Income, ethnic diversity and family life in East London during the first wave of the pandemic: An assets approach
Keywords:assets based approach, families, young children
Objective: This paper reports first results from a survey of 992 parents and parents to be living in an ethnically diverse and socio-economically unequal borough of East London during the coronavirus pandemic that reduced mobility, closed services and threatened public health.
Background: Little is known about the place based impacts of the pandemic on families with young children. We describe the living circumstances of families with children under five or expecting a baby living in Tower Hamlets during the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, and then examine the relative importance of household characteristics such as ethnicity and household income for adverse impacts on survey respondents, as seen in mental health outcomes.
Method: a community survey sample recruited with support from the local council comprised 75% mothers/pregnant women, 25% fathers/partners of pregnant women. Reflecting the borough population, 35 percent were White British or Irish and 36 percent were Bangladeshi, and the remainder were from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. Adopting an assets based approach, we describe material, familial and community assets using three household income bands and seven ethnic groups. We then use regressions to identify which assets were most important in mitigating adversity.
Results: We find that material assets (income, employment, food insecurity, housing quality) were often insecure and in decline but familial assets (home caring practices, couple relationships) were largely sustained. Community assets (informal support, service provision) were less available or means of access had changed. Our analyses find that while descriptively ethnicity structured adverse impacts of the pandemic related changes to family life, income and couple relationships were the most important assets for mitigating adversity as seen in mental health status.
Conclusion: Supporting family assets will require close attention to generating local and decent work as well as enhancing access to community assets.