The impact of COVID-19 on older people and their carers in Coventry and Leicester’s BAME communities will be explored as part of a major new study into how social and economic inequalities have affected health and care provision during the pandemic.

Professor Shirin Rai of Warwick’s Department of Politics and International Studies is one of nine academics from across the UK who have formed the Consortium on Practices for Wellbeing and Resilience in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Families and Communities (Co-POWeR).

Professor Rai will focus on the interaction of care, caring and carers within BAME families and communities in Coventry and Leicester, seeking to understand how COVID-19 has affected those being cared for as well as their paid and unpaid carers, and recommending ways to increase their wellbeing and resilience.

Some of the stories encountered during the research will be dramatized in partnership with Coventry’s EGO theatre group to provide a powerful narrative illustrating the interaction of the COVID-19 pandemic with the social and institutional discrimination faced daily by BAME groups in the UK.

Professor Rai said: “I am looking forward to working with colleagues and with BAME communities in Coventry and Leicester on this important issue to develop a rigorously researched, innovative and participative piece of work with policy relevance.”

The UKRI Agile Research and Innovation Response to COVID-19 has awarded £2.5 million to create the Consortium on Practices for Wellbeing and Resilience in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Families and Communities (Co-POWeR).

Co-POWeR will explore how emergency COVID-19 powers are disproportionately impacting people from BAME backgrounds, and how the pandemic is affecting care and caring, as well as mental and physical health and wellbeing across all ages.

The group will be led by Iyiola Solanke, Professor of EU Law and Social Justice in the University of Leeds School of Law. Co-POWeR is a multi-disciplinary consortium of nine academics from across the UK who are all members of the Black Female Professors Forum

Joining Professor Solanke in the consortium are:

·             Florence Ayisi, Professor of International Documentary Film from the University of South Wales

·             Professor Claudia Bernard, Professor of Social Work & Head of Postgraduate Research at Goldsmiths, University of London

·             Gargy Bhattacharyya, Professor of Sociology at University of East London

·             Anna Gupta, Professor of Management at Royal Holloway

·             Raminder Kaur, Professor of Anthropology and Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex

·             Monica Lakhanpaul, Professor of integrated Community Child Health at University College London

·             Shirin Rai, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick

·             Maria Stokes, Professor of Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation at the University of Southampton.

Sabu Padmadas, Professor of Demography and Global Health at the University of Southampton, will be providing statistical expertise.

The researchers will form a People’s Commission to conduct interviews with people in BAME families and communities to establish what support is needed.

UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated longstanding inequalities in health, employment and education in the UK.

Emerging evidence suggests that people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds have experienced the hardest economic shocks. We cannot ignore the social, cultural and economic factors that have shaped the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities throughout the pandemic.

“It is crucial that we understand the depth and breadth of the impacts of these factors so that we can take action to alleviate the consequences for these communities.”