Community COVID: How can community assets address health inequities?


Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Chatterjee H J, Mughal R, Thomson L J

Year of Publication:
2021

Publisher(s):
University College London

Publication Type:
Report

Abstract:

As part of the UCL Community COVID research project this report demonstrates 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.

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 UCL’s current research project – Community COVID – where they have been investigating how participants experiencing lockdown, self-isolation, who are vulnerable, or who are shielding as a result of the pandemic, engage with community assets and resources.

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 the 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.

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.



Evidence Type: Qualitative Research

Main Focus: Community Development

Research Purpose: Discussion / Debate

Context: Community

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Mughal R., Thomson, L.J., Chatterjee, H.J et al. (2021) Community COVID: How can community assets address health inequities? London: University College London.