The Social Policy Association Executive Committee wish to express our concerns about the pressures being placed on our members, along with other academics, policy-makers, practitioners and researchers, during the Covid-19 pandemic. We call on all Higher Education Institutions and other organisations employing social policy staff to take concrete actions to reduce those pressures, and the unequal distribution of those pressures, wherever possible.
It is nearly a year since Covid-19 started to impact on our lives and, during this time, social policy research has played a vital role in highlighting inequalities in the nature of that impact nationally and internationally, not least in relation to ‘race’ and ethnicity, gender, social class, place and so on. Social policy researchers and practitioners have also put forward important policy proposals to mitigate that impact.
At the same time as carrying out this important work, many in our field have faced additional pressures themselves, for example, to adapt their teaching to fit in with the various lockdown situations we have found ourselves in. And we know that these pressures have affected people differently with additional pressures faced by those with particular health conditions or responsibilities for home learning and other caring responsibilities. In addition, some colleagues, particularly those in temporary positions, have faced losing their jobs. In this respect, our own field of work is vulnerable to the same structural inequalities as wider society.
With this in mind, the Social Policy Association Executive wishes to reaffirm our core values of ‘care and collegiality’. We recognise the vital importance of paid and unpaid care work and will continue to seek ways to support our members and the broader field as the pandemic continues to take its toll on us as well as the wider world. We aim to do this through strengthening our support for our PGR and early career researcher network, continuing with our Opportunity Grants to provide support for networking, and drawing on our Social Policy Convenors’ Group as a forum for sharing concrete ideas for tackling these issues. But we are keen to hear more from our members about how we can support them further and so encourage our members to get in touch with us with their ideas by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
We also call, in particular, for Higher Education Institutions and other organisations to embody principles of care and collegiality in concrete ways to support their staff during this time. The pressures are considerable and unequally distributed. HEIs and other employers must do more to acknowledge this and consider appropriate ways to support their staff as these pressures continue.