Since its inception, the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre (SLRC) has prided itself on sharing impact-oriented research that explores key issues around race and social injustice.
Now the team, based at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), is turning its attention to the stark inequalities exposed by the coronavirus pandemic as seen in such areas including health, education and employment.
The SLRC has launched The COVID Files – a digital repository of published materials including academic research, news reports, webinars, podcasts and Government reports which highlight how pre-existing social inequalities have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
The team hopes it will become a resource for fellow academics, students, policy makers and the general public to explore some of the important issues captured in public debate in the context of COVID-19 concerning including health disparities, poverty traps and, crucially, the stories of the people worst affected.
SLRC director, Dr Kennetta Hammond Perry, said The COVID Files had been created to drive forward critical conversations and facilitated the sharing of information and ideas.
She said: “One of the aims of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre is to highlight how social injustices are experienced.
“In the wake of the global pandemic, it is vital to understand how issues surrounding public health provide a lens to understand inequality as a lived reality that affects access to health and social care, education, adequate housing and protection in the workplace.
“We also need to better understand how the wider social determinants of health are shaping the disproportionate effects that the virus is having in Black, Asian and ethnic minorities communities in the UK and around the globe.”
“Our aim is that The COVID Files becomes a useful resource for research, academic study, strategy development or wherever the material can lend support or add value.”
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics have shown that workers in lower paid sectors – such as food service or accommodation – are less likely to be able to work from home and therefore, more likely to be exposed to the virus. The death rate among low-paid workers is significantly higher than those in well-paid work.
Health inequalities have also been highlighted how BAME patients are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. ONS data released in June showed black people were 1.9 times more likely to die of coronavirus than white people, people from Bangladeshi or Pakistani backgrounds were 1.8 times more likely to die than white patients.
Public Health England said poor housing conditions, existing health inequalities and a greater incidence of public-facing work were among the key reasons.
The COVID Files builds upon work that the SLRC has begun to facilitate dialogue about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In June, the centre launched The Exchange, a new webinar series which began with an episode addressing racial inequality in the UK and the coronavirus which has been viewed thousands of times.
Dr Perry led discussions with experts including Professor Bertha Ochieng, Professor of Health and Social Care, Professor Ivan Browne, Leicester City Council’s Director of Public Health, Dr Natalie Darko of the Centre for BME Health at the University of Leicester and Professor Heidi Mirza, emeritus Professor at Goldsmiths, London.
The SLRC encourages and welcomes contributions to the repository from anyone who has accessed useful and relevant information or data. If you have material that you would like to submit for inclusion in The COVID Files, please send it to email@example.com.
Click here to access The COVID Files. (Please open in Google Chrome for best results).