×
In this section

About the Research

‘British Families in Lockdown’ (BFiL) is a qualitative study led by Leeds Trinity University which has investigated the initial responses and day-to-day experiences of British families during the first seven weeks of lockdown. Fifty-six families from a diverse set of socio-economic backgrounds, geographies, religions and cultures participated in semi-structured interviews whilst under lockdown in their homes, using VOIP protocols to communicate with the researchers. Family members shared their detailed, personal stories and experiences of employment, children’s schooling, health, well-being, family life, leisure time and technology use during the first phase of lockdown when restrictions were at their severest.

Outside of this study, reported lockdown evidence is overwhelmingly quantitative based, scientific, clinical, anecdotal or journalistic, as such, these qualitative insights help build a more rounded and detailed picture of British family experiences. The study was quick to respond to the pandemic and is one of the few qualitative studies collecting a broad range of data from the UK population during this unprecedented period.

By investigating the impact of the national lockdown on families in a qualitative manner, this study can improve policy and professional support responses in this area, with the potential to make a positive difference to the lives of parents and their children.  Furthermore, this study may help to empower families should future social restrictions be in place.

From our initial analysis it has become clear that lockdown has given families the opportunity to reflect on  many aspects of their day to day life and the experience has changed outlooks, attitudes and expectations for the majority of our participants. Different families have responded in different ways, with some demonstrating more ability to cope than others, and some families being more prepared or adaptable than others. We have identified a number of difficult experiences for families, yet we have also heard about many positive and enriching experiences too.

Download the British Families in Lockdown Report and Communities and Families in Lockdown Learning Summary

Key areas of investigation

BFIL highlighted several important themes in relation to the potentially dichotomic experiences of British families including family relationships, connectedness with others, technology and media use, education, work demands, finances, well-being of household members and responses to government guidance.

Our initial findings demonstrate some of the complex ways in which lockdown has impacted the lives of families including marginalised parents such as young fathers and those from BAME communities. Our data supports quantitative reports to some extent but there is contrasting evidence and wider issues to also consider.

