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ISR COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

April - May 2020


Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

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The scope and range of issues touched by the C-19 event are vast. The Institute for Social Responsibility (ISR) asked the Edge Hill University research community to submit articles on a range of issues detailing how the pandemic has affected their field and they responded. Every day through April-May, ISR posted a new viewpoint on the pandemic. Limited to 500 words (approx.), each post was academic, apolitical yet provocative in nature. Professor Jo Crotty, Director: Institute for Social Responsibility

Contents Back in the USSR: C-19 and the Normalising of a Surveillance State Is it kindness that matters? Where is the Balance – Democracy in the Lockdown The Arts and COVID-19: A Time of Danger and Opportunity? Lockdown 2020 – The Impact on Social Care Fingerprints, DNA and Policing Powers during COVID-19 Hannah Arendt: A Theorist for Troubled Times What is the new ‘normal’? Autism, Routine and Covid-19 Pandemic, Press Conference and Performance: What future for the politician’s ‘Direct Address’? COVID-19 lockdown: What are the implications for individual freedom? COVID-19 & the (dis)proportionate case for lockdown Who Needs Society? Authoritarianism and COVID-19 Ministry without the Ministered: Reflections from a Vicar in Lockdown COVID-19: Lockdown when you are Locked Up In Troubled Times, Philosophy CAN Help Wither Fake News: COVID-19 and its Impact on Journalism Coronavirus and Calais refugees: How can you stay safe without soap? Lockdown and Educational Inequality: Some Reflections Re-imagining a ‘Good Society’ in the wake of COVID-19 Slackening of Statutory Measures to Safeguard Children: An Outcome of the Coronavirus Outbreak Temporary or Fixed? Changing Business Models in a Global Pandemic New Realities? New Culture? What next for HR post Covid-19? Blitzed by Myths: The ‘Spirit’ of the Blitz and COVID-19 Dig where you stand: Histories of where you live in a Global Pandemic Images in the Head; the Pervasiveness of Dreaming in Isolation Citizen Science to tackle Poor Air Quality post COVID-19 COVID-19 and Child Abuse in Institutions The Road to Nowhere? Tourism after Covid-19 Constructing a ‘New Normal’: What Changes when it’s all over? Pandemics, Prohibition and the Past: COVID-19 in Historical Perspective Flattening the Acceptance Curve: Transitioning a more Inclusive World after COVID-19 How to Stay ‘Engaged’ at a Distance: Youth Work and COVID-19 “Coming Out” and Covid-19 We Make the Road by Walking: A ‘Kinder’ Society after COVID-19? Everyday Creativity: Why the Arts need to Rethink What Matters Emerging from Lockdown: Shared Experience as we (re)commune together Covid-19: An Opportunity for Nature and Outdoor Education Epidemics: A View from Italy Towards a ‘Next Normal’: HE and Reflection at Speed Covid-19: Hollywood’s Next 9/11? Streaming and CGI? The future of TV and Film after COVID-19? Creative Resilience and going OFFLine during Lockdown Constructive Opposition in a Time of Crisis: Can the new Labour Leadership Rise to the Challenge? Covid-19, Higher Education and the rise of video-based learning Experts at Bereavement? Listen up! Schools have always been much more than places for Education Covid-19: Liberation from the Clock (for some) Returning to ‘normal’: Better or Worse for those with special need and/or disabilities? Staging Apocalypse: Endgame, by Samuel Beckett To the Moon and Back: Summing up the ISR/EHU Covid-19 Blog

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Back in the USSR: C-19 and the Normalising of a Surveillance State 9th April 2020 Professor Jo Crotty current C-19 pandemic has led to a T henumber of very challenging questions. Of course, as a society we want to provide the best care, and minimise the number of deaths. In order to achieve this however, we have had to make some unprecedented sacrifices, not least with our civil liberties. For some, these are acceptable; London Mayor Sadiq Khan in calling for the ‘lockdown’ stated. ‘Our liberties and human rights need to be changed, curtailed, infringed – use whatever word you want’ in order to tackle the virus. For others, including high court judge, Lord Sumption, such curtailment should be undertaken with the utmost caution. It is not so much whether you agree with the police using drones to ‘catch’ people walking two by two in the Peak District, or a lone woman sitting on Aberystwyth beach being told that she is ‘breaking the law’; but on whose authority the police are acting? Proceeding on the expressed preference of the government rather than on a basis of what is lawful, may lead to the very police state that we, on this side of the now dismantled ‘Iron Curtain’, used to rail against. And so what of the former Eastern Bloc? There were high hopes in the West that the end of the Cold War would birth a range of pluralistic, open democratic societies like our own. Sadly, this has not come to pass. In the nearly 30 years since the break-up of the Soviet Union, we have seen the Russian Federation, pass laws that curtail freedom of the press, assembly and limit the scope of civil society. A recent tightening of the latter has led the closure of some of the Russian Federation’s most prominent NGOs. Formed during Perestroika, these included human rights organisation Memorial and environmental protection group Baikal Wave [1].

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In response to C-19, the Russian government has taken the opportunity to increase surveillance to unprecedented levels. In Moscow, 100,000 facial recognition cameras have been installed to identify individuals ‘breaking quarantine’. Other provinces such as Nizhny Novgorod (250 miles from Moscow) have introduced an online pass system. Citizens may only leave their home once they have received online permission via a QR code. Geolocation and banking data is then used to track the individual to ensure compliance. Now the Russian authorities have access to geolocation and banking data, they can obtain other information about people’s private lives, associations, and activities that do not serve the goal of containing and preventing the spread of C-19. It is also unlikely that the facial recognition cameras now installed in Moscow, will be removed once this emergency is over. These are the type of surveillance and monitoring tools that the KGB could have only dreamed of! It is easy to think in the land of the Magna Carta, that this could not happen here. Yet, like 9/11 before it, a global crisis has let mass surveillance ‘genies’ out of the bottle. The permanency of legislation like the US Patriot Act, illustrates that once such genies are let out – they are difficult to put back in. We may have given away some of our civil liberties for the greater good – but these are only on loan. As a society we must ensure that such curtailments to ensure our safety, do not become permanent when this crisis is over.

[1] For more on the management of Russia’s civil society see: - Ljubownikow, S. and Crotty, J. (2017) ‘Managing Boundaries: The Role of NonProfit Organisations in Russia’s Managed Democracy’. Sociology, 51 (5) 940-954 - Crotty J, Hall S M & Ljubownikow S (2014) Post-Soviet Civil Society Development in the Russian Federation: The Impact of the NGO Law, Europe Asia Studies, 66 (8): 1253-1269 Professor Jo Crotty is Director of the Institute for Social Responsibility and a Professor of Management at Edge Hill University.


