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Research into the impact of coronavirus on young Black Britons

Black teen girl, wearing a blue surgical mask, staring into the distance with her arms foldedDr Michael Boampong, Lecturer in Childhood and Youth Studies, has received £10,000 from the OU’s COVID-19 Rapid Response funding scheme to research the impact of COVID-19 on young Black Britons.

Working with external partners including UNICEF-UK, Commonwealth Secretariat and Be Heard, the pilot study will explore how the pandemic is affecting Black young migrants and those of Black British African-Caribbean backgrounds and investigate the factors that contribute to Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups being ‘most at-risk’ from COVID-19.

Dr Boampong said: “BAME adults are primarily at risk from COVID-19. While Black children and young people (including those from migrant background) are likely to experience direct and indirect consequences of COVID-19, their experiences have been under-researched and silent in public-decisions. Thus, working with young people is critical to ensuring that Black migrant youth experiences are not left out.’’

Regine Hempel, WELS Associate Dean for Research Excellence, said: “This research will help develop understanding of Black youth vulnerabilities and agency within broader contextual factors among key stakeholders, including community-based organisations, policymakers, local authorities, and international organisations. Collaborating with these partners on this project will strengthen our relationships and promises to support future work in this important area.”

Building on previous work with British-Ghanaians families in London, this seven-month pilot focuses on Black young migrants and those of Black British African-Caribbean backgrounds. It will be carried out through in-depth narrative interviews which will be conducted with 25 children/youth (7–25 years) from ethnic minority communities. The interviews will explore the impacts of different social, economic and legal status on jobs, education, rights and mental wellbeing.

Naomi Danquah, UNICEF-UK Child Friendly Cities and Communities Programme Director, said: “All children should be treated fairly, protected from discrimination and have access to the best possible outcomes, regardless of their background or status. This project will further highlight the health and economic inequalities experienced by Black children and youth from migrant backgrounds and families in this country and the need for additional investment in policies that protect the most vulnerable.”

Initial findings are expected to be available by 1 April 2021 and will be prepared for publication as well as being used to inform future research proposals. In addition, the research team plan to organise a public seminar on 15 May 2021, the UN International Day of Families.  


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