250,000-plus people join hobby groups on Facebook during coronavirus outbreak

250,000-plus people join hobby groups on Facebook during coronavirus outbreak
Over quarter of a million people in Ireland have joined hobby groups on Facebook since the outbreak of Covid-19 (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Over a quarter of a million people in Ireland have joined hobby groups on Facebook since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, figures show.

This is in addition to the more than 120,000 people in Ireland who also joined fitness and wellbeing groups to keep active during the health crisis.

Data shows that as people tried to avoid boredom during lockdown, they took up new hobbies and activities at home such as gardening, arts and crafts, music, crochet and cooking.

Since the initial restrictions introduced by the Government in March, over a quarter of a million enthusiasts joined hobby and interest groups on Facebook.

These include online communities such as Beekeepers of Ireland and Wild Camping Ireland, bringing membership of these types of groups to more than 650,000, showing how important community is to so many people.

Irish Gardening, a Facebook Group founded by Kevin Begley, initially had 4,000 members and soared to almost 30,000 gardening aficionados when Covid-19 hit.

Mr Begley said: “The Irish Gardening Group had a large increase in membership during lockdown.

“Many people who had never gardened before, took up this satisfying hobby.

“From pots on the windowsill to taming unruly fields of grass, there was a great upsurge of people wanting to garden.

“We were delighted with the new members as Irish Gardening caters for everyone; from people with just a daisy in an eggcup to people who are head gardeners of big estates.”

People also started to create new daily routines to keep active at home.

From virtual yoga and fitness classes, to jogging or running within the restricted 2km radius during the most restrictive of health measures.

Turning to the internet for inspiration and motivation, more than 120,000 people joined fitness and wellbeing Facebook groups since March this year.

James McGarry created The Runners Support Page on Facebook back in 2012 to help all levels of runners share advice with fellow running enthusiasts.

James said: “The Runners Support Page shone throughout Covid-19.

“When runners had to train alone, they had a community of like-minded people to turn to for help and support so that they never felt isolated.

“Our interactions on the page increased by almost 30% over the six-month Covid period.”

Gareth Lambe, head of Facebook Ireland said: “Facebook has always been a place where people connect with friends and family as well as neighbours, colleagues and others who share common interests and experiences.

“It’s fantastic to see those who might be feeling isolated or lonely, or missing events and gatherings, can still get involved and connect with their communities online by joining Facebook Groups.”

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