  • The critical workers we spoke to, by and large had a partner or spouse who was able to stay at home with the children to provide home-schooling. Either because they were unemployed, self-employed, were furloughed or were in education themselves.
  • For families in which both parents were critical workers, the children were offered a school place.
  • Some families who were provided a school place for their child, did not necessarily take up the school offer. Some parents chose to work from home to be with their children and could work flexible hours, had an understanding employer or in one case, a parent decided to resign in order to look after the children.  A small number of parents relied on relatives for childcare as an alternative. 
  • Being a critical worker did not guarantee a school place, even if the child had severe care needs. This caused distress for the parents and led to difficulties at home.
  • Families of non-critical workers with children who had additional care needs such as disabilities or SEN reported that they were not given the opportunity to send their children into school.
  • Despite not being critical workers, many parents were still under pressure to work full time hours, sometimes to the same or increased workloads. These families would have benefitted from being given the choice of school spaces. Especially those who had additional care needs within the home.
  • Several parents were not overly concerned about the impact of closures on their child’s early years development. Parents here, felt that their children would ‘catch up’ when early years settings resumed, and children were also at an early stage of their development and learning journey.
  • A number of parents felt that their child had benefited from the increased level of parental attention as a result of the lockdown with positive benefits for home learning, including improved developmental outcomes for some pre-school children.
  • A minority of parents expressed concerns about early years closures and the negative impact that this may have on their child’s physical, social, emotional development and well-being.
  • For parents, whose children would be transitioning to reception class in September later this year, they expressed concerns about their child’s level of school ‘readiness’ and the possible missed learning and developmental opportunities at the early years setting.
  • Some parents were particularly concerned about the risk of Covid-19 infection within early years settings and chose to withdraw their child before the lockdown measures formally began.
  • Most parents were satisfied with the early years’ settings in terms of communication to parents, home-learning support and the nature of the resources provided.
  • Some early years settings were pro-active in communication, offering ideas for home activities.
  • Some early years settings utilised online resources to help facilitate home learning, but not all.
  • Where one or both parents worked, productivity levels were reportedly affected by the lack of early years childcare which could cause feelings of parental stress and anxiety.
  • Some parents with young children normally in nurseries or with childminders were not used to spending so many full days with babies and toddlers.
  • Parents were surprised and pleased to learn and develop new skills in terms of entertaining and understanding their young children during lockdown.
  • Learning that children could be happy and entertained simply by being included in day-to-day family life and tasks was a surprise to some first-time parents.
  • Some parents aim to rely less on excursions, clubs and external activities in the future and spend more time on activities at home.
  • Some parents plan to work more flexibly in the future so they can spend more time with their children and rely less on formal childcare.
  • Parents who usually worked long hours and saw little of their children, enjoyed the opportunity offered by lockdown to work from home and build stronger bonds with their children.
  • Some parents perceived that their children were generally happier after spending more time with them.
  • Some parents thought their child had developed and matured whilst being out of nursery and early years settings, but they were unsure if that development would have taken place anyway, regardless of lockdown.
  • Parents had worries about their children settling into nursery again after lockdown, given that the first transition was not an easy one.
  • Parents whose children had either disabilities or SEN, commented on the lack of support or provision for their children whilst they were at home.
  • In some cases, children with SEN were not given differentiated homework and the work they were expected to do was perceived to be beyond their capacity without support.
  • Some children’s mental health support discontinued once lockdown began. This resulted in additional worries for the parents and the children concerned.
  • The difficulties some parents faced in managing their children’s additional needs alongside the expectations of their employers, resulted in increased levels of anxiety and fraught family relationships.
  • Parents of children whose exams had been cancelled largely felt that it was unfair from their child’s perspective.
  • Parents also felt that children had lost out on a “rite of passage”.
  • Most parents felt that their children would have preferred to have sat their exams, although many parents seemed satisfied with the plans to award exam results based on predicted grades and mock exam results.
  • Some parents felt that the use of predicted grades and mock exam results as a mechanism to award grades was unfair.
  • The parents who seemed most concerned were those whose children are due to take exams next year, and there is significant worry about the effect that this year’s lockdown will have on the children’s preparedness for a year’s time.
  • There was little consistency between schools concerning how much contact was made between the schools and the lockdown families. Some schools had regular contact with the pupils including daily video conferencing. Other schools were in contact as little as once a week via email.
  • In general parents felt that the work sent home from school demanded a higher academic standard than they thought was appropriate. Some parents concluded that perhaps children are being schooled to higher standards than they were.
  • Some of the learning sent home was expecting the pupils to undertake work that they had not been taught about previously.
  • Some parents felt the schoolwork was beyond their own capabilities and worried about their abilities to teach the subject material as a result.
  • Other parents thought that the homework provided by schools was of a low standard.
  • In the main it seemed that those children who were at private schools were getting better standards of teaching. All of the private schools in our study were undertaking video conferencing and the pupils could attend virtual lessons.
  • Many pupils at state-run schools had no personal contact or direct dialogue with their teachers.
