Case Studies / Youth Futures Foundation

Understanding ethnic inequalities in the impacts of COVID-19 on young people

The Brief

– To understand ethnic inequalities in the impact of COVID-19 on young people’s (aged 16 to 25) lives

– To understanding how best to support diverse young people in education, training and employment to mitigate the impacts on COVID-19 on that cohort

Our approach

Versiti’s team assembled and trained a team of diverse young people to act as peer researchers. Over a period of two weeks, 70 carefully-selected young people from seven ethnic groups took part in online research exploring all dimensions of their lives, feeding back on existing programmes and co-creating a package of support to ensure the pandemic does not limit their life chances in the long-term.


The final report highlighted the toll COVID-19 is taking on diverse young people’s mental health, education, work, employment prospects, and home life. It identified the depth and breadth of support needed – from central and local government, charities and the private sector – to ensure that young people do not become the ‘lost cohort’ and that ethnic inequalities are not widened by the pandemic.

Lessons from adopting a peer-led approach were presented at the MRS Impact Conference 2021. The session can be accessed here.

See MRS presentation

Sope Otulana

Head of Research

Youth Futures Foundation

“This project strengthens the case for including those with expertise through experience in delivering research. We asked the question ‘Whose voice matters?’ and have privileged the type of information that you only get by engaging with young people more directly, and gaining views about their whole life, in their own words. We have integrated this with more standard or robust types of data, to paint a more nuanced picture of young people’s experience and speak better to how policy and practice can support them into employment during this crucial time. Designing research in a way that gives young people a seat at the table gave them a chance to shift the narrative about young people: what they have to offer, their resilience and potential to add value to society and their future workplaces.”

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