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Is it kindness that matters? 7th April 2020 Professor Kim Cassidy is no doubt that public interest in T here corporate social (ir) responsibility (CSR and CSIR) in the retail industry had been increasing dramatically over the past few years prior to the onset of COVID-19. Retailers of all shapes and sizes have, for some time, been taking steps to demonstrate socially responsible behaviours in order to reaffirm their position as good corporate citizens. These actions have been widely publicised to consumers and include offering targeted financial support for charities, sponsorship of local community events, changes to product range and environmentally-friendly packaging and initiatives to encourage equality and diversity in the workplace. The onset of COVID19 has generated a whole new level of interest in this agenda, prompting intense scrutiny of retail responses to the crisis. As a research team, we have already accumulated over 150 pages of field notes, documenting the actions being taken as well as the results of detailed scrutiny from the press, social media and trade bodies. From an academic perspective, there is much debate in the CSR/CSIR literature about what constitutes ‘good’ and ‘bad’ activity, and which stakeholders are best positioned to make an assessment [1]. Irrespective of the different perspectives, retail responses generally align to those classified on the spectrum of CSIR and CSR behaviours. At the ‘good’ end of the spectrum we see retailers doing all they can to safeguard their employees, customers and suppliers during this crisis. Superdrug for example, has promised full pay for parents in the workforce who are unable to work remotely and full pay, backdated to March 16, for anyone unable to work due to sickness or self-isolation. Many retailers are also offering support for the most vulnerable customers, with dedicated opening hours for the elderly and NHS workers. Early in the crisis Sainsbury agreed to introduce immediate payment terms for its suppliers

with under £100,000 turnover – a move that will benefit nearly 1,500 small businesses. Others appear to be going beyond the call of duty, diverting expertise and resources to fight the bigger cause. Boots, for example, is teaming up with the Government to operate testing facilities for NHS workers and supply volunteer healthcare clinicians as testers. B&Q’s parent company, Kingfisher, is also providing £1m of personal protective equipment – including protective eyewear and masks – and funding for health services across Europe. At the other ‘bad’ end of the scale, there are those who appear to be doing a bare minimum to comply with legislation and seem reluctant to prioritise employee welfare unless absolutely pressurised to do so by negative media coverage. The key question being asked by many retail commentators is what will be the long term impact of these activities on corporate image and brand reputation? Which activities will be remembered and which of these will have a positive (or negative) influence on future customer loyalty? According to a recent report [2] actions with three characteristics that will define retail businesses during this testing period. Retailers who show resilience, bravery and kindness, in dealings with stakeholders, employees, customers and society at large, will be those most likely to survive these turbulent times. It is the notion of kindness, incorporating ‘friendliness, generosity and consideration’ [3] which appears to align most closely with socially responsible behaviour and offers a useful lens to reflect on the long term impact.

this category. The media and general public may not even be aware of their detailed track record of kind activity as selfpromotion is not the priority for these companies. They are kind because this quality resonates with the ethical and moral principles that drive their business. There is no doubt that many other retailers can be seen displaying acts of kindness during this period. In some cases these are surprising and often unexpected given the company performance and development to date. Such displays of kindness may make a good impression on stakeholders in the short term, but long-term survival may depend on how effectively kindness can be integrated into strategic intent post COVID 19. [1] For a review of the literature on CSIR see for example Riera, M. and Iborra, M., 2017. Corporate social irresponsibility: Review and conceptual boundaries. European Journal of Management and Business Economics. [2] www.myrtwellbeing.org.uk/the-futurebeyond-covid-19-/emerging-stronger-after -the-covid-19-crisis/491.article (accessed 6th April 2020) [3] OED definition of kindness is the ‘quality of being friendly, generous and considerate’ Professor Kim Cassidy is a Professor of Marketing at Edge Hill University.

There are undoubtedly retailers who have been regularly undertaking acts of kindness long before the onset of COVID-19. They have kindness engrained in their DNA, and it influences all the strategic relationships they have with their stakeholders. For example, companies like Boots, the Cooperative Group, and Timpsons all fall into

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Where is the Balance? – Democracy in the Lockdown 20th April 2020 Paula Keaveney of CORVID 19 has changed T heourarrival annual routines. Every Spring we know to put the clocks forward, to expect events like the Grand National and the Cup Final and to expect the steady tramp of the political campaigners’ tread. Because for politicians, May is polling day. There is always an election somewhere in early May – except of course this year when the Government postponed a whole slew of elections to 2021. Virus control measures, like social distancing and staying at home were seen as incompatible with public polling stations and crowded counts. So here the balance was weighed, and after some delay, the Government decided that anti- virus action trumped democracy, or at least allowed democracy to wait a little. The UK Government’s decision, and those in other places, raise questions about where the balance should be and can be. One of those keenest for elections to continue this Spring was French President Emmanuel Macron. France was due for a huge set of local elections. More complicated than a UK polling day, these contests frequently involve a run-off round. Citizens usually have to vote twice before any decision is made. The first round took place despite the lock-down but the second round was then postponed. Turnout was down with special precautions at polling stations around the country. In the US we are in that part of the election cycle which sees a whole host of primary contests as part of the Presidential selection. These are run by individual States or State parties, and we’ve seen many push their polling dates into June or move to absent voting – which usually means by post, except that is in Wisconsin where a bizarre stand- off led to court hearings and a row between the Governor and the State legislature. At stake was whether and how to run polling day in early April and how to deal with postal votes. The Republican legislature wanted the date and existing rules to stand. The Democratic Governor

