Life

Radio review: Damaging toll of Covid misinformation

Nuala McCann

Woman's Hour Radio 4

A Home of Our Own Radio 4

Anna suspects there are thousands of people out there just like her.

Anna is not her real name but she wanted to talk publicly about the fall-out of the pandemic and how it has taken its toll on her marriage.

She couldn't have predicted that her husband of 15 years would become a conspiracy theorist but he did, she said.

There had been signs that he was getting immersed in the online world before the pandemic struck but within a few weeks of it hitting these shores, he was starting to believe the theories and as the pandemic progressed so did his fear, anxiety and even more bizarre thinking.

“He would constantly say: “Why can't you see it? Open your eyes!”

“He was immersed to his core,” she said and anyone who did not believe him was either “stupid or part of the conspiracy”.

The couple formally separated after Christmas but he still has a role with their children and has been in touch with their school to say he would not give consent for them to be tested.

Anna believes thousands of people are in her position.

“I see it as a form of addiction,” she said.

“Misinformation is going to be one of our biggest problems moving forward - he no longer trusts anybody. It actually breaks down all sections of society. That's terrifying.”

YouTube told Woman's Hour that they have removed more than a million videos in relation to misleading Covid medical information.

Pandemic aside, housing is - as ever - an issue. A Home of our Own talked to people across the UK.

Phil Salter is 79 and lives in an old fishermen's cottage in St Mawes Cornwall.

He likes nothing more than sitting out on the front wall of a warm evening sipping a gin and tonic and watching the world go by. He is just 20 yards from the sea.

Years ago, his dream home was on the market for £135,000 – he gave the owner his old home in St Mawes and another £55,000 and the deal was done.

Today that same home would go on the market at £1m and who knows what he would get?

Phil's okay. But in Cornwall, more and more houses are second homes or holiday rentals and local youngsters can't afford to get on the property ladder. Local homes are out of reach to any working family.

It was a happy story from Belfast where we met an excited Katrina who has her first home at Black's Gate Crescent.

She still asks herself: “Is this my house.. do I really own my house?”

Her joy was infectious. Black's Gate is a mixed estate of privately owned and socially rented homes run by Radius Housing.

It used to be the Visteon car parts factory … a brown field site that came with not a few issues. It took years to sort.

Anita Conway from Radius said there were plenty of challenges along the way.

“I'm 5ft 3 and the reports are taller than me,” said Anita.

But the point is that they got there and Katrina sounded even happier than Phil in his £1m Cornish fishing cottage.

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