Households in the UK, more than any other Western European country, are being hit particularly hard by the increased energy prices and cost of living. Moreover, the cost burden is largely taken on by the most deprived households in the country, with even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expressing concerns about this.
It is against this backdrop that this project was developed by Impact on Urban Health and Centric in order to document the experiences of financial precarity and increases in the cost of living on people from Black and ethnic minority communities at risk, or/and living with multiple long-term conditions (MLTCs) in Lambeth and Southwark, two London boroughs which have significant levels of deprivation.
With the findings of this research we are looking to influence the responses of stakeholders and then inform tangible interventions to reduce the progression to MLTCs within these communities. But more importantly, this work is about giving a voice to those who are often overlooked in traditional research.
For this research project we focused on Lambeth & Southwark residents from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds who are dealing with multiple long-term health conditions. Our aim was to understand how our participants were coping with the increased cost of living and if and how this was having an effect on their physical and mental health. We selected a team of Community Researchers from a range of demographic backgrounds which would allow us to use their personal and professional networks to identify and approach potential participants.
Talking about finances and health conditions is often considered a taboo in Black and ethnic minority communities. We therefore anticipated that there could be hesitation from participants to take part in this research and to really open up about their personal circumstances.
We brainstormed as a team with the aim to identify potential objections and discuss these to help prepare our Community Researcher to address these objections when speaking with people in their networks. With this approach we were able to conduct 40 one-to-one interviews, exceeding our target of 35 interviews, with participants speaking openly and honestly about their health and current financial pressures allowing us to capture some rich insights.
Online & In-Person Focus Groups
Focus groups are a great way to open up conversations and dive deeper into insights obtained from the one-to-one interviews. We initially planned one online and one in-person focus group to accommodate everyone in an accessible manner. Due to oversubscription on our online focus groups, we decided to add another online session. In total 45 participants participated in these three sessions facilitated by our Community Researchers, allowing for open and conversations about their individual circumstances.
Insights & Discussion Event
As a community-focused organisation we feel it is important to disseminate our research and insights to our communities in accessible ways. We also recognise the importance of bringing together local communities and institutions for open and honest dialogue that will lead to better informed interventions and decision making. With this in mind, we decided to organise an event at the end of the project to present back our findings to the community and relevant stakeholders which led to meaningful discussions.
As our research was conducted at the start of the winter, we feel that it’s important to get the full picture by ensuring that we also capture the actual winter period itself. We will therefore be approaching a range of relevant stakeholders to seek a further and larger extension to this research around April 2023. Conversations for this are currently underway.
We are also working with a range of partners to test some of our recommendations to ensure that our research is followed by meaningful action. More around this will be made public soon so make sure you sign up to our newsletter to find out more.
Interested in working with us? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to the attention of Sylvana Walcott.