Research explores Covid-19 impact on children in BAME families

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The ways in which discrimination is worsening the impact of Covid-19 on black, Asian and minority ethnic people in the UK will be investigated through a £2.5m research project led by nine members of the Black Female Professors Forum.

Photograph shows a young black man at a protest with a face mask which has the words 'racism is a virus' on it

Image taken in June 2020 by Steve Eason (Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0)

The consortium of academics, including Goldsmiths, University of London’s Professor Claudia Bernard, are launching five studies exploring the combined impact of the pandemic and racial discrimination on wellbeing and resilience, aiming to create a fuller picture of the vulnerabilities of BAME communities. 

Iyiola Solanke, Professor of EU Law and Social Justice at the University of Leeds, has been awarded funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to lead the project, titled the Consortium on Practices for Wellbeing and Resilience in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Families and Communities (Co-POWeR).

Claudia Bernard, Professor of Social Work at Goldsmiths, in collaboration with Professor Anna Gupta, Royal Holloway, and Professor Monica Lakhanpaul, UCL, will examine the impact of Covid-19 on children, young people and their families.  

Their 18-month study investigates what the implications of Covid-19 are for children and teenagers who have experienced a disproportionate socio-economic and psychosocial impact, with research examining the effects on mental and emotional health and well-being, and the psychological and social implications.  

Research will take place in partnership with local authorities and community organisations, through remote or face-to-face focus groups, individual interviews using storytelling methods, and workshops with children and their families across the UK, including Leeds and several London boroughs, including Camden and Tower Hamlets. 

A further four interlinked Co-POWeR projects will address the interaction of care, caring and carers within BAME families and communities; the impact of government emergency powers on wellbeing and resilience; improving resilience and wellbeing to tackle underlying health conditions; and the empowerment of BAME families and communities through positive narrative creation. 

Using their findings, Co-POWeR research teams will make recommendations to policymakers on the interventions needed to support these groups, and also work with documentary filmmakers and theatre arts specialists to develop non-fiction and fiction outputs for the wider public. 

Professor Bernard says: “The impact of the pandemic on children and young people, particularly those in black and minority ethnic families has been extraordinary but the voices of many of these young people are yet to be heard. Our research intends to centre the youth experience and voice.” 

“A key aim of the study is also to understand the difference of experience and impact of the pandemic on individuals and groups within broader BAME communities.” 

Professor Solanke, the project principal investigator, said: “There are two viruses affecting people from black and minority ethnic communities across the UK. One is Covid-19 and the other is discrimination. We want to illustrate that the way in which Covid-19 is exacerbating the experience of inequality for those in these communities. 

“The people in these communities have developed new strategies to promote their own wellbeing and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, but given the ongoing nature of the pandemic, official interventions are also needed to support them. 

“There is agency – people are able to adapt and support themselves - but the combined impact of COVID means that government intervention is essential to ensure the ongoing wellbeing of people of all ages who are subjected to these two viruses.”

Further information about Co-POWeR is available on the UKRI website and in the original news story from the University of Leeds.