  • Whilst some parents felt that their children missed school, others felt that their children were thriving at home whilst home learning.
  • Whilst some schools provided a several hours’ worth of studying expectations each day, other schools expected less.
  • Despite the school’s expectations, most children would only study for around three hours or less each day and parent’s felt this was the maximum amount of time children could concentrate for.
  • However, some parents did insist that their children studied for a full school day, but they noticed that their children would not respond well to this and struggled to maintain concentration.
  • Most parents felt that their children were having different and varied learning experiences whilst at home which were as valuable and, in some cases, more valuable than the missed schoolwork.
  • Some parents are now considering home-schooling their children as a result of the lockdown experience.
  • Parents identified schools as a cause of negative mental health outcomes for their children and thought lockdown and the home learning environment was beneficial.
  • Some children who had been victims of bullying or who experienced anxiety at school were benefitting from being at home.
  • A significant number of parents thought that the experience of being at home was positive for the children’s mental health. They were spending more time with their parents and siblings and strengthening family bonds.
  • Concerns about the lack of contact with friends, were often overcome by children having online contact with their classmates and peer groups.
  • Children were often perceived as spending a lot of time communicating with their friends either through online gaming or through social media.
  • Most parents were not concerned about their children’s ability to engage with and complete work at home. Children were mostly perceived as positive and engaged with their home-learning and would begin their studying either independently or under parental guidance without conflict.
  • Parent’s noted that some children could only actively engage with learning for a few hours each day.
  • Some parents were concerned about the possible effects of social isolation and their child’s well-being. These parents were often those who reported difficulties adapting to lockdown themselves.
  • Some children were encouraged to ignore social distancing rules so that they could see their friends. This is because the parents either wanted them to “get out of the house” or they thought it was good for their children’s mental health to see their friends.
  • It was acknowledged that time apart as a family was just as important as time spent together during lockdown for positive mental health.
  • A small number of secondary aged children did not want to leave the house on their own, due to pre-existing social anxiety and/or fears of conflicts and confrontations with others on the streets.
  • Parents of older children typically worried more about their children’s well-being than parents of younger children.
  • Most parents reported improvements in the levels of family closeness and perceived this to have had a positive effect on the household including a sense of well-being.
  • Sibling relationships improved during lockdown in many cases.
  • For some parents, such as full-time workers, the number of hours spent together as a family had dramatically increased as a result of lockdown.
  • Parents felt closer to their children and enjoyed the family time together.
  • There were concerns from some parents about the potential negative mental health impacts for their children when returning to school.
  • Other parents felt that their children’s lack of physical contact with their romantic partners, friends and peers was potentially harmful for their well-being.
  • Several parents considered the prospect of their children attending school part-time in the future as being beneficial for their child, both academically and in terms of mental well-being.
  • Some parents and children felt that having the option to home-school and/or flexible schooling options would be beneficial.
  • A small number of parents recognised that their own negative mental health could have had a negative impact on their children.
  • Some families talked about constant financial worries due to loss of actual and potential earnings and an increase in utility and grocery bills as a result of lockdown.
  • Some parents were worried about losing their jobs and businesses as a result of lockdown.
  • Some families were spending less money during lockdown and so they were able to save more.
  • There were no parental concerns about children’s pocket or spending money since outings had been curtailed and many shops and venues were closed.
  • Some families who can be described as financially disadvantaged were often displaying positive outcomes during lockdown as a result of increased family time, leading to bonding and feelings of closeness, although financial worries were still present in these parents’ minds.
  • For those parents who were having to work harder, either because of their critical role or because of the financial risks to their businesses and livelihoods, they were spending less time with their families. This generally led to more negative outcomes for the household.
  • For families who had additional support needs, there was a general lack of support during the initial weeks of lockdown. Families perceived that they were expected to be able to manage.
  • As lockdown progressed, a small number of support services were conducting home visits whilst social distancing or utilising video conferencing calling to contact families.
  • Several BAME parents were concerned about anti-Asian and anti-ethnic hate crimes and attitudes as seen in the media and felt unsafe when they were outside of the home.
  • A minority of BAME families had experienced anti-Asian hate crime, especially when wearing face masks before the lockdown began and in the first few weeks of lockdown. Some families did not wear face masks to avoid drawing attention to themselves, despite wanting to use them for protection.
  • Many BAME parents who wore face masks were treated with suspicion and intolerance before the lockdown began. One primary school did not permit the wearing of face masks when requested by one British Chinese parent before the school closures began. Another British Chinese parent was not permitted to use a taxi when wearing a face mask.
  • Public attitudes towards face masks were said to be changing over the course of lockdown and British Chinese parents reported less fears about their use in public and encouraged their children to use them as a result.
  • Parents who were unemployed were unable to seek employment during the lockdown with financial implications for the household.
  • Single parent households we spoke to received varied levels of support and contact from the non-resident parent. Some were unsure about the non-resident parents’ visitation or child contact rights during the lockdown.
  • The absence of a separated parent’s support often led to negative outcomes for the home.
  • For parents who had limited or no English language skills, government guidance with regards to Covid-19 and the lockdown was not clear or well understood. Advice was often sought from friends and families instead.
