In March 2020 – when the spread of coronavirus gathered pace – we established The Relationships Observatory. Alongside our network of observers, we’re gathering examples and insights about how people are adapting during the crisis.

We are learning from previous disasters and experts in disaster recovery, community development and conflict transformation, to understand the role that strong communities play weathering the bad times and making the most of the good. 

The stories on these pages represent a tiny proportion of that important work. Thank you for all that you are doing.

The Covid timeline

Through the course of our conversations over the past 2.5 years, we’ve identified a broad pattern experienced by many communities: a honeymoon period in which we came together, shopped for shielders and clapped for carers, followed by a long winter of disillusionment and growing distrust. Now many of us are stuck in a holding pattern of ‘shuffle and repeat’ – moments of respite and optimism followed by another wave of grief and anxiety.

Latest report: The Sense of Connection

This is a brittle Britain. Fragile, anxious and uncertain. Past the worst of the pandemic but not over it. Fearing the multiple costs of a hard winter.

There’s much we can learn from previous disasters about repairing and strengthening the social fabric. In this report, we draw on the expertise of the After Disasters Network in the crafts of disaster recovery and conflict transformation, and weave this together with all that we’ve learned from our own network about community development. 

We share some steps that we might take together as we navigate the road ahead and we invite you to join us in understanding how to support strong and connected communities.

Other resources from the Observatory


Turning To the Light

Citizen's Rising

Two years into the pandemic, we share the stories, experiences and priorities of young people – a group which has been systematically overlooked in our response to the pandemic so far

Turning To the Light

Turning to the Light

One year in, we reflect on 365 days of disruption and look forward to a period of recuperation and renewal. We share practical resources for building on the positives and healing divides

The Moment We Noticed

100 days from the start of lockdown, we draw together what we’ve learnt, reflecting on the shifting undercurrents which offer hope that 2020 might be a year of positive change 

Practical tools

Bridge Builder's Handbook

Resilient, connected communities are built from strong connections across divides. This Handbook, created with the After Disasters Network, aims to inspire and equip a nation of Bridge Builders

Kit for Councils

What’s the appropriate statecraft, in style and substance, for enabling and supporting community activity? This kit contains resources to help councils navigate towards the light 

Active Neighbours Guide

9m willing volunteers extended a helping hand during Covid. What are the stories behind the statistics? What’s needed to support them to carry on caring? This guide shares our learning 

Sightings from the Observatory

Our Sightings blog brings together reflections on the impact of the pandemic from our network of contributors. If you have an observation – however small or significant – we’d love to hear it. Please share them with us at hello@relationshipsproject.org

Observatory Sighting 14: Lockdown and deep-tissue damage

Observatory Sighting 14: Lockdown and deep-tissue damage

In this Observatory Sighting, we explore acute, long-term and easily overlooked 'deep-tissue' damage resulting from relationship upheaval during lockdown and enforced separation. As we move towards the Out Turn, we must recognise and repair this damage. We recently...

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Lookout Sighting #1: School, stress and a summer of catch-up

Lookout Sighting #1: School, stress and a summer of catch-up

Over the past 18 months, we’ve been hearing about adults’ experiences of lockdown through The Relationships Observatory. Now, in partnership with Summer of Play, we’re hearing from children and young people about how the past year and a half has been for them, and...

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Frauke – Spirit of Lockdown #7

Frauke – Spirit of Lockdown #7

As part of our open call to Share your Story, we received this #SpiritOfLockdown account from Frauke. Frauke set up and managed a local Whatsapp group in her community which Basil the dog played a big part in, keeping spirits high and helping forge community...

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