About Communities 2020

About Communities 2020

What is the purpose of the Communities 2020 project?

This research project aims to tell the story of community organising in the UK during the COVID-19 crisis. The idea is that the study could help to offer an understanding of the community response to the crisis, and possibly suggest ways that we can learn from and build on the strengths of this response in the future. I also hope that it will help shine a light on the contribution community groups are making during this time, and challenges that they are facing.

Who is doing the research?

This research is being done by Rose Rickford, a PhD student at the University of York. Before I began my PhD I worked in the voluntary sector for over a decade. The focus of my work was supporting small, volunteer-run groups by providing information, training and resources. I have also been an active member of several community groups myself, including a community choir and a number of campaign groups. This is why I am interested in community groups.

How can community groups get involved?

There are two ways that groups can get involved:

Recorded meetings:

Your group could contribute by recording one or more of your video-meetings. Part of the study is understanding how groups are communicating and working together during this time, so if you are holding meetings on Zoom, Skype or similar, this is an easy and extremely valuable way to participate.


One or more members of your group could participate in an interview about your experience of  community activity during the pandemic. The interview will be informal and offer an opportunity for you to talk about your group in your own words. I would like to interview both group organisers (e.g. people doing the background work to make things happen) and group participants (e.g. people who take part in the activities or use the services the group organises).

How can individuals get involved?

Individuals who are members of, or participate in, a community group or activity can participate by being interviewed. For example, if you are participating in an online yoga group, or receiving practical support from a mutual aid group, and you wish to share your experience of being part of a community activity during social distancing, you can participate by being interviewed.

What will happen if I/we take part?

I will have a discussion with you about what ways you would like to participate. If your group decides to contribute a recorded meeting, I will collect consent from everyone who will be in the meeting. I will provide you with instructions for how to record the meeting, or I will record the meeting for you (up to you). If one or more people in your group decide to be interviewed, I will collect consent from those individuals. Interviews will take place over video-call or phone call at a time that suits you.

If we take part, will we get to find out about the findings of the study?

Yes. When the study is finished, I will produce a report for all participants to let you know about the findings of the study. 

What will happen if we participate but then change our minds?

Your group, or any individuals in it, can withdraw from the study at any time up to one month after participating. Any information collected during the time that you took part will be destroyed and your anonymity and confidentiality will continue to be protected.

What will be done with the information collected in this study?

I will examine the recordings, text-based interactions and interview responses and use the findings to inform my PhD research. The findings may also be published in scientific journals and presented at conferences and training workshops. I may use direct quotes in these papers, presentations and workshops. I will also ask for consent to use images and video clips from recorded meetings in presentations and publications, but you can choose not to consent to this if you prefer. Your name, or the name of the group, will never be included.

Will our taking part in the study be kept confidential? Will our data be secure?

Yes. I will follow ethical and legal practice and all information about you will be handled in confidence and data stored securely. You should be aware of the following:

  • Code numbers or names will be used in place of names of people on all transcripts so that all information collected for the study can be kept strictly confidential.
  • The University will put in place appropriate technical and organisational measures to protect your personal data and/or special category data. For the purposes of this project I will pseudonymise transcripts, , encrypt all files and folders and ensure data is transferred securely. Consent forms and a database containing participants’ real names and contact details will be stored securely in a password-protected encrypted folder on the University of York secure server. This information will not be available to anybody other than Rose Rickford. Interviews will be transcribed, and the original recordings stored separately in a password-protected encrypted folder on the University of York secure server. Recordings and transcripts will be labelled with a unique code (no real names of people or groups will be used) and stored in separate password-protected folders on the University of York secure server. The data will only be accessed via or downloaded onto an encrypted device. Transfer of data will be managed using encryption software to ensure that your recordings cannot be accessed by unauthorised people.
  • Information will be treated confidentiality and shared on a need-to-know basis only. The University is committed to the principle of data protection by design and default and will collect the minimum amount of data necessary for the project. In addition, we will anonymise or pseudonymise data wherever possible.
  • For this study, access to the recordings and transcriptswill be restricted to Rose Rickford and her supervisors Dr. Clare Jackson and Dr. Merran Toerien. Data will be transferred using the University of York encrypted Google Drive.
  • The data may be reused by the research team or other third parties for secondary research purposes, subject to your explicit consent. You can choose not to consent to this and still participate in the study.
  • The only reason that I might have to break confidentiality is if anything you reveal suggests that you or another person is at risk of harm. Depending on the circumstance, researchers are required by law to co-operate with designated authorities to prevent or minimise harm in line with legislation or guidance (especially to children – Children’s Act 1989).
    This might mean informing someone else about my concerns, after discussing this with you first.


What will happen to the data when the study is finished?

When the study is finished, the data may be used by Rose Rickford for future studies (subject to your consent). You can choose not to consent to this and still participate in the study.  It will also be archived in the University of York data archive and TalkBank archive at Carnegie Melon University (subject to your consent), so that other researchers may use it in other studies. You can choose not to consent to this and still participate in the study. The data shared will not include participants’ name or contact details, the name of your group, or recordings of interviews.

Which groups can take part in the study?

Any group that:

  • Involves 2 or more people organising something together. This can be a very informal network or a more formal organisation.
  • Is run by volunteers. Groups with a very small number of paid staff are also welcome, so long as the bulk of the day to day organising and decision-making is done by volunteers. Volunteer-run branches of national charities are also eligible.
  • Is organising in some way during the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK
  • Is not-for-profit.

The following groups cannot take part:

  • Groups run by under-18s.
  • Profit making businesses.

How do we find out more?

For more information about the project or how your group can get involved, please get in touch.

Page updated May 2020