A new Nuffield funded study examining the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has officially been launched today. Led by Dr Ruth Patrick (University of York), Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite (University of Birmingham) and Dr Maddy Power (University of York), the study has several ambitious aims and objectives, including:
• Drawing on evidence from welfare rights advisors to consider how the social security system and those reliant upon on it, respond to the pandemic;
• Collating data from ongoing studies to explore how families in poverty are experiencing the crisis now and in the longer term;
• Developing a dedicated space for researchers to consider how best to research with families in ethical and sensitive ways; and
• Supporting families themselves to document their experiences as they unfold.
The ‘Following Young Fathers Further’ team is honoured to be included as a collaborator for this research. As Ruth and her colleagues note in their article for Discover Society, this crisis is likely to affect us all, albeit in markedly different ways. Young fathers may already be facing a specific set of disadvantages across their parenting journeys, including any combination of poverty; limited support in education, training or employment; unstable homes; volatile family backgrounds and periods in care; mental health issues; and experiences of offending and domestic violence (as both victims and perpetrators). They are also likely to have a range of associated health and social care support needs across their parenting journeys and are often dependents themselves when they enter parenthood (Neale et al. 2015). We do not yet know to what extent the crisis may further compound this complex constellation of issues.
As part of our qualitative longitudinal study, we are especially well-placed to put in place strategies for capturing these effects as they unfold over time. Our hope is that by working alongside a national group of social researchers and with young fathers and their families, that we are better able to understand the impact that the crisis has on the parenting experiences of young men, to influence the evolving policy response in participatory ways, and contribute to a much longer history of evidence about how low-income families experience and respond in crisis contexts.