  • Some BAME parents perceived there to be culturally distinct experiences and attitudes to viral threats which affected the way that some cultural groups responded to lockdown.
  • One British and Pakistani participant felt that there were religious and cultural reasons why BAME rates of infection were higher in their community.
  • Parents who relied upon informal support means such as grandparents for childcare and other types of support were negatively affected by the social restrictions.
  • Some disadvantaged parents had to provide support for other family members outside of the home and this created additional strains on the household in terms of finances, availability of time and childcare.
  • For some parents, keeping young children indoors was difficult especially when living in small spaces, where no garden was available or there were a lack of resources and toys at home, or the inability to purchase new play items for children.
  • Lack of personal outdoor space coupled with the closure of parks and playgrounds negatively affected several disadvantaged families who wanted to spend time outside with their children.
  • Many businesses who were able to continue their operations, did so, due to real and perceived concerns of “going under”.
  • Businesses which felt they could not operate as normal seemed to employ the furloughing strategy.
  • In rare instances, companies told workers that furlough was not an option since the company had taken a “moral stance” against it.
  • According to some parents, companies across different sectors placed unfair expectations on employees to perform at a similar or identical level as pre-lockdown times. Unsatisfactory performance levels were associated with negative performance reviews and threats of job insecurity.
  • Work related stress had a destabilising effect on the home and on family relationships.
  • Many companies were very supportive of their employees about the expectations of home working, particularly for those who had child-care responsibilities.
  • Online, virtual meetings were popular for businesses and deemed effective by workers.
  • Pre-existing doubts by businesses about the efficacy of home-working and online video meetings were now changing.
  • Some businesses were better able to adjust to the lockdown measures than others.
  • Most businesses were unprepared for the lockdown.
  • Continuity strategies were either not in place or disaster plans were ineffective.
  • For businesses with an existing working from home culture were able to transition and continue operating during the lockdown in a more efficient manner.
  • Government advice on furloughing was considered unclear during the early stages of lockdown.
  • Some businesses took on extra staff during lockdown, although social distancing was not always adhered to.
  • In some businesses social distancing was impossible but work continued.
  • In rare cases, businesses continued to function albeit in a reduced capacity, with some workers still going into the offices, despite them not being critical services.
  • Home working was a viable option for most people, whereas for others it was not possible. Even though they were not classed as critical/key workers.
  • Of those who were critical/key workers, they felt that social distancing in their workplace was not always possible or was not adhered to.
  • There were some employees who were not classed as key/critical workers that continued to go into work and were able to adhere to social distancing.
  • Parents of younger children, children with disabilities or SEN found balancing work responsibilities with childcare and home-schooling more difficult.
  • In households where both parents were working it became particularly difficult to look after children.
  • Home workers reported the use of electronic devices to occupy their children in order to get on with their work.
  • Some home workers felt guilty about the increased use of electronic devices by their children.
  • Home workers sometimes felt that not enough attention was being given to their children.
  • Other home workers felt that their children benefitted from having their parents around more.
  • Many parents were optimistic about the increased amount of contact they had with their children during the day and found that it had positive impacts on the well-being of both them and the children.
  • Many individuals expressed significant benefits to working from home. It meant they were commuting less and having more time in the day.
  • As a result of working from home, many individuals were spending more time with other family members which led to reports of improved and/or positive familial relationships.
  • For those able to work from home, some expressed increased productivity levels. This was not only based on their personal judgements but had been confirmed by their company’s performance indicators.
  • Home workers whose partners were able to look after the children during working hours seemed to have least disruption to their productivity.
  • Individuals in senior roles felt particularly pressured to continue working due to their responsibilities to the company and other members of staff. This is particularly relevant to those who had responsibilities for HR and finance.
  • Those who had recently begun new jobs, felt under pressure to “make a good impression” and to work hard during lockdown.
  • Some individuals felt that they may lose their jobs due to employer’s perceptions of reduced performance.
  • Many of the participants felt concerned that their jobs may be lost as a result of the financial pressures facing their company as a result of Covid-19 and the lockdown.
  • Several participants believed they could still perform their normal role, despite both parents working from home and both being responsible for home schooling. They felt that there were added pressures, but also benefits.
  • Some individuals who worked from home missed the social interaction of a physical work environment.
  • Some enjoyed being outside of the office environment and felt it benefitted them.
  • Some of the participants had already been home working prior to lockdown and they felt well placed to cope with the changes.
  • Some felt that colleagues without children were unsympathetic to the demands of home schooling alongside working.
  • Some participants enjoyed being furloughed and the free time to spend with their family and doing domestic jobs.
  • One participant asked to be furloughed, but their company refused.
  • Generally, people’s health and fitness has improved whilst home working, with positive impacts upon their general well-being.
  • Most are exercising more; but some are exercising less.
  • It has been positive that the weather during lockdown was generally good. People have enjoyed spending more time outdoors including exercising.
  • Quality of sleep was mixed during lockdown. Some enjoyed better quality sleep, others have lost sleep over perceived health risks of going into work (currently or imminently).
