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Researchers produce films documenting life for low income families during Covid

Posted on 21 December 2022

Researchers examining the impact of the Covid pandemic on low income families have released a series of animated films documenting the project.

Illustration Credit: Catherine Fortey – Changing Realities project

The films provide a series of one minute takes on the innovative research the team conducted as part of Covid Realities, showing the unique way participants, researchers and the funder came together to share their experiences during a remarkable time.

The films, and a zine (DIY magazine), form part of the Covid Realities research project, a collaboration between the University of York, the University of Birmingham, Child Poverty Action Group and funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

As part of the project, researchers invited parents and carers from across the UK with children living on a low income to share and document their experiences, taking part in online activities and workshops between 2020 and 2022, to better understand the struggles of daily life.


Project lead Dr Ruth Patrick, from the University of York’s School for Business and Society, said: “Through Covid Realities, we worked in partnership with parents and carers to document life on a low income during an extraordinary time. 

“These short films and zine share reflections on the approach that we took, and we hope that they will inspire others to include those with the expertise that comes with experience in their own work.” 

“Covid Realities demonstrated the great potential inherent to working in a participatory way, with particular scope in using online technologies to bring people together from across the UK to collaborate for change.” 

The films have been created collaboratively, reflecting the partnership approach which is inherent to all the work done. The films are accompanied by a zine, which shares words and images from parents and carers who took part in Covid Realities about their experiences.


Alex Beer, Welfare Programme Head at the Nuffield Foundation said: “Covid Realities demonstrates the power of collaborative research with families living on a low income. These films highlight the focus on the voices of families first and foremost, supported by the research team to share experiences and to generate and collaborate on potential policy change. 

“This is not an approach that can be undertaken lightly. It is one that requires establishing and living by an ethos of care and compassion, and collaboration, across the entire project.”


Tayyaba Siddiqui, a participant in Covid Realities said: “These films share why we worked together. We wanted to show the reality of life for families like mine. We may have all weathered the storm of first the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis together, but we were in very different boats. Things can be different, and I hope that they will be one day.” 

Film one - Participants:

The film hears from seven participants, how they accessed the online project and what it meant to them. We hear how the project made them feel connected to people across the UK, listened to and empowered.

Film two - Researcher:

Dr Maddy Power, a researcher on the project, highlights how they created an environment for participants to feel supported and together as a group. The film also includes discussions around the issues people were facing in their lives, policies and how they could feed into recommendations for change. 

Film three - Partner (CPAG):

Lizzie Flew, Campaigns and Communications Manager at Child Poverty Action Group highlights the role of art-based methodologies, which allowed participants to communicate their experiences and recommendations for creating change.

Film four - Funder:

Alex Beer, Welfare Programme Head at the Nuffield Foundation shares reflections as the funder for Covid Realities, drawing out lessons for other work and celebrating the opportunities and ethics of care that underpinned the programme.

Film five - Artists:

Tom Flannery, Designer and Jean McEwan, Visual Artist of the zine, reflect on their roles in the project, sharing a taste of the creativity required in the project. Jean describes the importance of creating a safe space and the collaborative process throughout.

Film six - Reflections:

Participants from Covid Realities reflect and share what the project meant to them, and how they felt that by having a platform and being encouraged to speak up, they were part of the building blocks to create change. 

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About this research

Changing Realities Project lead Dr Ruth Patrick, from the University of York’s School for Business and Society

A collaboration between the University of York, the University of BirminghamChild Poverty Action Group and funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

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