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wanted to postpone. And this being America the judges got drawn in. The result was few polling places, slow moving queues of voters wearing facemasks, confusion over the postal vote deadline, and a lower than usual turnout. One of the pictures of the year will be Jennifer Taff and her home made “This is Ridiculous” placard. Wisconsin was choosing people for some other roles as well as the Presidential primary, but it is hard to see the urgency of any of them. Another election to go ahead was the national contest in South Korea in mid-April in which the governing party was re-elected with in a landslide. Turnout was up. The election saw plenty of precautions though including voters’ temperatures being taken. Anyone suspected of being ill voted in a more secluded polling booth which was then sanitised. In Poland the Governing Law and Justice party is determined that the Presidential election, due on May 10th, goes ahead. This is not surprising as the party’s candidate, the incumbent Duda, is currently polling at more than 50 per cent with the closest challenger on 10. Plans to carry on with the election have caused angry scenes in the Polish Parliament as first measures for some postal voting, and then measures for a completely postal vote were pushed through. There are very real worries about whether, on such a tight timescale, everyone entitled to vote will get a correctly addressed ballot in time to take part. But that’s not the only problem. Coronavirus in Poland means public gatherings can’t happen. And that in turn means parties can’t run their usual campaigns. This has sparked critical comment at European level, with the Organisation of Cooperation and Security in Europe making a statement shortly after the Polish Parliament vote. “Genuine elections require an authentic campaign in which voters can hear the programmes and opinions of all candidates in order to make a well-informed choice,” said [1] ODIHR Director Ingibjörg Sólrún

Gísladóttir. “The current limitations on public gatherings due to the pandemic make campaigning close to impossible. I am concerned that if the presidential election goes ahead under the current circumstances, it may fall short of a number of international standards.” Approaches to whether or not people should be able to exercise their right to vote depend on the progress of the virus. But they also depend on political factors. They also raise the issue of the importance of elections in democracy and the perception of democracy. It would be hard, having seen the turnouts in some English local elections, to argue that all citizens are losing out. Most don’t bother to vote. But those who were dissatisfied with their current representative or their current council administration have lost the chance to say so. And maybe it is the loss of opportunity that matters, not the way it has been used in the past. And of course elections focus minds when politicians are making decisions. The advance of the virus has seen more governments and more administrations take more powers. For the most part the public have not disagreed. The crucial test will be how that power, or whether that power, is relinquished and how citizens get back their say and use it. [1] The Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights is part of the OSCE. Its responsibilities include organising Election Observation Missions. Paula Keaveney is Programme Leader for Politics at Edge Hill University. She also takes part in Election Observation Missions.


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The Arts and COVID-19: A Time of Danger and Opportunity? 21st April 2020 Professor Vicky Karkou Henley (2020), the CEO of the Arts D arren Council, refers to the pandemic as: “the most serious challenge to (the) existence” (p.1) of the arts industry since the second world war”. With the closure of all cinemas, theatres, live music venues, studios and dancing spaces, the arts industry in the UK faces a very uncertain future. So much so that Arts Council England have now redirected all its grant funds to an Emergency Response Fund for individuals and organisations who will be most at risk from the fall-out from the pandemic. While this is happening, people in lockdown are faced with the need to connect through the arts in ways that have not been present before. From online dance, music and theatre performances (e.g. English National Ballet, Albert Royal Hall and Hampstead Theatre) to interactive sessions of how to draw and paint, how to dance or how to write poetry (see Royal Academy, Dancing Alone Together, Poetry Society); the internet is filling with options of things to ‘attend to’ or to ‘participate with’ whilst at home. In addition to online options, dancing in the streets and in court yards, playing music in front of one’s house or singing from one’s window are new ways of connecting through the arts that are surfacing because of the pandemic; not only in the UK but all around the world.

At EHU’s Centre for Arts and Wellbeing we are undertaking research projects on the contribution of the arts to one’s wellbeing. For example, through the ‘Arts for the Blues’ project (Karkou et al in preparation; Omylinska-Thurston et al 2019; Parsons et al 2019; Haslam et al 2019) we have found therapeutic benefits in the use of creativity and the arts for those struggling with loneliness and depression. In the current lockdown situation, this is relevant to all of us.

Professor Vicky Karkou is a Professor of Arts & Wellbeing at Edge Hill University.

Remaining active through arts-making, learning new skills, or engaging in mindful (or not) indoors movement, all have the potential to vitalise us. Finding opportunities to express feelings that are difficult to talk about through singing, drawing or moving in the presence of or with our loved ones over the phone, zoom or Skype, may be ways of strengthening and resourcing ourselves. It may also be the time to stop, think, reflect and re-focus, making plans for new ways of being that are more relational and certainly more meaningful and rewarding. It is possible, that with appropriately coordinated activities that combine research, public and personal initiatives, the arts can make contributions that offer re-vitalising experiences for all of us. So let’s stay in – and dance!

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Lockdown 2020 – The Impact on Social Care 22nd April 2020 Dr Michael Richards this unprecedented lockdown, D uring serious concerns have been raised across society about the social care of the country’s most marginalised and vulnerable groups; and the safety and protection of those who provide their care. Despite this, provisions within the Coronavirus Act 2020 undermine the Equality Act 2010 and the Care Act 2014, which guarantees disabled people and other marginalised groups the right to appropriate social care and support, and for their social care needs to be met. The Act stipulates that local authorities will only have to provide care ‘if they consider it necessary’. The Act allows health bodies to delay assessment for continuing care in the NHS. In addition, duties relating to young people transitioning into adult social care have been suspended. People can also be detained under the Mental Health Act using one doctor’s opinion instead of two ensuring that it is easier to detain people. There is also potential for releasing people into the community from mental health care too early, or for people in care staying in care for longer than necessary.

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The mantra of ‘we can do’ and ‘let’s stick together’ oft repeated by the ableist and most powerful in society during this pandemic, runs contrary to the provisions within the Act and will likely ensure that the most marginalised in society will be worst off. Ironically, the real experts of ‘lockdown’ are the disabled and marginalised. Perhaps we should be listening to their voices, and drawing on their expertise and knowledge, during this global crisis instead? Dr Michael Richards is a Senior Lecturer in Health and Social Care and the Deputy Director of the Centre for Arts and Wellbeing at Edge Hill University.


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Fingerprints, DNA and Policing Powers during COVID-19 23rd April 2020 Dr Simon Hale-Ross measures have now been L ockdown extended by a further three weeks and may last until mid-June. So, you might be wondering what the mechanisms are behind such structures. How can the police force people to disperse from large gatherings? What in fact are large gatherings? What about leaving your home for anything other reason than essential travel? What penalties are in place? Well… Law is the answer, specifically Public Law. Broadly speaking public law governs the relationship between the individual and the state. Many Acts of Parliament fall into this category, none more so than those covering police powers, counter-terrorism powers and human rights. Enter the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the conjoined Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020. The Act and Regulations restrict an individual’s movement during the emergency period, specifying that no person may leave their fixed abode without reasonable excuse. Large gatherings, defined as being two people or more, are also banned for the duration of this emergency; again unless you can satisfy certain necessities. Enforcement of these restrictions and penalties applicable are provided by an increase in current legislative powers brought about by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). An officer is now permitted to arrest an individual without a warrant, in order to maintain public health and to maintain public order. Arrestable offences have undoubtedly increased under these provisions. Should an individual, without reasonable excuse contravene a requirement under the regulations, they essentially commit a criminal offence. If an individual does not follow a direction given, or fails to comply with a reasonable instruction, they likewise commit an offence, and are liable on summary conviction to a fine, a maximum being £1000.

