1000 Voices Report: Community Experiences of the COVID-19 Pandemic from the North West


VSNW are pleased to share the publication of their latest reports: “1000 Voices: Cheshire & Merseyside”, and “1000 Voices: Lancashire and Cumbria” in collaboration with NHS England – North West.

These reports detail and summarise 800 first-hand accounts and experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic collected from specific communities across Cheshire & Merseyside and Lancashire & Cumbria, with 400 “voices” collected from each region. This research forms part of a wider programme of work developed by NHS England – North West to better understand the experiences of the pandemic by communities across the North West including how gaps in health inequalities have widened and to develop recommendations for current and future working. The remainder of the 1000 voices (200) were collected separately in other areas.

For the Cheshire & Merseyside projects, specific communities were identified by NHS England – North West and chosen via local intelligence to focus on people from backgrounds and demographics most marginalised and exposed to the impacts of COVID-19 in those areas:

Cheshire & Merseyside

o   People who do not have English as a first language

o   People who are digitally excluded

o   People living in the most deprived areas as measured by the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD).

o   People over 55 who are not in education, employment or training.

To access the Cheshire & Merseyside 1000 Voices Report click here.

Here is a summary of the findings for Sefton:

The total number of voices collected in Sefton was 39, with an even split across all 4 cohorts.

Similar to other areas, overwhelmingly negative responses were captured in the Sefton group of respondents. Isolation and GP access were top responses, along with the feeling of hopelessness with nothing at all being “good”.

The support provided by voluntary and community groups was praised again, with 18% of respondents relaying this with 10% also praising social prescribing services.

Two respondents stated they had no access to digital equipment throughout lockdown, with one respondent stated that they were being left behind.

One respondent stated that they had developed a drinking problem over the course of the pandemic, and in contrast another respondent stated their drinking problem had been “solved” due to the pubs being closed. These contrasting experiences, with some recalling the positive sides of the pandemic compared to the worse, show just how experiences of the pandemic are individual and nuanced.

Warren Escadale, Chief Executive of VSNW said:

“The learning about the unequal impact of the pandemic reflects long term inequalities. These voices need to be heard. As the new health equalities framework, Core20PLUS5, is rolled out these lessons need to be at the forefront of service review and design.

In many ways, the pandemic gave us a preview of what an online world could look like and how it can go wrong. We need to use these lessons to inform our consideration of what does and does not work so we don’t repeat our mistakes.”

The voices collected are extremely insightful into the lives of those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and the subsequent pandemic impacts that many of these communities are still dealing with. They are also heart-breaking, frustrating and yet in some cases, despite everything, hopeful.

The voices, experiences and recommendations detailed within this report will be shared with the newly developed Integrated Care Boards across the North West to influence the design of services and to ensure that our most vulnerable and marginalised communities are put at the very heart of strategy and service development.