Researchers from the Universities of Bath and Roehampton are seeking working couples in the London Boroughs of Wandsworth and Richmond to take part in a new research project investigating how couples have coped with the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The researchers would like to interview a wide range of couples representing different age ranges, ethnic groups, socio-economic backgrounds and parental status.
Inequalities in society have been starkly exposed in the pandemic with some much better placed to withstand the difficulties created in employment, education and health than others. The researchers hope the project will enable them to make recommendations to local authorities and employers to aid social justice.
They want to interview people to learn about the changes in their working and family lives; how their employers have responded to the pandemic; and their access to local services and support.
“Working couples, especially those with children or caring responsibilities, are used to juggling multiple responsibilities but of course the pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges,” said Dr Mayra Ruiz-Castro from the University of Roehampton’s Business School.
“They have had to keep on top of their job at home or going out to work, alongside quickly adapting to new routines, schedules and technologies, re-evaluating priorities, negotiating responsibilities as a couple, and trying to stay healthy and financially afloat. And all of this mostly without the support of relatives, friends and local services, curtailed during lockdown,” Ruiz-Castro said.
“These changes have potential implications for mental health and physical wellbeing, as well as how couples divide up tasks and the dynamics in their relationship,” said Dr Deborah Brewis from the University of Bath’s School of Management.
The researchers are also keen to hear from representatives of local service centres and charities offering family, children, adult social care, employment and health support services in Wandsworth and Richmond to gain an in-depth understanding of the resources and support available to working couples during the pandemic.
“Talking to couples and local representatives will give us a clear, evidence-based picture to respond to current debates on gender, race and class inequality in the Covid crisis,” Brewis said.
Couples will be interviewed together for approximately 90 minutes by Zoom or phone, and will be offered compensation of £40 per couple for their time. Participants will be invited to hear about the project findings in a webinar hosted by the University of Roehampton in the summer, along with local representatives, the wider Wandsworth and Richmond community, and academics.
The research is funded by Research and Innovation (UKRI) Strategic Priorities Fund, which supports universities to work in partnership with policymakers, to better understand local, regional or national challenges.
For more information on the study and how to take part visit the Working Couples Research website