What is perhaps most interesting, is that section 24 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 goes further, without rationale, providing an extension to the time limits for the retention of fingerprints and DNA profiles. The UK Parliament introduced the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 which stated that all DNA and fingerprint samples taken from persons who are not convicted of a criminal offence should be destroyed. Prior to this Act, the UK had the largest database in the western world. Whilst PACE already allows for indefinite retention of those profiles taken from convicted individuals, and for up to three to five years of those merely charged, the Coronavirus Act 2020 allows for a maximum 12-month extension to these times.

Thankfully, the master-control-programme behind the increased measures, namely the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, have sunset clauses, bringing them to an abrupt end once this crisis has abated. The question remaining of course, have these measures inadvertently altered public perceptions regarding the relationship between collective security and individual privacy? Will the line spring back or stay overtly state supportive? Dr Simon Hale-Ross is a Senior Lecturer in Law and Counter Terrorism Policing at Edge Hill University.

It is far from clear why in these times would need to be extended in the first place given that Magistrates Court hearings in England and Wales are taking place remotely. The law already provides for retention beyond that of many other jurisdictions, so why the necessity? There are pros and cons to retention; some solving old cold cases and bringing about justice for all. But the science is not 100% and can lead to unfairness and wrongful arrest. Your DNA/fingerprint profile belongs uniquely to you, but now it seems, increasingly to the authorities; kept on a computer system to which you have no control or access. This fact, conjoined with the ever-increasing use of computer algorithms, such databases hold enormous power, a gold-mine for national and international policing agencies. These can be used positively for fighting crime, but they come with huge risks to privacy. Mission creep can easily lead to such databased being employed in terms of racial profiling, medical history and psychological profiling.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Hannah Arendt: A Theorist for Troubled Times 24th April 2020 Paul Bunyan a time of existential threat, Hannah A tArendt is, I believe, a good theorist to turn to in troubled times. Throughout her career Arendt addressed many existential themes, most notably, totalitarianism and the so-called “banality of evil”, in her study of the trial of Adolf Eichmann. As a political theorist, however, Arendt was most interested in the positive meaning of human plurality, in particular the potential of people to act in concert in the public realm. In framing her theory of public action, Arendt employed two important distinctions which I think are particularly pertinent to the present crisis – the distinction between the private and public, and the social and political. First, the private and public. Confined to our private domains, the present crisis has, like no other within living memory, heightened awareness of the contrast between the private and public. The stark images of empty public landmarks and spaces remind us of the significance of place and how much we perhaps take it for granted. We look out on a public world, both grateful that a powerful state can, to an extent, ameliorate the devastating impact of the virus, but also mindful of the way in which social divisions and inequalities have further been laid bare by the crisis. As the journalist Emily Maitlis powerfully attested to recently on Newsnight, the virus does not affect everyone equally. It is the less well-off who will be most affected and who rely most on public goods and services. For those with sufficient private means, the crisis will have a less disproportionate impact. That said, the crisis has attuned us to how much we depend upon key workers, many in low status and low paid roles. The example of the tragedy, some might say scandal, of the plight of care homes during the epidemic will surely mean that it cannot be business as usual post-virus. Or will it?

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This is where Arendt’s second and related distinction, between the social and political, is I believe, particularly apposite. Arendt was keen to protect the autonomy of the political from economic-social rationality, which has been the hallmark of neoliberalism over recent decades. According to Arendt the rightful place of the political is the public domain; the economic and social, what Arendt regarded as the realm of necessity; she assigned to the private realm. She has been criticized by other theorists for what they regard as too rigid a demarcation between the social/economic on one side and the political, on the other. That said, I believe her distinction brings into sharp relief the very difficult choices that lie ahead. The social and economic impact of the epidemic, we are told, is likely to cause great damage for some time. The benevolence of government will not last. Clapping for NHS and key workers is an important gesture during a time of national crisis. The big question going forward is whether the good will of the people will translate to concerted and sustained public action to ensure that it is not business as usual post-crisis. Paul Bunyan is a lecturer in Social Science and Programme Leader for Childhood and Youth Studies at Edge Hill University. Image Hannah Arendt in 1944. Portrait by photographer Fred Stein (1909-1967) who emigrated 1933 from Nazi Germany to France and finally to the USA. Fred Stein/Press Association. All rights reserved.


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What is the new ‘normal’? Autism, Routine and Covid-19 27th April 2020 Dr Gray Atherton April 2nd World Autism Day was being O ncelebrated around the world. Just as it has for the last few years, the Twitterverse was particularly active, with the popular hashtag #autismawarenessday being posted in thousands of tweets in support of those on the spectrum. This year of course, many #autismawarenessday tweets were also focused on another, more sombre topic, Covid-19. While many of these Covid focused tweets encapsulated the goals of autism awareness day by sharing helpful links and posting online resources, many also highlighted the challenges autistic people and their families may additionally be facing during this pandemic. Autism is a complex condition that can have a profound impact on many areas of an individual’s life. While many share similar characteristics, including sensory sensitivity, social and communicative differences and a preference for routine and certain interests, as the saying goes, once you have met one autistic person, you have only met one autistic person. Covid-19 has, of course, upended the normal schedules of us all, not just with regards to our professional and social routines, but in the way that normal activities have changed. We can no longer rely on public transportation, we must queue for groceries, and we are unable to leave the house when we please to go to a favourite pub, or see a friend over the road. For autistic people this may be particularly distressing as routines are relied upon to make the world predictable and comforting. Additionally, there are quite pressing anxieties in relation to the possibility of infection of both us and those around us. As autistic people are significantly more likely to have clinical levels of anxiety and experience OCD related symptoms the current fear of infection and an increased emphasis on handwashing and social distancing can compound existing stressors.

Also, while social distancing is difficult for us all, it may be particularly isolating for those on the spectrum. Research suggests that many adults with autism already experience higher levels of loneliness and may have less social contact than those without autism and are also more likely to have clinical depression. The closing of schools may also be particularly difficult for children with autism as research shows they in particular benefit from social inclusion during instruction and extracurricular activities where they can learn from other children (Harper et al., 2008).

