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Josie Dickerson, Brian Kelly, Bridget Lockyer, Sally Bridges, Christopher Cartwright, Kathryn Willan, Katy Shire, Kirsty Crossley, Maria Bryant, Trevor A. Sheldon, Deborah A. Lawlor, John Wright, Rosemary R C McEachan, Kate E. Pickett.
Lockdown measures implemented to contain the Covid-19 virus have increased health inequalities, with families from deprived and ethnically diverse backgrounds most likely to be adversely affected. This paper describes the experiences of families living in the multi-ethnic and deprived city of Bradford, England.
Methods: A wave of survey data collection using a combination of email, text and phone with postal follow-up during the first Covid-19 UK lockdown (10th April to 30th June 2020) with parents participating in two longitudinal studies. Cross tabulations explored variation by ethnicity and financial insecurity. Text from open questions was analysed using thematic analysis.
Results: Of 7,652 families invited, 2,144 (28%) participated. The results presented are based on the 2,043 (95%) mothers’ responses: 957 (47%) of whom were of Pakistani heritage, 715 (35%) White British and 356 (18%) other ethnicity 971 (46%) lived in the most deprived decile of material deprivation in England. and 738 (37%) were financially insecure.
Many families lived in poor quality (N=574, 28%), overcrowded (N=364, 19%) housing. Food (N=396, 20%), employment (N=728, 37%) and housing (N=204, 10%) insecurities were common, particularly in those who were furloughed, self-employed not working or unemployed. Clinically important depression and anxiety were reported by 372 (19%) and 318 (16%) mothers. Ethnic minority and financially insecure families had a worse experience during the lockdown across all domains, with the exception of mental health which appeared worse in White British mothers. Open text responses corroborated these findings and highlighted high levels of anxiety and fear about Covid-19.
Conclusions: There is a need for policy makers and commissioners to better support vulnerable families during and after the pandemic. Future work will use longitudinal data from before the pandemic, and from future surveys during the pandemic, to describe trajectories and the long-term consequences of the pandemic on vulnerable populations.