UK’s first survey documenting the lives of ethnic and religious minority people during Covid-19 launches
By: Neil Vowles
Last updated: Tuesday, 16 February 2021
The University of Sussex is playing a key role in the UK’s first ever survey documenting the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic and the policy response of lockdowns on the lives of 17,000 ethnic and religious minority people.
The Evidence for Equality National Survey (EVENS) aims to transform the policy landscape, inform work and campaigns for racial justice, and create a data legacy by providing robust evidence on a comprehensive range of issues facing ethnic and religious minority people during the pandemic.
Among the topics to be surveyed by the project, which was launched earlier today, are employment, finance, education, economic wellbeing, health, housing, policing, identity and experiences of discrimination and racism.
Dr Laia Becares, Senior Lecturer in Applied Social Science at the University's School of Education and Social Work, is the project’s main researcher shaping the content of the questionnaire.
Led by the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) in partnership with the University of Manchester, the University of St Andrews and the University of Sussex, EVENS is being conducted by Ipsos MORI and has been translated into 13 languages.
The 30-minute survey will target the full range of ethnic and religious minority groups, including Gypsy, Traveller and Roma people and Jewish communities, across England, Scotland and Wales, and will run for three months until May 2021.
Dr Becares said: “EVENS will capture key information to help us understand the extent of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the lives of ethnic and religious minority people and their families. A key part of the survey asks about experiences of racism and discrimination that people may have experienced over time, to document how lifetime experiences of discrimination and oppression lead to the stark ethnic inequalities we see in the UK. We will also ask questions on sexual orientation and gender identity, which will help us to understand how different social identities that people have intersect to pattern the differential impact of the pandemic across groups in society.”
Dr Nissa Finney, EVENS’ Lead and Reader in Human Geography at the University of St Andrews, said: “Disadvantages of ethnic and religious minority people have been highlighted and exacerbated by the period of austerity, followed by the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning there is an urgent need to act to mitigate growing inequalities. EVENS will give us a unique and authentic representation of the lives of ethnic and religious minority people in Britain during the current crisis.”
Professor James Nazroo, Deputy Director of CoDE and EVENS’ Co-Lead, said: “This ground-breaking survey will help shift the narrative on ethnic and religious inequalities in modern Britain. We will be asking how your life has been affected by the pandemic. We will ask about work and health, caring and housing. We will ask about experiences of racism and discrimination. There is an urgency as practitioners and policymakers are crying out for robust and comprehensive scientific evidence that they can use to understand and address the inequalities faced by ethnic and religious minority people. EVENS will provide that evidence.”
EVENS is partnering with a diverse range of Voluntary and Community Sector organisations, including Operation Black Vote (OBV), the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), The Ubele Initiative, the Stuart Hall Foundation, EYST (Wales), Migrants’ Rights Network, BEMIS (Scotland), the Race Equality Foundation and Business in the Community, who will assist with the recruitment drive.
Zara Mohammed, the new Elected Secretary General, MCB, said: “EVENS will benefit society as a whole because it will be a snapshot of people’s experiences and point out where something needs to be done. It also aims to reach out to Muslim respondents to a far greater degree and with a wider range of questions affecting their daily lives than other social surveys. Even before the Covid crisis, the MCB was highlighting poorer health among elderly Muslim women, and for some time now, we have been collecting evidence of Islamophobia. EVENS will provide comprehensive, evidence-based and up to date information to better highlight and address such inequalities and forms of discrimination.”
Ellie Rogers, CEO of Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange (Leeds GATE), said: “Gypsies and Travellers have some very important cultural practices that we could all learn from. Especially when it comes to the ways in which communities turn up for each other and the respect they show, especially in death and mourning. During Covid, I have seen some dehumanising responses to people who are in a very vulnerable place due to losing a loved one. Instead of valuing the communities’ assets and working with them, they have been demonised and made out to be criminals. Through the survey, I want people's experiences to be seen, heard and respected.”
EVENS will cover the following subjects:
- Demographic characteristics. Including age, gender, sexual orientation, household composition, tenure and type of accommodation, marital status.
- Socioeconomic characteristics. Including current economic activity, number of hours worked, employment characteristics related to Covid-19 (such as being a key worker), personal and household income, use of benefits, training and education, and financial worries.
- Ethnicity and migration. Including ethnic and religious identity, country of birth, year of arrival to UK, nationality, feelings of belonging to England/Scotland/Wales.
- Racism and discrimination. Including experiences of racism and discrimination, anticipation of discrimination, and coping mechanisms.
- Health. Including general health, long-term illnesses, mental health, social isolation, Covid-19 related symptoms, Covid-19 vaccination and experiences accessing the NHS.
- Black Lives Matter. Including participation in protests, support of movement, and opinion of the impact of BLM on society.
- Caring and volunteering. Including caring activities not related to Covid-19, Covid-19 related caring, volunteering in the community, and receipt of care.
- Social cohesion. Including feelings of belonging to neighbourhood and to local area.
- Attitudes towards the police. Including confidence and trust in the police, experience of stop and search, being stopped in relation to lockdown, and overall sense of police activity in the community.
- Political participation. Including trust in government and politicians, political interest, and political affiliation.
For more information on the project, visit ethnicity.ac.uk/evensurvey.