The team

The Covid Realities team is made up of researchers from the universities of York and Birmingham; colleagues from partner Child Poverty Action Group and our web developer, Tom.

Ruth Patrick

I live in Bradford with my four young children, husband, Martin, and cat. Lockdown has left me feeling exhausted and missing these three things (in no particular order): pubs, swimming and her parents (who live in Scotland). I lead the project and work at the University of York. I hope that the project will bring together people with all sorts of different expertise; and create new understanding of relationships between poverty, social security and experiences during the pandemic. 

Maddy Power 

I’m a researcher at the University of York and I live in the city with my partner. I really appreciated the reduction in traffic and pollution during lockdown, but I miss my family in London and Sweden, and the sea! I am leading the Covid Realities app, through which parents and carers can share their experiences. I hope that the project will provide an opportunity for families to share their experiences with each other and to tell policy makers what life is like for many people during this time.

Kayleigh Garthwaite

I work at the University of Birmingham but live with my husband Craig in a former pit village in County Durham. During lockdown, I’ve missed having a cup of tea and watching Tipping Point with my 93 year old Gran. I’m also gutted that I’ve haven’t been able to go to Elland Road to watch Leeds United! My hope is that this project provides a space for families and researchers to connect, so that together we can do our best to influence policy and practice to help people who are on a low-income in the future.

Geoff Page

I’m Geoff Page. I live in York with two Labradors, a five year old, and a seriously receding hairline. I moved house on the first day of lockdown - and together with the closing of schools, this has made for a hectic month or three! I hope this project will, first of all, feel like a valuable presence in the lives of people who give their time to it! I hope everyone gets something back. Secondly, understanding people’s real, lived problems and looking to support some real world impact would be fantastic - the voices within this project should be heard, and if this leads to changes that make life easier for everyone who’s struggling then that would be awesome.

Kelly-Marie Jones

I run the Early Warning System (EWS) for Child Poverty Action Group, which gathers real case studies to show how social security changes affect people’s lives.I grew up in poverty and eventually qualified as a legal aid solicitor. In my career, I've supported people from all backgrounds who are going through the benefits system, and now I'm trying to change the system for the better. I live in North London, with my fiancé and baby daughter. Lockdown has been a bit of a blessing for me as I've been able to remain close to my daughter whilst working from home (with the help of amazing grandmas!) I hope Covid Realities will persuade decision makers to consider evidence-led solutions to poverty, particularly in light of the challenges faced by so many during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dan Norris

I’m Dan, head of advice and rights at CPAG and frustrated arctic explorer. I live in Enfield, north London with my wife Mirca and our two sons Joe and Jake. During the lockdown I have missed going on a canoe trip down the Klarälven river in Sweden with my son Joe. I hope that this project provides a clear picture of the impact that COVID-19 related changes to the social security system have had on UK families. This was we can learn about how the system could be improved, post lockdown.

Tom Flannery

I live in Cornwall with my partner and two little ones. So far lockdown has been quiet, but I am longing to see my family, some of whom are in Wales and some of whom live outside London. I am helping to build the app and website and create some of the project’s design.

Sophie Howes 

I’m the Senior Policy and Research Officer at CPAG. I live in Leytonstone, East London, with my boyfriend Tom - through we have just moved house and I am currently surrounded by boxes. ​Swimming is the thing I missed the most during lockdown and cannot wait for public pools to re-open. I work in the policy team at CPAG, so my role is to get the findings of this project to the doors of policy makers and those in government. By documenting the experiences of low income families during the pandemic, I hope this project will help ensure that they don’t get left out of any recovery measures the government puts in place.

Rosie Mears

I’m a Welfare Rights Adviser at CPAG. I live in East London with my partner. I feel fortunate that my main complaints about lockdown are around not being able to see family and friends rather than anything more serious. On this project, I’m working with my colleague Kelly-Marie on the Early Warning System, which is a database of submissions of evidence from welfare rights advisers. I hope that this project provides an up-to-date picture of people’s varied experiences so that we can document the need for amendments to our social security system to protect as many people as possible. While a lot of the challenges are new, other gaps in our social security system were there well before the pandemic but now their effects are being felt more severely and by more people.

Tom Lee 

I’m a Senior Policy Analyst at Child Poverty Action Group. I have just moved to a new flat in London with my partner. I have found not playing any sports in lockdown hard – both for the physical and social side. I’m responsible for data work around the extent and depth of child poverty. I hope this project will raise awareness of the extent of child poverty in the UK as well as providing workable solutions that would benefit the millions of families that are struggling to get by right now.

Louisa McGeehan

I'm supporting Child Poverty Action Group’s contribution to the project – bringing evidence from our Early Warning System and data analysis to help build a picture of what has been happening to families during the pandemic and in its aftermath. I live in North London with my partner and new puppy, Felix the wire-haired dachshund. My two kids have grown up and left home, but I’m happy they are still nearby. Lockdown has been tough – I’ve been shielding so I’ve missed family and friends and contact with the outside world.

During the Covid-19 pandemic we have all been in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat. As someone who grew up in poverty, I believe it’s important to listen to people’s experiences of how their lives have been affected by the pandemic and its response. I hope the project will help us do just that.

If you’d like to get in touch, please use the contact page and somebody will get back to you as soon as possible.

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