  • Diets have improved for many people. There is more home cooking with fresh ingredients, and less take-aways and meals out.
  • Alternatively, some have been eating more junk food and exercising less.
  • Some people are consuming increased levels of alcohol.
  • Lockdown has been perceived to result in less colds and viral illnesses, leading to increased productivity and ability to work.
  • Awareness of personal hygiene and preventative Covid-19 measures have increased, and this will continue after lockdown.
  • The importance of handwashing is something that people are much more aware of and are implementing regularly inside and outside of the home.
  • Anxiety about catching Covid-19 was evident.
  • Many are suffering from increased anxiety from lockdown, such as loneliness, health worries, financial worries, job security, family pressures.
  • The importance of social contact was stressed by many for positive well-being.
  • Some early years settings utilised online resources to help facilitate home learning, but not all.
  • A number of parents felt that their child had benefited from the increased level of parental attention as a result of the lockdown with positive benefits for home learning, including improved developmental outcomes for some pre-school children.
  • Parents identified schools as a cause of negative mental health outcomes for their children and thought lockdown and the home learning environment was beneficial.
  • Whilst some parents felt that their children missed school, others felt that their children were thriving at home whilst home learning.
  • During the first seven weeks of lockdown, parents whose children had either disabilities or SEN, commented on the lack of support or provision for their children whilst they were at home.
  • Parents who were critical workers did not necessarily take up a school place for their child, as their children had pre-existing health conditions which placed them at a higher risk of infection. These parents felt that the children were safest at home with them.
  • Parents of younger children, children with disabilities or with SEN found balancing work responsibilities alongside childcare and home-schooling more difficult than parents of children without additional needs.
  • Parents of children with disabilities said that they were sometimes unable to manage their children’s needs alongside their working obligations without additional support.
  • In some cases, children with SEN were not given differentiated homework and the work they were expected to do by schools was perceived to be beyond their capacity without support.
  • For those families who had additional support needs before lockdown, they often perceived that in lockdown they were expected to be able to manage without support.
  • Some parents were guided towards online resources such as websites and blogs to help them care for their children with additional needs during lockdown.
  • The difficulties some parents faced in managing their children’s additional needs alongside the expectations of their employers, resulted in increased levels of anxiety and fraught family relationships at times. For some this had a negative effect on pre-existing mental health issues.
  • Some parents who were receiving mental health support saw their support sessions end as a result of lockdown which was a concern for them.
  • Some children’s mental health support discontinued once lockdown began. This resulted in additional worries for the parents and the children concerned.
  • Some parents found that their children’s mental health impairments significantly improved as a result of lockdown, in part because either the parents felt they were able to be more attentive, but also because for some children, school was reported to be the cause of their poor mental health.
  • As lockdown progressed, a small number of support services were conducting home visits whilst social distancing. In rare instances, some utilised video conferencing calling to contact families.
  • Access to medication was a concern for parents at the very start of lockdown.
  • We did not identify any particular gender divides or gender inequalities in terms of employment whilst speaking to parents.
  • Few working women and men expressed concerns about the impact of lockdown upon their career progression.
  • Women and men who were not employed prior to lockdown, classified themselves as full time mums/dads or housewives/househusbands and felt this role to be of equal importance to the earning role. In these families, little or no change was reported in relation to family dynamics during lockdown.
  • Parents who were responsible for the home and children (housewives/househusbands), irrespective of gender, seemed to consider their roles important, essential and valuable.
  • In all families there appeared to be a negotiated balance of work and domestic responsibilities between the parents.
  • A small number of women were on maternity leave during lockdown and were concerned about issues such as job security, maternity pay and what working conditions would be like upon their return.
  • Fathers were in some cases taking on the majority of the childcare during lockdown, particularly in families where the wife/partner had the higher income. In two families, the fathers gave up employment during lockdown to become responsible for childcare and to support the mother and her employment needs.
  • Prior to lockdown some working parents of both genders had already negotiated part-time hours, flexible working or home working options so that they were able to support their children at home.
  • Most mothers and fathers reported supportive attitudes from employers when having to work from home with children in the household. In a minority of cases, parents felt unsupported by employers when trying to manage work and childcare commitments.
  • Parents of all backgrounds who were working full time hours outside of the home prior to lockdown, were generally happier to be spending more time at home and with their family.
  • Both mothers and fathers reflected on the benefits of less commuting time, which allowed more opportunity for personal and/or family related activities.
  • For both men and women, the experience of lockdown provided an opportunity to reflect on work, family and childcare priorities for the future, with the view of seeking a better balance. For some who had prioritised work previously, they now saw increased value in more family time.
  • Both genders who worked longer hours prior to lockdown, or who were focussed on their personal career development, reported feelings of stress when trying to balance previous expectations of employment with additional family responsibilities as a result of lockdown.
  • For some families, mothers and fathers attempted to take turns to work whilst the other parent looked after the children. Parents reported mixed views on the effectiveness of such approaches, with some mothers reporting less work productivity compared to fathers who sometimes reported more.
  • Some women were out of work through choice, as negotiated with their husband/partner. The long-term pre-existing objectives being for them to be permanent housewives whilst the children were growing up.
