Skip to main content
Media centre

Build social capital to combat Covid

24 January 2022

 

The development of community relationship networks are crucial to the success of a post-Covid recovery, a major study by Teesside University has revealed.

Transporter Bridge
Transporter Bridge

The research carried out with residents of Middlesbrough also demonstrates that a locally based response to the pandemic is likely to have much more impact.

Over the course of five months starting in October 2020, researchers from the University carried out a series of interviews with residents of Middlesbrough to examine their perspective of the pandemic and investigate what a successful recovery might look like.

The research was funded by Middlesbrough Council and paid particular attention to the views of younger and older residents as well as those from BAME communities.

Following the interviews, the evidence was collated and analysed and an abstract of the report has been published in world-leading medical journal The Lancet. Its findings have also been discussed in a blog on the website of the Centre for Progressive Policy.

The research team led by Dr Andrew Divers, a Senior Research Manager in the Alcohol and Public Health Team (TeamALPHA) at Teesside University, has made a series of recommendations to the council on how it should pursue its COVID recovery strategy.

Chief among the recommendations is the importance of developing community relationship networks, known as social capital, and the positive impact these had on people throughout the pandemic.

Examples cited within the report include physical support from the local authority and charities as well as community groups set up on social media throughout the pandemic.

Other recommendations include prioritising peoples’ mental health particularly among young people; developing a strategy that is tailored to the needs of the local community; clear communications which avoids direct instructions and gives people a sense of autonomy, and the need for a greater understanding of precisely why people are mistrustful of official information.

The in-depth work with Teesside University has been really important in giving us a detailed sense of how the pandemic has affected different groups and how we can work with those groups to support our recovery from Covid.

South Tees Joint Director of Public Health Mark Adams.

Dr Divers said: “The coronavirus pandemic was an unprecedented event which has led to wholescale disruption of people’s lives.

“By collating and analysing the views of a variety of residents about how they were impacted by the pandemic, this research helps identify the barriers to a successful recovery.

“We anticipate that these findings will be of enormous help both regionally and national as the UK begins to rebuild its post-Covid society.”

South Tees Joint Director of Public Health Mark Adams said: “Throughout the pandemic we have sought to work with people to help them to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe. This has included the development of our Covid Champions network and working with local community groups to ensure our messages reach those we are seeking to support. We’ve also tried to understand what the issues are in communities and how we might need to adapt our approach.

“The in-depth work with Teesside University has been really important in giving us a detailed sense of how the pandemic has affected different groups and how we can work with those groups to support our recovery from Covid.

“By working closely with different organisations and finding the answers to difficult situations alongside them, we can improve the way we deliver all kinds of services, not just those impacted by Covid. This research will be incredibly useful for us as we strive to provide the best possible service to residents regardless of their background.”


In the News

"Build social capital to combat Covid"
North East Chamber of Commerce, Web, 24/01/2022
The development of community relationship networks are crucial to the success of a post-Covid recovery, a major study by Teesside University has revealed.