Dr Gray Atherton is a Lecturer in Psychology at Edge Hill University.

So, what can help?). Autistic adults can benefit from creating new structured routines for working and socializing at home rather than in person. For more generalized anxiety over Covid it can be to limit exposure to news, to keep up with friends and family members over the phone or email, and to do stress reducing activities like meditation or exercise. Online playdates and scheduled time to meet online with family and friends can be an important way to stay connected. Even spending time with pets can be a big help. And as always, it is important to know that whatever you are going through, you are not alone. While offering a number of Covid-related resources, autism.org.uk is also sharing the stories of autistic people and how they are coping during Covid. Resources like wrongplanet.net and Reddit sites r/autism and r/aspergers are forums for autistic people to share their experiences and connect with others who are also dealing with the realities of the pandemic. Reflecting not only on how things are different, but how they can be improved, is a good first step for us all. And in these last few weeks of April when we celebrate autism acceptance and awareness, let’s keep in mind how we can support, even from a distance, those who may need that support the most.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Pandemic, Press Conference and Performance: What future for the politician’s ‘Direct Address’? 28th April 2020 Paula Keaveney decided not to watch the coronavirus press conference the other day. I heard the names of the speakers and decided they weren’t the performers I wanted. Never mind the news, I wanted a different leading man. And that tells me something about what has quickly become a tradition. These events, intended to convey news, have become a bizarre form of entertainment. That’s partly because they are not what we expect from politicians in the UK. In this country, televised government press conferences and direct media addresses by politicians to the public are rare. The question is whether these will remain post coronavirus and whether they are a good idea.

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There is a very different tradition in the US. It was JFK who realised the theatrical possibilities of the press conference. The practice existed before his Presidency but he gave it stardust. Since then US Presidents have shown a range of approaches. But whether the President appears or not, the press secretary’s televised briefings are a regular staple of US politics. That means viewers can get familiar with the journalists and the press team. And of course it is all on the record. The US also has much more of a tradition of the President speaking directly to citizens. FDR’s fireside chats became famous. They became the weekly radio address (put on hold by Trump). US viewers are also used to direct TV statements and to the State of the Union speech (which despite being an address to Congress is actually aimed elsewhere). Of course a US President is directly elected while a UK Prime Minister is not. This in part explains the relative lack of direct address here. Apart from at times of war, these are rare. Theresa May’s deliberate TV address to voters, ahead of a 2019 European meeting on Brexit, shocked many, partly because of the content but also because of the mechanism. Speaking directly to camera and flanked by union jacks she said this:

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“You’re tired of the infighting, you’re tired of the political games and the arcane procedural rows, tired of MPs talking about nothing else but Brexit when you have real concerns about our children’s schools, our National Health Service, knife crime. You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with. I agree. I am on your side. It is now time for MPs to decide.”

But what about press briefings? If these were more visible, argue some, the more harmful off- the -record spinning would be restricted. Citizens would be able to see what was said and what was asked, and draw their own conclusions. They would also be able to see whether some press spokespeople really were bullies as has been reported.

Criticism flooded in. Many felt that May was talking to the wrong audience.

Of course televised press briefings don’t stop off-the-record conversations or more private information. They simply mean the interactions take place somewhere else.

Outside diplomatic events, televised press conferences are equally rare in the UK. Governments have at times used this as sort of Review of the Year events, or to mark something beginning, but for the most part interactions between the government and the press are done behind closed doors. The lobby – the group of journalists with special access – even have a briefing referred to as “the huddle”. Every now and then there is a campaign for briefings to be recorded and published. And for a while some basic text did appear. Live tweeting was also allowed after a row earlier this year. But as a general rule this self-policing group prefer the shadows. And it suits the government to keep briefings out of the public gaze. Once the immediate crisis is over, and there is no felt need for a daily update, will things go back to normal media-wise? And should they? There is no doubt that allowing the government to directly address the population on a regular basis creates difficulties. There are very real problems of balance and democracy. There is a reason why broadcasters have to be politically neutral. There is a reason why Party Political Broadcasts are allocated according to a formula. Would there have to be equal time given to the opposition? And if so what about smaller parties? Outside a crisis it seems clear that allowing too much government advantage poses a problem.

So after this period of unusual apparent openness I suspect the media environment will return to its old ways. And the government may find that our willingness to hear more direct messages is rather limited. Paula Keaveney is Programme Leader for Politics at Edge Hill University. Image 27/04/2020. London, United Kingdom. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a statement outside 10 Downing Street, as he returns to work following recovering from Coronavirus at Chequers. Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street. © Crown copyright


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COVID-19 lockdown: What are the implications for individual freedom? 28th April 2020 Professor Paresh Wankhade Coronavirus outbreak is having a T heprofound impact on our personal and work lives. Like many countries around the world, UK has been placed under lockdown for more than four weeks now. Unlike some European countries who have declared a state of emergency under Article 15 of the European Convention on European Rights (ECHR) to deal with COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Government has armed itself with the emergency powers through the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 outlining rules on business closures and movement restrictions. The Coronavirus Act 2020 increases the powers of the government to restrict or prohibit events and gatherings and to close educational establishments beyond those set out in the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. This allows police to restrict, prohibit events and detain people who may be infectious to slow down the spread of the virus. It is also worth pointing out that while these powers may seem to impact on individual right to liberty and freedom of movement, they are ‘temporary’ in nature and specific to deal with the pandemic.

Public opinion remains divided between the fears of turning us into a “nation of little tyrants” and positive support for the current measures. The situation is further exacerbated by the mixed messages given by the government over the lockdown amidst very different approaches taken by other European countries for easing the lockdown. The pandemic has raised important questions around individual freedom and role of the State to ‘curb’ the free movement and assembly of people even during a health emergency such as COVID19. With the PM Johnson’s announcement to continue the lockdown after his return to work, the debate between ‘everlockers versus the liberators’ will only become more fiercer. Paresh Wankhade is Professor of Leadership and Management, and Director of Research in the Business School at Edge Hill University. Image Central Edinburgh under lockdown on Easter Saturday 2020. © kaysgeog, Fickr

The Police is using its powers to issue fines to those who have ignored the ‘stay-athome’ restrictions in breach of coronavirus lockdown rules. However, criticism has also emerged against the ‘overreach’ in use of virus lockdown powers. Recently, former Supreme Court Judge Lord Sumption warned that that excessive measures were in danger of turning Britain into a “police state” while criticising one force for using drone to film walkers in the Peak district. Using these powers judiciously and avoiding an overzealous response is crucial to build public confidence. Notwithstanding the calls for greater consistency and reissuance of new guidance, confusion created by different interpretation of official guidance by cabinet ministers during the lockdown has been quite unhelpful.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

