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Google searches for 'hope' and 'prayer' peaked during 2020

by Tola Mbakwe

As the UK marked one year since the first national lockdown on Tuesday, Google gave insight into what was on people's mind at the time. 

The search engine revealed terms such as "hope", "hug" and "prayer" reached a record high on Google search in 2020, offering a snapshot of the national mood. 

Christian charity HOPE Together brings churches together to transform communities. Roy Crowne from the charity told Premier he's not surprised by the stats: 

"We walked into a world that was totally unlike anything that ever happened. All of the things that they trusted, all of the things that they would have put security in all of a sudden, everything's shaken and you start to ask the big questions 'What can I hope in? What can I trust in? What can I have security in?  You kind of feel hopeless, you kind of feel I'm not sure where to go. So I can totally get why people would Google 'hope'."

Searches for "panic attack", "hypochondriasis" and "how to help" also saw a new high, according to Google Trends data,

Crowne said at the beginning of the first lockdown, the Church may have missed an opportunity to respond to the hopelessness felt my so many non-Christians. 

"During that initial season, the Church moved online. The problem was, we didn't address our audience. So what we tended to do online was just go to our regular audience, unaware that there was a whole stack of people that were looking at 'hope' and thought maybe the Church could speak into that. So we didn't adjust what we were saying and what we communicated to that need."

However, he commended the UK Church for its practical and spiritual response in helping people through the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, a surge in people looking up "puppy", "barbecue", "books" and "hot tub" gives a sense of the types of things users sought out to cope during the pandemic.

"Public toilet" and "pub" experienced a boost in the summer months of 2020 as the first lockdown started to ease.

Over the past 12 months, Google found that "when will lockdown end?" was searched 165 per cent more in the UK than "when will coronavirus end?".

The data also gives an insight into what people missed most during the three lockdowns, with "when will McDonald's open again?" coming top in April, "when will golf courses open?" for November, and "when will hairdressers open?" for January 2021.

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