Academics awarded £160k to research COVID-19 impact on Birmingham’s Muslim communities

New research by social scientists at Birmingham City University will explore the impact of coronavirus on Muslims in Birmingham and community-led responses to the pandemic.

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Academics Dr Damian Breen and Professor Imran Awan will research the effects of COVID-19 on Birmingham’s minority ethnic Muslim communities, particularly those of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian and black British backgrounds, whilst also researching the role of mosques and other community organisations in facilitating religious rituals and practices, such as deaths and burials.

The majority of the study’s funding (£130k) comes from UK Research and Innovation via the Economic and Social Research Council, which will see Breen and Awan develop toolkits for use across minority ethnic communities in Britain to provide strategies for responding to community needs in times of crisis.

“We’ll be examining how community organisations have provided support and offered interventions around impacts specific to Muslim communities within the context of COVID -19,” explained Breen, a senior lecturer at Birmingham City University’s School of Social Sciences.

“We’ll also be speaking to Muslim communities to explore perceptions around state responses, including access to healthcare during the pandemic and national strategies around vaccination.”

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, added: “We cannot ignore the social, cultural and economic factors that have shaped the experiences of BAME communities throughout the pandemic.

“Emerging evidence suggests that people from BAME backgrounds have experienced the hardest economic shocks. It’s crucial that we understand the depth and breadth of the impacts of these factors so that we can take action to alleviate the consequences for these communities.”

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