COVID-19 & the (dis)proportionate case for lockdown 29th April 2020 Eri Mountbatten-O’Malley has been criticised for T hedoingGovernment ‘too little, too late’. But is this fair? One of the issues I identify here is the way mortality statistics have been recorded. This is important because mortality rates are fundamental to assessments of risk to public health, which in turn are fundamental to any rationale for lockdown. For example, the case fatality rate (CFR) is most often cited. However, this is a method of measuring fatalities amongst those who have sought emergency care. This clearly amounts to a form of ‘selection bias’ by only measuring extreme cases. Conversely, the infection fatality rate (IFR) is far more useful because it helps to account for all (or most) cases of infection, including asymptomatic infections, in the wider population so we get a more accurate assessment of populational risk. IFR alone is still not enough however. The single most influential study in the UK (Ferguson et al, 2020) –which provided the rationale for the UK Government lockdown on 23rd March – suggested that UK fatalities could be in the region of 500,000, in the UK. This figure was erroneous by any measure. These were revised down somewhat, but the damage has already been done. There has also been a huge issue with death certification practices based on new procedural guidance (in the UK and elsewhere). For example, it allows for a diagnosis of COVID-19 death based on a ‘positive test’ of COVID-19 alone, irrespective of the co-morbidity or direct cause. Further, in terms of reporting, ONS clarified that ‘it will not always be the main cause of death, but may be a contributory factor’ mentioned ‘somewhere on the death certificate’. But this doesn’t stop them presenting the data as a COVID-19 death.

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We therefore have a perfect storm of errors. On the one hand, the mere presence of COVID-19 through testing is enough to certify it as a cause of death, and on the other, a clinical assessment based on symptoms is seen as sufficient ‘[w]ithout diagnostic proof’. Similar issues have been noted in Italy, the US, and even Germany. Naturally this puts the whole methodology for any assessment of risk into doubt because the very basis of risk (fatalities) is hugely misleading. This is an issue that has also been recently raised by Francis Hoar QC who has undertaken a timely analysis of the relevant evidential grounds for lockdown and the ‘questionable’ scientific basis for lockdown. No matter what you see in the media, the advertised figures are likely to be significantly overstated rather than understated, bringing COVID-19 closer in line with the rather standard risks associated with seasonal influenza. Although the Government must rightly do everything it can to protect the public, it must do so in ways that are proportionate to the risk, striking a balance between respect for civil liberties and the legitimate aims for the protection of public health. If Government justifications for lockdown are predicated on misleading mortality statistics and poor methodological practices, then perhaps we need a rethink. For a fuller analysis of the issues raised here, please see Eri’s UKAJI post here.

Eri Mountbatten-O’Malley is a Graduate Teaching Assistant and PhD at Edge Hill University. He has been active in specialist advice and casework, social welfare law and mental health policy research for many years, notably through his work for Citizens Advice, NAWRA, NUS and the Centre for Welfare Reform. In recognition of the impact of his advice, policy and campaign work, he was awarded Student Money Adviser of the year 2016. He is a qualified Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has spoken internationally about scientistic and reductionist accounts of well-being and flourishing in public policy.


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Who Needs Society? Authoritarianism and COVID-19 29th April 2020 Dr Sergej Ljubownikow Wall Street Journal recently T hesuggested that ‘western democracies’ should look to Eastern Europe to how it contained the COVID-19 pandemic. With some Eastern European countries first ignoring or diminishing the COVID-19 threat (Russia) or asserting the benefits of ‘alternative’ therapies such as the encouragement of steam baths, eating garlic, and drinking Vodka – the Eastern European approach needs to be understood with more nuance. Of course a key assertion here is not that these ‘alternative’ approaches have merit, but more that is that people in Eastern Europe, because of the legacies of their communist past, are much more accepting of restriction on their individual freedoms. At the core of this assertion is the nature of state-society relations. State-society relations are a core part of governance arrangements in all sort of political regimes. In western democracies, be they of a liberal-capitalist or socialdemocratic persuasion, they tend to be open and transparent involving the ability for frequent interaction and open critique. This enables individuals, groups and organisations, often in the form of nonprofit organisations to engage in a range of activities to ensure the accountability of government. In non-democratic regimes, state-society relations tend to be used to reinforce the status quo, rather than challenge it. The current pandemic has thus provided an opportunity for authoritarian regimes to further shape state-society relations to ensure their continued existence.

The academic literature highlights that authoritarian regimes ensure their resilience and survival by adapting their governance arrangements. COVID-19 has already been a godsend for them in terms of their ability to curb individual freedoms (such as freedom of movement or assembly) and a way to justifiably increasing ‘big brother’ tendencies and to further centralise power. Likely they will find it difficult to walk these back when the pandemic is over. Conversely, such regimes may now be more reliant on non-profit organisations to ‘manage’ the response to the pandemic – both in terms of protecting the vulnerable, but also identifying who the vulnerable are in the first place.

Dr Sergej Ljubownikow is a lecturer in Strategic Management at Sheffield Management School and an expert scholar in Russian civil society development.

A good example is the Russian Federation. Over the years it has used political, legislative, financial and cultural means to limit the ability and reach of NPOs (albeit keeping a few organisations going to maintain a veneer of democracy). At the same time, the state has worked directly with some non-profit organisations to help address key social problems. These have become an important part in maintaining social order, particularly at a local and regional level. In the event of this health crisis, it is likely that state is now reliant on such NPOs to access ‘hard to reach’ vulnerable groups including drug addicts and victims of domestic abuse. Might NPOs be able to take advantage of this opportunity to reshape their relationship with the state? Will the Russian states new abilities to surveille the individual mean that there is less of a need to control what NPOs do? But also maybe less of a need to engage with them? One thing is for sure, state-society relations in Russia and elsewhere are unlikely to be the same again.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Ministry without the Ministered: Reflections from a Vicar in Lockdown 30th April 2020 Rev John Davis s a Church of England Vicar, like other A professionals called to work in local community the idea of this lockdown has been a tremendous shock. I am learning to cope (but not very well!). Ministers of the Gospel are called to preach, teach and minister God’s love in community; isolation is a very painful and difficult antithesis to that. The lockdown challenges the Church and all of us in a number of ways: Firstly, the physical isolation from people whom we love in our wider family and friends including members of our flock. For someone like me – who has been suspicious of social media, fearing that people forget what real friendship is, a new movement has arisen to inform people of what we are offering using Facebook and Twitter, Zoom and other social media platforms on PCs, phones and tablets. I created my first ever video sermon last week. In common with all public speakers (including stand-up comedians!) we know that preaching is about reacting to the people who are ‘present’ as well as just sharing your pre-prepared thoughts. Reaction is stifled as I always look to discern the Holy Spirit at work within each individual. Secondly, with strict rules in place, most people have cancelled their weddings due to numbers being limited to 5. Church funerals are no longer permitted; each ceremony in cemetery chapels and crematoria limit mourner numbers to around 10 with the option of live streaming services for family and friends who are blessed with access to IT. We have recently lost two members of our congregation; there will certainly need to be a number of memorial services after lockdown as people are feeling extremely cheated from expressing their grief. The pain of not being able to properly mourn or celebrate their contribution to the community is palpable.

