In March 2020, a national UK lockdown was implemented in response to rapidly rising COVID-19 infections. Those experiencing the most severe public health restrictions were ‘shielding’ groups as well as those over 70 years of age. Older age adults, many of whom were active, independent, and socially connected were immediately instructed to stay at home, to limit all external social contact and consider contingency for maintaining personal food security and social contact. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the experiences of older adults during the first UK lockdown (March–June 2020), specifically how our sample reacted to public health messaging, staying food secure and drawing on available social capital within their community. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with eight participants. In addition, twenty-five participants completed a qualitative ‘open-ended’ survey. The data was collated and analysed, adopting a Thematic Analysis informed approach. Three themes were identified: (1) Too Much Information, (2) The Importance of Neighbours and Connections and (3) Not Wishing to be a Burden. These findings offer a rich insight into how early lockdown measures, never witnessed since World War 2, exposed existing pre-pandemic inequalities and concerns relating to loneliness, isolation and wellbeing. The findings are of relevance to researchers, older adult advocate groups and policy makers to inform post COVID-recovery within communities to ensure healthy ageing.


© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Cite as

Brown, H. & Reid, K. 2021, 'Navigating infodemics, unlocking social capital and maintaining food security during the COVID-19 first wave in UK: older adults' experiences', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(14), article no: 7220. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18147220

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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