  • Parents generally shared household duties including gardening, DIY, shopping, cooking, cleaning and spending time with the children.
  • Our study seems to have identified a great deal of gender equality within the households of the parents we interviewed. Strongly gendered divisions of roles were rare and there were a number of families in which domestic roles were flexible between either the mother or the father.
  • Some mothers were particularly concerned about possible infection risks when leaving the house and/or having to take children with them to complete grocery shopping or other essential activities. In these cases, the fathers would often volunteer or agree to oversee such tasks.
  • Some fathers were very keen to be the only one leaving the house, due to worries about the virus being brought back to the children. This was supported by the mothers.
  • Our interviews suggest that mothers in general tended to be more involved in childcare both before and during lockdown. Fathers were involved in childcare to varying degrees prior to and during lockdown itself, often depending upon residential and employment status. These patterns of behaviour often began following the birth of the first child when the fathers’ received less statutory paternity leave in comparison to the mothers.
  • Some fathers were more confident than others when looking after children during lockdown, and this depended on the child’s age, needs of the child, the father-child relationship and childcare experience prior to lockdown.
  • For some working mothers, they felt that there was an imbalance of time spent on childcaring activities compared to working and non-working fathers during lockdown, with some mothers feeling that they were doing more of the childcare.
  • With regards to home-schooling, there were mixed responses regarding parental input. Some families felt that a joint parental approach was taken. In other families, one parent appeared to undertake more responsibility for home schooling than the other.
  • Most spoke of family relationships becoming stronger or closer during lockdown with increased cooperation between parents.
  • Mothers and fathers were often building new and stronger bonds with children during lockdown and as a result of changes to working hours and patterns.
  • Several BAME parents had limited or no English language skills which impacted on their ability to home school children and their understanding of tasks being sent home from schools and early years settings. In such situations, older siblings or other family relatives were often asked to assist.
  • Some BAME parents who were educated outside of the UK were unfamiliar with the National Curriculum or the Early Years Foundation Stage which led to low levels of confidence when attempting home schooling.
  • Some BAME parents were finding home schooling difficult and would benefit from further support from school or early years settings, especially if children were identified as having additional needs.
  • For several British-East-Asian parents, they were familiar with public health guidance relating to Covid-19 due to direct experience with the SARS epidemic. These families felt prepared for the lockdown and were accepting of the social restrictions imposed.
  • For parents who had limited or no English language skills, government guidance with regards to Covid-19 and the lockdown was not clear or well understood. Advice was often sought from friends and families instead.
  • Many BAME parents were critical of the government’s response to Covid-19, especially if they had experienced the SARS epidemic or when comparing the UK’s response to other Asian nations. 
  • One British-Pakistani participant felt that there were religious and cultural reasons why BAME rates of infection were higher in their community.
  • Some BAME parents perceived there to be culturally distinct experiences and attitudes to viral threats which affected the way that some cultural groups responded to Covid-19 risks and lockdown.
  • Some BAME parents felt that other countries were responding better to the threat of Coronavirus compared to the UK.
  • Some parents who had international family connections, thought that people in other countries were safer than people in the UK due to the UK’s slow government responses.
  • Several BAME parents were concerned about anti-Asian and anti-ethnic hate crimes and attitudes as seen in the media and felt unsafe when they were outside of the home.  For a small number of parents, they expressed specific concerns about the safety of their children.
  • Some British-East-Asian parents and children would avoid the use of public transport and going to certain places to avoid the possibility of any coronavirus related confrontation or attacks from others.
  • A number of British-East-Asian parents and children had experienced anti-Asian attitudes and hostility within educational settings and public spaces.
  • Other British-East-Asian parents had not experienced any negative behaviours towards them as a result of the coronavirus threat. However most had heard of someone who had.
  • Responses to anti-Asian attitudes and suspicion varied, some families would ignore remarks when made, others would take a more direct approach and challenge comments.
  • Some British-Chinese parents felt that media reporting of Covid-19 and its association with China could create or entrench existing stereotypes and discriminatory views in the UK (e.g. perceived eating habits, assumed to be Covid-19 carriers based on ethnicity).
  • British-Chinese families felt that negative remarks and assumptions about Covid-19 and its association to all people of Chinese origin were either unfounded or unfair.
  • Those who identified as British-Chinese mostly separated themselves from the attitudes and behaviours of the Chinese government.
  • British-Chinese parents were critical of the wet markets in China and perceived them to be unhygienic.
  • Some British-East-Asian parents with public facing work roles, were concerned that negative perceptions of Chinese people as a result of the Coronavirus, could have actual or possible implications for them at work.
  • Some parents felt that the UK government could be more supportive of BAME families in terms of addressing anti-Asian hate crimes and attitudes. 
  • Some BAME families did not wear face masks to avoid drawing attention to themselves, despite wanting to use them for protection.
  • Many BAME parents who wore face masks were treated with suspicion and intolerance before the lockdown began. One primary school did not permit the wearing of face masks when requested by one British-Chinese parent before the school closures began.
  • Public attitudes towards face masks were said to be changing over the course of lockdown and British-Chinese parents reported less fears about their use in public and encouraged their children to use them as a result.
  • For several BAME parents, children’s movements and exercise regimes tended to be restricted to the home environment and private garden as opposed to public spaces.
  • BAME parents seemed particularly worried about the risk of a second spike as social restrictions are eased.

