond to the needs of vulnerable residents. This work was supported and coordinated by the council as part of the Kingston Stronger Together Hub, which assessed the needs of affected residents and ensured they were able to quickly access the support, information and advice they needed. 

“The people of Kingston also proved how supportive they are within their own communities. We heard many examples of elderly or vulnerable people being offered every kind of support by their neighbours; people coming together to make sure those most at risk had everything they needed at a time of uncertainty.

“However, other findings are quite worrying. Nearly 73% of respondents are concerned about using public transport; many are concerned about access to healthcare services and being able to stay physically fit and healthy. Half of the respondents are also worried about employment opportunities and  personal finances. Through our recovery work, we will look at how we can help to get those who have been most affected back on their feet and will offer all the support we can.”

Most of our survey respondents had not personally suffered serious ill health because of COVID-19. Just under 5% had suffered from COVID-19 themselves, 8.9% had a relative who had suffered ill health due to COVID-19 and just over 11% knew a friend who had suffered ill health as a result of COVID-19.

COVID-19 has affected the economy and jobs across the UK. Over 27% of Kingston residents report that they have been financially negatively affected by the pandemic. Some own businesses or are self-employed and have seen a reduction in income, while others cite more expensive food bills having the children at home has meant that they spent more on food bills. 

Cllr Cobbett added:

“Over the past few months we have worked really hard to help support residents throughout the pandemic. I am pleased that so many residents told us that we have responded well.

“Whilst COVID-19 has not gone away and we must continue to follow guidelines to keep everyone safe, it is also important that we move forward. The findings for the survey will be shared across council teams to inform planning and take on learnings for service improvement. We will also share with our partners and community groups to ensure that we are collectively using this valuable insight to support our residents and communities to make Kingston better together. 

“We will have a pop-up Keep Kingston Safe stall in Kingston Town Centre to share key public health information and advice. Free face coverings and hand sanitiser will be available to help people keep themselves and others safe, along with tips about how to stay healthy and active.

“Conversations with our residents and stakeholders will continue and over the next few weeks the council will be holding a number of focus groups with residents to delve deeper into these findings including one with young people to ensure that we have captured their experience as well. Residents can also continue to use the Let’s Talk portal to post stories and pictures about their own experience of COVID-19.”

See the full report.