BVSC Research, Revolving Doors and the Institute for Community Research and Development (ICRD) at the University of Wolverhampton are currently conducting research about vaccine uptake amongst people in Birmingham who are experiencing multiple disadvantage (homelessness, mental ill-health, substance misuse and those at risk of offending). The research has been funded by the Wesleyan Foundation through the Heart of England Foundation and Birmingham Changing Futures Together and will be completed by the end of September 2021. A team of peer researchers from Revolving Doors Lived Experience Team are assisting in the design and delivery of the research.

The research has come about due to Birmingham Changing Futures Together (BCFT) and Revolving Doors Agency hearing anecdotally that many individuals who have previous or current experience of multiple disadvantage are not planning to get the vaccine.

We think this research is important because:

  1. It is important to understand the scope and scale of the problem and the reasons behind low take up of the vaccination.
  2. If this group is resistant to the vaccination campaign this could put an already vulnerable group at further risk of harm from Covid-19, exacerbating existing
  3. As a group of people who typically come into contact with public services on a regular basis (e.g., A&E, police, probation, social services), low vaccination rates in this cohort place frontline key workers at greater risk.

As part of the project, the research team will speak to a mixture of people to help them to understand the main reasons why people do, or do not, take up the vaccine, and whether this varies amongst different groups or in different areas.  They will also explore what messages or practical support might help people with lived experience of disadvantage to make informed decisions about the vaccine. The research aims to:

  • Explore whether there is a problem with the uptake of the vaccine amongst people with lived experience of a combination of homelessness, substance use, contact with the criminal justice system, mental ill health and domestic violence.
  • Understand how widespread this problem is, and the reasons behind it.
  • Think about possible ways in which people with such lived experience can be supported to make informed decisions about the vaccine.

Director of BVSC Research, Sophie Wilson, said:

“As we move into a period of recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, we think it is important to understand why people do, or do not, take up the vaccine – and believe that it is even more important that we understand this from the perspective of people whose voices are often not heard. We are really pleased therefore to be working with ICRD and the Revolving Doors agency on this important piece of research and are particularly grateful to have a team of experienced peer researchers from the Lived Experience team from RDA to guide and support our work.”

Dr James Rees, Deputy Director of the Institute for Community Development at the University of Wolverhampton said:

“We’re delighted to be working in this cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary partnership with BVSC, Revolving Doors and crucially peer researchers with lived experience, to understand an issue of such contemporary importance. Better understanding the barriers and enablers of vaccine uptake in this population, and highlighting practical ways to improve vaccine uptake will help our recovery from Covid-19 and future pandemics.”

Lauren Bennett, Evaluations Manager at Revolving Doors Agency said:

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with BVSC and University of Wolverhampton on this important project, and for our peer research team to be able to co-design and deliver the research itself. The Covid vaccine is for some a contentious topic and so working with peer researchers will help us ensure that we can address the research questions in a suitable and accessible way. This piece of work is an opportunity to find out more about people’s experiences and views of the vaccine and to improve understanding of how individuals can be supported to make informed decisions – learning that can support efforts to reduce health inequalities in Birmingham.”

We will launch the final report online with presentations from the research team (including peer researchers), national and regional stakeholders, and peer research/ Expert by Experience groups. We will also aim to conduct a second ‘national scaling’ event co-hosted with Revolving Doors, targeting key national audiences, including NCLF Fulfilling Lives Programme partners and the new MHCLG Changing Futures programme and its local areas. Revolving Doors also has good relationships with Public Health England, the Royal Society for Public Health and NHS England, regionally and nationally, with whom we plan to share this research, in order to contribute to tailored solutions and messaging which we hope will make the vaccine more accessible to everyone.