Health and wellbeing, access to social services, jobs and pay cheques, mortgages and rent payments and even weddings are all being disrupted by Covid-19. But what do we really know about the impact of these changes on individuals and our communities in the UK? How will social isolation impact individual wellbeing? What does a national crisis tell us about the resilience of our communities? Where are the examples of solidarity, connection and community support emerging? Where are people finding help when they need it? What will the long-term impact of this generation-defining moment be on the future of UK society?

Citizen scientists

These are just some of the issues being explored in a new landmark citizen science project — COVID-19 and Me — being launched today by The Young Foundation, a UKRI accredited research institute focused on developing better connected and stronger communities across the UK. Developed in partnership with The Open University and hosted on the organisation’s bespoke nQuire platform, the UK general public (over 18s) are being asked to sign up as citizen scientists to share their day-to-day, real-time experience of the pandemic with a team of social researchers.

The study is underpinned by two types of opt-in ‘missions’ on the nQuire platform – one confidential mission, where data shared can only be used anonymously for research purposes, and one social mission meaning that data and stories shared will be available for anyone to view and download. Depending on the choice of mission, participants will answer a series of questions online and be asked to share examples, photos and views on what they are seeing and experiencing in their communities. Content in the form of text and photos can be shared with consent, creating a rich archive of content about life during a pandemic.

A national perspective

Helen Goulden, CEO of The Young Foundation said: “We are in unprecedented times and this research will be critical to our understanding of how the Covid-19 pandemic is fundamentally and dynamically changing all of our lives. For the first time in history, the lived experience of a viral pandemic in communities will be documented and captured for future generations. The resulting research will form an important digital archive of how the communities responded to this generation-defining moment in time. To really understand what the impact of Covid-19 will be on UK society and community life we need to hear from you. This could be the biggest social citizen project ever in the UK!”

Professor Anne Adams, Professor of Engaged Practice and Research at The Open University said: “Within this current Covid-19 crisis it is important to gain as much insight to help us combat problems both for this emergency and for our future needs. A critical part of this understanding is the important experiences of people across the country. It is far too easy for decisions to be made based upon numbers without a nuanced understanding of how important different issues are to everyday people, across the country. This piece of citizen research will deliver equity in evidence for decision-makers by enabling a balanced national perspective on priorities based upon peoples’ practices and experiences.”

Mission engaged

Commenting on the launch, Programme Director, Lindsey Brummitt at Eden Project Communities, a supporter of the UK-wide initiative, said: “It is clear Covid-19 will have a huge impact on society and our communities. This research programme, led by The Young Foundation, will make sure we better understand what that impact will be and enable us all to find the right solutions to ensure communities are best placed to face the inevitable changes that this virus will have on our neighbourhoods. ”

The missions will be live on nQuire for three months.

Resulting insights will be compiled and published on nQuire and on The Young Foundation website, alongside first-person stories from around the UK, in summer 2020. A deeper analysis of the data will go on to contribute to a wider research study into the long-term impacts of a society changed by contagion.

To sign-up to this qualitative study, potential participants are asked to register with The Young Foundation directly via:

Posted on: 7 April 2020


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