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Oxford Brookes to research impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable young people

People aged 16+ who are currently being helped by UK children's charity Barnardo's will be involved.

The Institute of Public Care (IPC) at Oxford Brookes University is partnering with Barnardo’s to examine the experiences of vulnerable young people as they transition to adulthood.

The research project will explore what supports and hinders a more positive transition to adulthood and the extent to which the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on this. 

Experts will carry out up to 200 in depth interviews for the study.

The findings could help shape policies that respond to the specific needs of this generation, according to Barnardo's.

Katy Burch, Assistant Director at the Institute of Public Care, who is leading the research said: “Vulnerable young people often face additional challenges in transitioning to adulthood, for example because of language or cultural barriers, disability, or adverse experiences during childhood.

"It’s important to understand to what extent and how the Covid-19 pandemic has accentuated these difficulties or not, or generated other issues. We also want to understand the impact of pre-pandemic and Covid-related resilience factors on young people’s journeys into adulthood. Our research will help all organisations working with young adults to understand their experiences and support them effectively.”

The research will build on a Barnardo’s study in May 2020 titled Devalued, which was based on interviews with 113 young people and showed that the first national COVID-19 lockdown resulted in immense challenges for some of them. Many felt less supported, struggling with boredom, a lack of routine and social contact. Young people also expressed a vision for a more equal, caring and understanding world, with greater accountability for those in positions of power, and more attention to the environmental crisis.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: “Many of the young people we support struggle with the transition to adulthood. There is often a ‘cliff edge’ when they can no longer access services for children, for instance when it comes to mental health.”

“This timely research is an opportunity to hear directly from young people, and to gain insight into how COVID has affected them.

“We have long warned that for children, the impact of the pandemic could last a lifetime. Our research will look at exactly how they have coped and what kind of help they need. We hope this will assist decision makers in designing policies that respond to the specific needs of this generation, so young people have the best possible chance of achieving a positive future.”

The research will start in Summer 2021 and run until Autumn 2022.

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