Study to probe lives of 17,000 ethnic and religious minorities during pandemic

Jemma Crew, PA Social Affairs Correspondent
·2-min read

A new survey is to examine the lives of 17,000 ethnic and religious minority people to highlight the issues they have faced during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Evidence for Equality National Survey (Evens) will document the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns on people from ethnic and religious minority groups in Britain.

It will ask participants about employment, finance, education, economic wellbeing, health, housing, policing, identity and experiences of discrimination and racism.

The project is led by the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) with researchers from the Universities of Manchester, St Andrews and Sussex, and will run until May 2021.

The research, which its founders say is the “first and largest survey of its kind”, is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

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.“

The survey has been translated into 13 languages and will focus on a full range of ethnic and religious minority groups, including Gypsy, Traveller and Roma people and Jewish communities, across England, Scotland and Wales.

Several organisations will help to recruit participants, including the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), Migrants’ Rights Network, and the Race Equality Foundation.

Zara Mohammed, MCB’s new elected secretary-general, 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, chief executive of Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange, 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.”