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As well as concern for relationships distanced, bereavement and sacramental isolation there are also severe financial implications for churches and Dioceses. As with other charities and businesses the Church is losing fees, charges and collections along with other forms of financial and volunteer support. For many organisations, large or small, this will be critical. However, the major questions for us all are theological and social. I do want to ask what sort of society we want to be in the future, when we seek to bring justice for all which is at the heart of Christianity. Perhaps appreciating each other more, looking out for the poor, elderly and vulnerable, keeping fit, learning how to cook healthily, polluting the planet less and taking the NHS and other public and shared services much more seriously. Whilst experiencing this lock down we can all reflect on the kind of society we want to build; perhaps now appreciating things we had forgotten. As a person of faith I want to challenge us all to look forward with hope to build a better, more inclusive and safer future for everyone in our world. Love, justice and peace must be paramount. Rev John Davis of ‘Together Liverpool’ and the Church Urban Fund is an ISR Visiting Fellow.


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COVID-19: Lockdown when you are Locked Up 1st May 2020 Dr Sean Creaney, Dr Michael Richards, and John Marsden onset of COVID-19 has made an T heimpact on every aspect of our society. But one group in particular is facing real difficulties in coping with the crisis, a group so often ignored by society, and that is people in prison. It is shocking that reportedly up to 60% of prisoners could become infected with COVID-19. A custodial sentence punishes an offender by taking away his or her liberty. But can justice be served if restrictions on a person’s liberty places that individual in mortal danger? Overcrowding, run-down prison buildings and the close-knit nature of prison itself means that the pandemic has been, and will continue to be, exacerbated for prisoners, prison workers and families connected to these groups. To counter this, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has also announced its intention to temporarily release pregnant prisoners, but, at the time of writing, very few pregnant women have actually been released. The MoJ has also said that to assist with social distancing, around 4000 prisoners will be released early on licence – yet by mid-April only a small number of prisoners had been released; highlighting a lack of urgency in providing care, safety and protection for prisoners.

Despite the above, there are still some positives. In these challenging times a group of young people from social justice charity Peer Power Youth in London, working in partnership with NHS England, have produced something extraordinary. In an act of collective compassion, they have created an educational video for young people in custody. The young people from the charity explained what the COVID-19 pandemic is and provided support and guidance on how to stay safe in prison. These young people – with experience of care and/or criminal justice – know what it feels like to be in distressing situations, how to offer empathy and overcome types of adversity. All of this is demonstrated in the video they have produced. Dr Sean Creaney is a Lecturer in Psychosocial Analysis of Offending Behaviour, and a member of the Institute for Social Responsibility. Dr Michael Richards is a Senior Lecturer in Health and Social Care, and Deputy Director: Centre for Arts and Wellbeing at Edge Hill University John Marsden is a Senior Lecturer in Counselling and Psychotherapy at Edge Hill University.

The pandemic is also likely to exacerbate the mental health problems of prisoners. The uncertainty of this situation will leave many prisoners more vulnerable to stress and anxiety, triggering incidents of selfharm and paranoia, with isolation intensifying the symptoms of trauma. With experienced officers leaving the prison service in large numbers, those that remain are struggling to curtail social interaction – particularly as many prisons officers themselves have had to self-isolate – it has become incredibly challenging for prison officers to identify and respond appropriately to the individual needs of inmates; particularly those with underlying health problems.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

In Troubled Times, Philosophy CAN Help 4th May 2020 Dr Steve J Hothersall is much for us reflect upon during T here these difficult times, not the least of which might well be encompassed by how the modern, high-tech, sophisticated world of Homo Sapiens can be brought to a virtual standstill by a simple single-celled organism called Covid-19. This very fact is sufficient in itself to make us stop and reflect on the (almost absolute) power of nature – and of micro-organisms in particular, and to ponder the extent of our relative impotence when looking down the barrel of this particular gun. Such thoughts have made me reflect deeply on the nature of the human condition, and dwell somewhat on how we, as a species, will deal with the aftermath of this, and what we perhaps ought to do in the wake of this microbiological tsunami (and no apologies for mixing my metaphors). As someone with a deep personal and academic interest in philosophy, I am committed to an appreciation of its power to provide us both with words of wisdom, but also advice that can focus our attention and our actions in the present, and guide us in the future. In the same way that Paul Bunyan’s recent blog on Hannah Arendt reminds us that her thought and writings have huge relevance in this current crisis, so to do the words and the works of many great philosophers. Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher had much to say about life and its vicissitudes in his tract Meditations, some of which are relayed here; they have resonance not just in this here-and-now, but for the future too:

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“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” “If you apply yourself to the task before you, following the right reason seriously, vigorously, calmly, without allowing anything else to distract you, but keeping your divine part pure, as if you might be bound to give it back immediately; if you hold this, expecting nothing, fearing nothing, but satisfied with your present activities according to nature, and with heroic truth in every word and sound which you utter, you will live happily. And there is no man who is able to prevent this.” “If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.” Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor Philosophy really does have something to offer – it isn’t dry and dusty, but alive and vibrant and a great tool to help us to be better, or to do things differently – a nascent theme for all of us to think about as we envision a post-Covid-19 world. Will it be the same, or ought it to be different? I know what I think! Dr Steve J Hothersall is Head of Social Work Education at Edge Hill University.


