Public health report reveals how Covid-19 pandemic has affected Barnsley over the last year

An annual report from Barnsley’s director of public health has laid out how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the borough’s mental and physical health, by capturing “snapshots” of resident’s days.
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Looking back on a tumultuous year, Julia Burrows explains the ways in which the pandemic has impacted the health of the borough’s population.

More than 300 residents filled in a diary on November 3 2020, to provide a “snapshot” of how life had changed, eight months on from the first lockdown.

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Some residents wrote about how their alcohol consumption has increased during the pandemic, reflecting a national trend.

Barnsley in lockdownBarnsley in lockdown
Barnsley in lockdown

Some reported their drinking had spiralled “out of control”, and others said they were drinking more during the week.

The report also notes that the impact of gym closures was “significant”, adding: “There’s a risk of becoming less active as we spend more time at home.

“It’s important to stay active, sit less and move more for yourphysical and mental health and wellbeing.”

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Children and young people reported a negative impact of the pandemic on their mental health – 71 percent felt bored or frustrated, and 51 per cent reported feeling “sad, negative or low”.


And adults didn’t escape the effects of the pandemic on their mental health either – one respondent said they felt “pure exhaustion from worry,” and another wrote that they felt “very low and isolated”, and that they felt “judged” for leaving the house.

However, despite the anxiety that Covid caused, the report also reveals that Barnsley folk found positives during lockdowns- locals say they found more time to enjoy the outdoors, cook, read, and even “re-evaulate their life”.

Community spirit and volunteers were also praised, especially the 1,251 people who volunteered to help vulnerable people in their area throguh the council’s community responder scheme.

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Ms Burrows wrote: ” The response has been fantastic, and it’s one example of how residents’ Barnsley spirit has been shining bright in light of the very difficult challenges that the borough has faced.

“Unpaid volunteers are sometimes the ones that hold a community together.”

Summing up the last year, Ms Burrows said that she was struck by the “importance of relationships – the everyday business of living together and supporting each other through the crisis has strengthened many relationships, but of course we have seen the tragedy when those relationships are torn apart or when people don’t have any close relationships in their lives and the loneliness that may bring.

“We are having to accept that we will be living with COVID-19 for much longer than we ever imagined.

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“It will be part of our lives – but I hope it will become something we are increasingly able to manage and to live well with, as we move on from the all-encompassing feeling it gives us now.

“Picking up on the theme of Barnsley’s legendary community spirit shown in the diaries, there is a strong sense of hope we will continue to look after each other, support each other by continuing to do what we need to do to keep the virus at bay and keep being kind to each other.”


In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.