Researchers at University of Glasgow have conducted a study into the impact of Covid-19 on marginalised groups of people in Scotland.

The study focuses on four groups who were already excluded even before the pandemic, and looks at how Covid-19 has worsened their isolation from wider society.

In possibly the largest completed study of its kind in Scotland, researchers spent six months studying the lockdown experiences of people in the asylum system or with refugee status facing destitution; people in prison and otherwise affected by criminal justice systems including families; survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence; and people with disabilities or living with a long-term health condition.

The research finds common issues across all these marginalised group including various forms of digital exclusion and a build-up of mental health damage to individuals.

For people in the asylum system or with refugee status, the research found that:

  • People were moved into hotel rooms which was experienced as akin to detention and was detrimental to mental health
  • Food drops addressed real hunger and security issues but also reduced autonomy, social access and raised cultural appropriateness issues.
  • Covid restrictions collided with migration restrictions to constrain and control this group in particularly intense ways

We supported this research, following our own short study into the impact of Covid-19 on refugees and the people supporting them conducted in July 2020.

The study will be launched at a webinar this morning at 11am.

Gary Christie, Head of Policy at Scottish Refugee Council:

“Covid-19 has revealed the deep lines of inequality and exclusion which we know have existed in our society for a long time. It has been a traumatic year in Glasgow, as Covid restrictions and hostile environment policies combined to make life extremely difficult for people seeking safety here. We know from our own study that people are experiencing loneliness, food poverty and digital exclusion, and that local communities are stepping in admirably where the state is failing.

“But people need more than just food packages and donated laptops. Existing restrictive immigration policies and poor decision making on asylum support and asylum decisions by the Home Office has made Covid-19 and lockdown even worse for people seeking safety. People must be allowed to work and to access support, not forced into the margins and long-term institutional accommodation. The deep inequalities that Covid-19 has revealed must be addressed, because the pandemic has proven how connected we all are, and everybody in our society must be kept safe in order for us all to be safe.”


Chris Afuakwah
Author: Chris Afuakwah