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Thanks to the responses of BiB families to the Covid-19 surveys we have been able to learn about how challenging the experiences of lockdown have been.
Throughout the pandemic BiB has worked with communities and key stakeholders across the district to find out the impacts of the Covid-19 restrictions on vulnerable families. We have shown that the response to the pandemic has had many unintended and long-lasting negative consequences, including on mental health, financial insecurity and reduced physical activity, with the greatest impact being on those families who were already vulnerable.
We carried out surveys of BiB participants during the first national lockdown (April – June 2020) and at two further time points (Oct – Dec 2020 and May-July 2021) to explore the trajectories of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the lives of the families across Bradford. We surveyed over 2000 parents and close to 1000 children aged 9-13 about their experiences.
Key findings from the BiB families survey
We found increased rates of clinically relevant symptoms of depression and anxiety during the pandemic compared to before the pandemic. The number of women reporting clinically relevant symptoms of depression increased from 11% before the pandemic to 20% during the first lockdown, and symptoms of anxiety increased from 10% to 16%. An increase in depression was associated with loneliness, financial insecurity, etc.
We also found that many families had become financially insecure at the start of the pandemic, and whilst this improved slightly over time, 33% said they were worse off during the first lockdown compared to three months previously. Financial insecurity was primarily associated with employment status, with the worst impact being on families who were furloughed or self-employed.
We found a large proportion of adults and children were falling short of the Government recommendations for physical activity during the pandemic. During the first lockdown, 12% of adults were doing no exercise at all. This increased slightly to 14% between October-December 2020. A lack of physical activity was far greater in Pakistani heritage parents (17%) than in White British parents (7%).
What have we learnt?
Thanks to the responses of BiB families to the COVID-19 surveys we have been able to give a voice to many vulnerable families, highlighting how challenging the Covid-19 restrictions have been, and their long lasting impacts. The rapid evidence collected from these surveys has already been used to inform local decision makers in our district who have used this information to plan their Covid-19 recovery plan. We’ve also given regular feedback of the findings to participating families, and given them links to relevant local and national agencies to enable them to find support to help them overcome their challenges.
We will continue to track the BiB family cohorts, so we can continue to work with the community and services to protect, support, and improve the lives of those within our Bradford community.