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Newsworks research: Brits want to put differences aside to reunite nation

Eight out of 10 people want to put their differences aside and come together as a nation, a new study from Newsworks reveals.

Newsworks research: Brits want to put differences aside to reunite nation
Denise Turner: “Our research shows us that it is now more important than ever to listen to each other and embrace our differences.” Photograph: James Giddins on Unsplash.

Against a backdrop of Brexit and the pandemic, 74% of those surveyed admitted that in recent years they had lost the important art of listening as the country has become more polarised across several different fault lines.

However, an in-depth research study by Newsworks shows that 75% of people are now making a concerted effort to try and understand different perspectives.

Two-thirds of respondents said they use a variety of news sources to help them make a more informed and rounded view and 61% said news brands help to promote important campaigns, such as Marcus Rashford’s free school meals initiative.

Denise Turner, insight director at Newsworks, said: “After a tumultuous couple of years, our research shows us that it is now more important than ever to listen to each other and embrace our differences. Afterall, a greater understanding of different opinions makes for a well-oiled democracy, which can only be a good thing. News brands play such a vital role in encouraging and facilitating this which is recognised in this study and tallies with the strong growth in readership and the increasing value people place in trusted journalism.”

The research, carried out just after the Brexit result right up to an including the pandemic, revealed that two-thirds of Brits are now cautiously optimistic about the future as the vaccine rollout continues at pace and the prospect of seeing friends and family again becomes a reality.

The ‘Come Together’ study also shows that we have a greater sense of identity and feel positive about being British. When asked about what symbolises Britishness, respondents put the NHS in the number one spot ahead of the Queen and the wider Royal Family. Freedom, democracy and “going to the pub” also featured in the top 10.

However, says Newsworks, there is also a contradiction in this, with more people now associating and identifying themselves as being Scottish, Welsh, Irish or English, rather than being from the United Kingdom or Great Britain – up from 5% in 2017 to 26% at the end of 2020.

Newsworks’ state-of-the-nation research by Tapestry and Flamingo questioned 3,000 people over three waves – February 2017, February 2020 and December 2020 – as well as talking to hundreds of people on the streets of Aberystwyth, Thurrock, Southampton, Scunthorpe and Dundee – to gain an in-depth insight into societal shifts over the past few years.

Full findings are available at: newsworks.org.uk/cometogether

In the survey, this was the response to the question, What Does Britishness Mean to you?

  1. NHS (57%)
  2. The Queen (51%)
  3. The Royal Family (49%)
  4. The Union Jack (48%)
  5. Big Ben (38%)
  6. The BBC (35%)
  7. Democracy (34%)
  8. The Houses of Parliament (34%)
  9. Freedom (33%)
  10. Going to the pub (33%)

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