UCL News


Female BAME professors join forces to tackle Covid-19 racial inequality

12 February 2021

A national initiative has been launched by a group of senior female Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority researchers, including UCL’s Professor Monica Lakhanpaul (UCL GOS Institute of Child Health), to explore the impact of Covid-19 on people from BAME groups.

Monica Lakhanpaul

The newly formed Consortium on Practices for Wellbeing and Resilience in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Families and Communities (Co-POWeR) has received a 2.5 million award from the UKRI to lead a series of 18-month projects starting this month.

The group of multi-disciplinary academics will investigate the combined impact of Covid-19 and racial discrimination on wellbeing and resilience across BAME groups to provide a fuller picture of the vulnerabilities of these communities.

The study by Professor Lakhanpaul (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health), Professor Claudia Bernard (Goldsmiths) and Professor Anna Gupta (Royal Holloway) will focus on children’s mental and emotional health and well-being following the disproportionate socioeconomic and psychosocial impact of the pandemic.

Professor Lakhanpaul said: “We know that the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities have been devastated by this pandemic. The inequalities and vulnerabilities that have always been present have become even more visible.

“Exposure to adverse circumstances are risk factors for long term impact on mental health and well-being and in particular, for children experiencing trauma, anxiety and depression. Taking into account the long-lasting negative impact on children’s psychological and emotional development is critical in order to mitigate risks for their future mental health. 

"The purpose of this work package is to understand BAME children, young people and parents’ perceptions of the impact of Covid-19 on their coping and survival and co create solutions with them.”

Professor Lakhanpaul and her colleagues hope to unravel the biological and social factors that underpin some of these vulnerabilities in children and work in partnership with families help build a better future for BAME communities.

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.”

Joining Professor Lakhanpaul in the consortium, which brings together individuals from humanities and science, law, political science, social work, creative arts and health are:

  • Professor Iyiola Solanke, Professor of EU Law and Social Justice, University of Leeds and Principal Investigator of Co-POWeR
  • 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
  • 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

The funding has been granted by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).