Landmark COVID-19 citizen-science project project launched

HOME 5 News 5 Landmark COVID-19 citizen-science project project launched
8 Apr, 2020
  • The Young Foundation launches landmark new project to capture social impact of the coronavirus on individuals and communities across the UK 
  • We need to understand how this generation-defining moment impacts the future of community life and wellbeing in the UK – says CEO 
  • Citizens of all ages invited to share their day-to-day experiences of pandemic via online platform over the next three months, creating a rich digital archive of life during a pandemic 
  • Citizen science a robust and safe way to engage people during social isolation 
  • Project developed in partnership with The Open University and delivered via specialist nQuire platform


Health and wellbeing, access to social services, jobs and paycheques, mortgages and rent payments and even weddings are all being disrupted by the coronavirus Covid-19. But, what do we really know about the impact of these changes on individuals and our communities in the UK? How will social isolation impact individual wellbeing? What does a national crisis tell us about the resilience of our communities? Where are the examples of solidarity, connection and community support emerging? Where are people finding help when they need it? What will the long-term impact of this generation-defining moment be on the future of UK society?

These are just some of the issues being explored in a new landmark citizen science project — COVID-19 and Me — being launched today (7 April) by The Young Foundation, a UKRI accredited research institute focused on developing better connected and stronger communities across the UK. Developed in partnership with The Open University and hosted on the organisation’s bespoke nQuire platform, the UK general public (over 18s) are being asked to sign up as citizen scientists to share their day-to-day, real-time experience of the pandemic with a team of social researchers.

The study is underpinned by two types of opt-in “missions” on the nQuire platform – one confidential mission, where data shared can only be used anonymously for research purposes, and one social mission meaning that data and stories shared will be available for anyone to view and download. Depending on the choice of mission, participants will answer a series of questions online and be asked to share examples, photos and views on what they are seeing and experiencing in their communities. Content in the form of text and photos can be shared with consent, creating a rich archive of content about life during a pandemic.

Helen Goulden, CEO of The Young Foundation, said: “We are in unprecedented times and this research will be critical to our understanding of how the Covid-19 pandemic is fundamentally and dynamically changing all of our lives. For the first time in history, the lived experience of a viral pandemic in communities will be documented and captured for future generations. The resulting research will form an important digital archive of how the communities responded to this generation-defining moment in time. To really understand what the impact of Covid-19 will be on UK society and community life we need to hear from you. This could be the biggest social citizen project ever in the UK!”

Professor Anne Adams, Professor of Engaged Practice and Research at The Open University, said: “Within this current Covid-19 crisis it is important to gain as much insight to help us combat problems both for this emergency and for our future needs. A critical part of this understanding is the important experiences of people across the country. It is far too easy for decisions to be made based upon numbers without a nuanced understanding of how important different issues are to everyday people, across the country. This piece of citizen research will deliver equity in evidence for decision-makers by enabling a balanced national perspective on priorities based upon peoples’ practices and experiences.”

Commenting on the launch, Programme Director, Lindsey Brummitt at Eden Project Communities, a supporter of the UK-wide initiative, said: “It is clear COVID-19 will have a huge impact on society and our communities. This research programme, led by the Young Foundation, will make sure we better understand what that impact will be and enable us all to find the right solutions to ensure communities are best placed to face the inevitable changes that this virus will have on our neighbourhoods. ”

The missions will be live on nQuire for three months.

Resulting insights will be compiled and published on nQuire and on The Young Foundation website, alongside first-person stories from around the UK, in summer 2020. A deeper analysis of the data will go on to contribute to a wider research study into the long-term impacts of a society changed by contagion. To sign-up to this qualitative study, potential participants are asked to register with The Young Foundation directly via:


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About The Young Foundation: The Young Foundation is a charity based in London, focussed on developing better connected and stronger communities across the UK. We are a UKRI accredited research institute. We work nationally, regionally and locally in alliance with our many partners and funders. Since 1954, we have developed and created over 80 organisations to target unmet social needs, including: Which?, The Open University, Language Line, Social Innovation Exchange, School for Social Entrepreneurs, Uprising and Action for Happiness.

About The Open University: The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 2 million students worldwide and has over 170,000 current students, including more than 7,000 overseas. Over 76% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and three out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses. In the latest assessment exercise for university research, nearly three quarters (72%) of OU research was assessed as 4 or 3 star – the highest ratings available, awarded to research that is world-leading or internationally excellent. The OU is unique among UK universities having both an access mission and demonstrating research excellence.

Regarded as the UK’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units, as well as games, videos and academic articles, which have reached over 36 million people. For further information please visit The Open University