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Understanding Southwark during COVID-19 Reports

Learn more about findings from a detailed study conducted with local residents during the covid-19 pandemic by researchers from Social Life (Published 6 January 2022)

In Spring 2020 Social Life started speaking to Southwark residents, community organisations and agencies to explore how people were experiencing their daily lives against the backdrop of the pandemic, and how experiences of COVID-19 were affecting how people thought about change in their local areas. The research was supported by Southwark Council.

They are now delighted to publish the reports of this research. These are based on 520 street interviews, conversations with 162 stakeholders and 90 traders, and 45 indepth interviews with residents, carried out between April 2020 and August 2021.

Social Life looked closely at six areas going through change, at the experiences of young people and other groups that were sharply affected by the pandemic. They were keen to hear the stories of how people from different backgrounds and life circumstances were coping with this extraordinary time.

The research reveals how problems that existed before March 2020 were amplified by the impact of the pandemic, highlighting both the inequalities already present across Southwark but also the valuable assets that supported communities during crisis. The pandemic exacerbated food poverty, with the sudden loss of employment or inability to work adding to the economic precarity that many families across the borough already faced.

In the first months of the pandemic, existing and new networks and groups mobilised community resources to support people who were struggling financially and with their wellbeing. This collective effort ensures that people in need were supported and the situation also triggered the emergence of dynamic networks of support. However, by summer 2021 there were reports of a decrease in volunteering and more fears were articulated that “the new normal” will erase the role local support groups played during the first months of the pandemic.

These and many other issues are at the heart of the accounts you can find in the reports. The voices of the people and groups Social Life spoke to can be heard throughout their pages, highlighting both local resourcefulness and challenges. They hope these voices will shed light on how we can build an equitable and sustainable COVID-19 recovery and fairer approaches to change across the borough.

To find out more, read our reports: