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The Ask, Listen, Act project team won the Tackling Health Inequalities award at the North West Coast Research and Innovation Awards 2023.

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Project revealing scale of pandemic impact on children and young people with SEND wins award

June 23, 2023

Research revealing children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) were affected by the pandemic has won a North West Coast Research and Innovation award.

The Ask, Listen, Act project, a multi–disciplinary study undertaken by academics from Edge Hill University, Liverpool John Moores University, and the University of Liverpool, won the Tackling Health Inequalities award at the North West Coast Research and Innovation Awards 2023. 

The awards showcase the best research and innovation from NHS organisations, industry and academic partners, third sector organisations, local authorities and other collaborators in health innovation, with winners announced at ceremony held at The Spire in Liverpool.

Lucy Bray, a Professor of Child Health Literacy at Edge Hill University, was among the team of researchers involved in the study.  

An image of the Postgraduate Research Student Tutor, Professor Lucy Bray. There is greenery in the background of the image.

“We are pleased to have this important piece of work recognised. The project highlighted the inequalities children with SEND often face within health, education and social care systems.

“We were privileged to get to hear from children and young people with SEND, their parents and the professionals who support them during what was a very difficult time for families.

“The priorities for policy and practice we co-developed are already starting to inform provision and we continue to build on this work.”

Professor Lucy Bray

The research found many suffered isolation and had their access to education, health services and social, emotional and mental health support disrupted or withdrawn. 

Stark inequalities that existed before the pandemic, along with limitations in the provision of services for children with SEND, were exacerbated following the announcement of the first lockdown in March 2020.

Education, mental health and social care services were downgraded or, in some cases, withdrawn altogether.

Researchers reviewed existing evidence, and surveyed children, parents, carers and professionals including education staff, health and social care staff and those working within the local authority.

They also held workshops in schools and within charitable organisations, where they met children and young people with SEND, parents/carers and professionals to gather their views.

The team used a variety of methods to make sure the views and opinions of children and young people with SEND, their parents and professionals informed the study. 

The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research‘s (NIHR) Policy Research Programme (Recovery, Renewal, Reset: Research to inform policy responses to COVID-19 funding stream) in May 2021. 

June 23, 2023


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