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1 in 4 people in the East of England drifting apart from friends, new survey shows

19 Feb 1 in 4 people in the East of England drifting apart from friends, new survey shows

People across the East of England are losing touch with their friends as nearly half (38%) of people say they are speaking to friends less than before the coronavirus pandemic hit, a new survey reveals. And 14% of people say they are speaking to their families less than life before COVID-19.

The new figures come as the Cystic Fibrosis Trust urges people to talk for FeBREWary – a campaign encouraging people to spend time with friends, family or work colleagues virtually over a tea or coffee, to raise vital funds for the only UK-wide charity dedicated to fighting for everyone affected by cystic fibrosis.

The East of England’s tea and coffee habits have also been affected by the national lockdowns with more of us taking the time out to have a brew – 28% of people are drinking more tea and 24% drinking more coffee since COVID hit the UK last year.

David Ramsden, chief executive at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said: “People all over the country are finding themselves spending a lot more time than usual at home and not able to see family and friends in the same way. At times like these, having a brew and connecting with the people you care about is so important.

“So why not take part in our new fundraising appeal and set up a tea party with your friends and families. By coming together in this way, you will help raise vital funds for people with cystic fibrosis – a life-limiting genetic condition which requires rigorous daily physiotherapy and sometimes taking up to 40 pills a day.”

The survey shows the East of England is equally divided over its favourite hot drink with 39% preferring tea and 33% coffee. But bringing the nation together is the UK’s favourite biscuit – the Chocolate Digestive. A fifth of people in the East of England (22%) said this is their preferred biscuit to have with their tea or coffee – chocolate fingers were favoured by 1% of those surveyed. Chocolate Digestives were also the clear favourite across all genders, age groups and regions.

Gemma Rawles, 36 from Essex, has cystic fibrosis and joined a FeBREwary video call with friends who also have cystic fibrosis. She said: “FeBREWary has been a chance for me to virtually connect with others who understand how tough the last year has been for people with cystic fibrosis – people who may have felt isolated and who have been shielding on and off since March 2020.”People with cystic fibrosis are part of a wide community which provides support for each other. It’s been so helpful to connect with like-minded people; I’ve felt so isolated due to shielding and the lockdown, so speaking to others with cystic fibrosis has really helped me through the pandemic.”

Celebrity ambassadors Jenny Agutter and Matthew Wright are both backing the FeBREWary campaign. Jenny Agutter, who stars in Call the Midwife and is a Cystic Fibrosis Trust ambassador, held a FeBREWary event with friends from the series. She said: “The Cystic Fibrosis Trust has come up with a wonderful idea to host a virtual tea party to help brighten up those dull February days.

“With many people struggling in lockdown and stuck at home, this is such a lovely chance to catch up with friends and colleagues with a chat over tea and raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. So, stay at home, call a friend and enjoy FeBREWary with a really nice brew!”

Cystic fibrosis causes a build-up of thick sticky mucus which destroys the lungs, digestive system, bones, liver and reproductive system. Funds will help the Cystic Fibrosis Trust invest in life-saving, innovative research, continue supporting people with cystic fibrosis and their families through its website and helpline, and to continue campaigning to help everyone with cystic fibrosis live longer, healthier lives.