Community COVID aimed to find out how participants engaged with resources designed to inspire ideas, stimulate creativity and physical activity, combat loneliness and improve social connectivity during pandemic restrictions. We wanted to know about the positive as well as the negative aspects of activities and their effects on health and wellbeing. We were also interested to understand how people experienced lockdown while shielding or in isolation and how providers, link workers and other organisations connected with vulnerable and hard-to-reach audiences. The project was funded by the AHRC as part of UKRI’s Covid-19 funding, and a UCL Rapid Response grant. Please read our latest report: Community COVID: How can community assets address health inequities?
Creativity in health: Podcast
Dr Rabya Mughal talks to Paula Blair about UCL’s Community COVID project, the relationship between arts and wellbeing, and how community engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic was used to address social inequity: Audio Visual Cultures Podcast
Community COVID and tackling health inequalities: Blog
Excerpt from Prof Helen Chatterjee’s blog on how community assets, creative health partnerships and social prescribing can tackle health inequalities:
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted significant inequalities where the poorest members of society have been adversely and disproportionately affected by coronavirus. There is substantial evidence demonstrating how community assets, such as museums, libraries, parks, arts and other organisations, have a key role to play in tackling health inequalities, particularly around supporting vulnerable people with complex needs. This is a key focus of research in our current research project – Community COVID – where we have been investigating how participants experiencing lockdown, self-isolation, who are vulnerable, or who are shielding as a result pf the pandemic, engage with community assets and resources. Community COVID is a collaborative research project funded by the AHRC as part of UKRI’s Covid-19 funding. The project is formed from a consortium of academics and people with lived experience, in partnership with Arts Council England, Creative Lives, the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance, NHS Personalised Care and the National Academy for Social Prescribing, and Natural England.
The research has identified hundreds of resources, activities and programmes designed to support people during lockdown – both on and offline – some are adaptations of existing programmes but many are new programmes. Most are targeting isolation and mild-moderate mental health issues (including depression, anxiety). Data from multiple sources shows that people are participating in activities (both on- and offline) more often now than before COVID restrictions, but that there is uneven and disproportionate access to resources, and many individuals face significant barriers to access. We found a strong correlation of loneliness with psychological wellbeing; as loneliness decreased, wellbeing increased, as people engaged with community resources. Increases in wellbeing were associated with the extent to which participants felt connected to other people; hence the more connected they felt, the higher their wellbeing.
The Community COVID research project has shed light on how creative and community engagement can be used to tackle some of the major social determinants of health (such as isolation, digital poverty, inequalities), and better understand how arts, creativity, nature and other community assets can be best deployed to tackle health inequalities. A key feature of our findings is the value of developing ‘creative health’ partnerships which harness the collective power of arts, nature and creativity, in association with health, social care and third sector services. In some cases this has led to new and unexpected collaborations (such as museums, libraries or artists working with food banks or local authority risk registers), and this has created new ways of working to support vulnerable, marginalised or isolated members of the community.
Lessons learnt from the pandemic offer new insights into how community assets could be repositioned to support individuals who face the most severe inequalities, but there is still a long way to go to understand how to ensure equitable access to assets in the community – particular in areas of high socio-economic deprivation – i.e. how we can make the community ecosystem fairer and more equitable for all. For full version of blog: https://ucleuropeblog.com/2021/06/28/how-can-community-assets-creative-health-partnerships-and-social-prescribing-tackle-health-inequalities/
More about what you have been doing: Survey
Thank you to everyone who took part in the Community COVID Survey: What have you been doing? If you indicated that you would like to volunteer to help us further with our research by taking part in an interview to tell us more about what you have been doing, a researcher will be in touch with you shortly.
Community COVID phases:
- Scoping: Scope the range of ‘creative isolation’ resources
- Evaluation: Evaluate the impact of participating in on- and offline activities
- Learning: Provide recommendations for good practice regarding provision of high quality creative activities, accessible to a wide diversity of people irrespective of levels of digital literacy
- Synthesis: Synthesise evidence from creative engagement to feed into post-lockdown strategic planning at local and national levels
Community COVID deliverables:
- Rapid Evidence Review providing an overview and critical appraisal of the range of ‘creative isolation’ resources as well as appropriate methods for evaluating their efficacy and impact
- Fit-for-purpose Evaluation Framework extending Public Health England Arts and Health Evaluation Framework and made freely available
- Documentation of participants’ Creative Isolation Journeys using media of their choice
- Accessible Guide to Good Practice, making recommendations and building on existing models
- Evidence Synthesis Report co-produced with the What Works Centre for Wellbeing, drawing together learning to inform post-lockdown, ‘re-lockdown’ and self-isolation strategies
- Peer-reviewed Publications and Conference Presentations
Community COVID Consortium
The project is being carried out by the COVID Consortium. Prof Helen Chatterjee (UCL) will lead the project as Principal Investigator with Co-investigators:
- Prof Norma Daykin (Tampere University, Finland) https://www.tuni.fi/en/norma-daykin
- Prof Miles Richardson (University of Derby) www.derby.ac.uk/ncxrg/
- Prof Aaron Williamon (Royal College of Music) https://performancescience.ac.uk/team/williamon/
- Dr Daisy Fancourt (UCL) representing the March Network https://www.marchnetwork.org/
- Mah Rana as External Adviser with lived experience, read Mah’s blog on well-making spaces
- Dr Linda Thomson (UCL) Senior Research Fellow https://culturehealthresearch.wordpress.com/
- Arts Council England https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/
- Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance https://www.culturehealthandwellbeing.org.uk/
- NHS England and NHS Improvement https://improvement.nhs.uk/
- Natural England https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/natural-england
- Creative Lives https://www.creative-lives.org/ Get Creative Outdoors 2021