Publication

UK Government commitees have accepted the research as evidence, including:

  1. Women and Equalities Committee inquiry- Unequal impact? Coronavirus and BAME people. 
  2. Women and Equalities Committee inquiry-  Unequal impact?Coronavirus, disability and access to services. 

  3. Women and Equalities Committee inquiry-  Unequal impact? Coronavirus and the gendered economic impact. 

  4. Education Committee’s inquiry into the impact of Covid 19 on education and children’s services.

  5. Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee’s inquiry into the impact of coronavirus on businesses and workers.

See more coverage of the study's findings, on the Leeds Trinity news page: "Covid-19 study reveals positive impacts on family dynamics and wellbeing".

Read this article on the website Nursery World, Coronavirus: Parents report closer bonds developing with children in lockdown".

If you would like to feature the study or speak to the researchers for broadcase or print, please email the research team.

Research team

Carmen Clayton is Reader in Family and Cultural Dynamics. Carmen’s research interests revolve around young people, families and childhood with specific expertise concerning young fatherhood, migration, ethnicity, and culture. She has been researching children, young people, and families since 2006, with various research funding grants awarded by the ESRC (Economic Social Research Council), Research England and others.

Marie Potter is a Senior Lecturer specialising in Childhood, Early Learning and Development Studies and is also Programme Coordinator for the MA Childhood and Education. She has considerable practical experience, working with, and supporting children and their families from a range of backgrounds and circumstances. She is currently member of the Advisory Committee for the Leeds Early Years Network. 

Rafe Clayton is a visiting academic in film practice at Leeds Arts University and is undertaking research at the University of York into the relationship between smart phones and mobile devices for media consumption. He is particularly interested in the creative uses of technology by families during the government lockdown, including how apps, tablets, phones, and other devices are impacting family dynamics, work life, socialising, and home schooling.

Contact the research team

For all enquiries relating to the study including press and publication please email the team.

Email the research team