UKRI announces £4.5 million for four new projects on the impact of COVID on ethnic minority groups

Four new projects will receive a total of £4.5 million in funding to research how and why people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is funding the research via the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), which aims to help ‘lessen the effect’ of the pandemic on communities across the UK.

UKRI says the work will ‘plug’ current research gaps by supporting two large consortia projects, alongside two smaller ones. All will be co-designed or co-produced by people from Ethnic Minority backgrounds.

The chosen projects are wide in breadth but areas of focus include mental health and wellbeing. The four research projects are:

  • ‘The social, cultural and economic impacts of the pandemic on ethnic and racialised groups in Britain’ (£2.2 million), led by Professor Bridget Byrne of the University of Manchester.
  • ‘Consortium of Practices for Wellbeing and Resilience in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Families and Communities’ (£2 million), led by Professor Iyiola Solanke at the University of Leeds.
  • ‘Religious community organisations’ interventions around the impact of coronavirus on Muslims in Birmingham in post-COVID Britain’ (£130,00), led by Birmingham City University’s Dr Damian Breen.
  • ‘A collaborative approach to understand and remediate the impact of COVID-19 on mental health in BAME communities: a pilot study’ (£235,000), led by Valentina Cardi of King’s College London.

Professor Iyiola Solanke told the UKRI: “There are two viruses affecting people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities across the UK. One is COVID-19 and the other is discrimination.

“We want to illustrate that the way in which COVID-19 is exacerbating the experience of inequality for those in these communities.

“The people in these communities have developed new strategies to promote their own wellbeing and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, but given the ongoing nature…official interventions are also needed to support them.”

The UKRI reports that during the first wave of the pandemic, people from some Ethnic Minority groups were more likely to “be infected, diagnosed and die” than white ethnic groups, as well as to experience “above average increases in mental distress”.

While the quartet of studies will investigate both direct and indirect consequences of the pandemic on these groups – focusing on social, cultural and economic impacts – the findings will be used to design future health interventions and policy recommendations.

Find out more about the projects and funding at