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Wither Fake News: COVID-19 and its Impact on Journalism 4th May 2020 Dr Ruxandra Trandafoiu pandemic has reproposed, T hethiscurrent time with more acuity than ever, key questions for the media and journalism. First, the current crisis has reconfirmed that our reality is indeed substantially shaped by media. We live in an era of deep mediatization, as researchers call it (see Andreas Hepp’s Deep Mediatization book published in 2019, among many others), with every aspect of our lives shaped by media technologies. It is likely that reality, society and interpersonal communications will forever be changed by this. As our WhatsApp and Zoom communications continue, we will definitely come out at the other end speaking and communicating differently. Fake news is also now a staple feature of media production and consumption. It seems though that this virus is worsening the widespread infection of established functions of journalism: the promotion and defence of truth, verification and expertise. Journalism IS defined, at its core, as a discipline of verification. Social media, citizen journalism, the 24-hour news cycle, and the speed of breaking news have already impacted on journalistic practices, our trust in news outlets and our understanding of truth and expertise. The crisis is now asking tough questions about the ways fake news, conspiracy theories and those, whoever you believe they are, behind them, have managed to relativize truth and trust, and have relaxed the rules about who is allowed to speak and with what knowledge and expertise.

We have more ‘proper’ experts invited to speak in the media, and that’s good news for scientists and academics too. More people are tuning into public service broadcasters for those old-fashioned qualities; balance and verification. The Advertising Standards Authority is also beginning to crack down on misleading web ads for COVID-19 treatments, as reported by The Drum last week. However, this last piece of news will also add to many liberals’ concerns about the long-term negative impact on democracy of increased regulation, policing and the use of emergency crisis laws to deepen dictatorial tendencies (does anyone care about Hungary?). Finally, we know that COVID-19 is changing journalism and media production in terms of practice as well: the ways newsrooms operate, the rules of news gathering and interviewing, the screen aesthetics and on location shooting. With home schooling in full swing and likely to continue, the pandemic is also asking the creative industries, more generally, to rethink the way employees are operating. This is particularly acute in an industry where the practice of long shifts has forever disadvantaged women. Will the future of women in journalism and media be better or worse following this crisis? I will gladly leave that baton there for someone else to take up and run with. Dr Ruxandra Trandafoiu is Reader in Communication and ISR Fellow at Edge Hill University.

However, it is not all bad news. It means we need verified and verifiable journalism more than ever. There is evidence that consumption of local news – not long ago a weakening and on-its-way-out branch of journalism – is increasing, as people are keen to understand the pandemic realities of their local areas.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Coronavirus and Calais refugees: How can you stay safe without soap? 5th May 2020 Dr Mike Stoddart “There is sickness and we can’t wash our hands” – Iranian refugee. has been in lockdown since 16 F rance March with strict rules limiting movement outside homes but what does this mean if you haven’t actually got a home? There are around 1200 refugees living rough in the pas-de-Calais region. They are in constant fear about their health and supplies of food and water as COVID-19 takes away much of the support they had. Care4Calais (C4C) is a volunteer run charity delivering essential aid and support to refugees across Northern France and Belgium. It is a charity well known to many staff and students at Edge Hill who have raised funds or worked for the charity as volunteers. These refugees live in very poor conditions, exposed to the elements with a poor diet and a lack of readily available medical care. They are now living in constant fear of the virus due to the lack of running water and soap. An emergency appeal by Care4Calais recently resulted in a fast response from three companies, The House of Botanicals (a gin distillery in Aberdeen), International Water Solutions in Romford and L’Oréal Paris. However, there is a constant need to replenish supplies as the French authorities deny access to running water for washing. Since the start of the lockdown, many of the NGOs who previously provided essential support to these already vulnerable people have made the difficult, but understandable decision to suspend their operations. One of these, Refugee Community Kitchen had provided hot meals to refugees in the area every single day since December 2015.

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Recently, C4C surveyed 150 refugees across Calais and Dunkirk to gather data on the impacts of Covid-19. The results are interesting. Almost half (48%) of those surveyed have been in Calais for three months or less. This is a reminder of how transitory the population is. It contrasts with ideas of a ‘permanent’ unwanted presence in the region. Coronavirus was a primary concern for only 14 of the 150 refugees who responded. Nearly three times as many said they were most fearful for their most basic needs of food, sanitation, shelter or clothing. How can this be? Perhaps when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, a potential illness no matter how threatening, becomes secondary. As the lockdown has continued, C4C has had to focus almost entirely on supplying food. The regular distribution of clean clothes and supplies of washing facilities more or less ceased resulting in many refugees having to survive wearing the same dirty clothes for weeks. This has resulted in a rise of conditions associated with a lack of basic hygiene. The need for clean clothing including footwear is a major concern for the refugees while C4C’s ability to meet this need has been compromised by the difficulties in obtaining donations and the lack of volunteers needed to deliver them.

C4C’s survey also showed that most people (86%) had serious reservations about using the shelters set up by the French authorities. This was mostly because the refugees knew this would mean abandoning their dreams of reaching the UK but also because they feared heightened exposure to coronavirus in confined spaces. The refugees are in more need than ever before. Dr Mike Stoddart is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education and a member of the Action for Refugees Network at Edge Hill University.


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Lockdown and Educational Inequality: Some Reflections 5th May 2020 Dr Francis Farrell n 1970, Basil Bernstein famously wrote that education cannot compensate for society.

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Bernstein may have been writing fifty years ago, but recent reports on the impact of school closures on disadvantaged children and young people resonate with his conclusions. Despite decades of government rhetoric about inclusion, the empirical reality of social inequality has been exposed by the pandemic. Elena Magrini (2020), describes the impact of school closures as a ‘learning loss’ that will likely have greatest impact on the most disadvantaged children. The result is a likely widening of the ‘education gap’. To their credit, the government has responded to this educational crisis through a commitment to provide disadvantaged children with laptops, tablets and 4G routers. This is to be welcomed. However, the practical challenges of providing online education raises some pressing additional questions about equality and inclusion in late modern societies.

In 1992 Gilles Deleuze wrote that social inclusion is determined by possession of the ‘Password’. Nikolas Rose (2004) developed these ideas in his work Powers of Freedom. Rose draws attention to ‘circuits of inclusion’ which require constant proof of ‘legitimate identity’. Rose provides examples; computer readable passports, driving licenses with unique identification codes, social insurance numbers, bank cards. Each card provides the bearer with a virtual identity and access to certain privileges. Governments, employers, insurance companies and banks can all utilize databases to monitor individuals, provide or deny access to training, benefits or credit. To achieve an admissible existence in postmodern societies of control requires access to these circuits of inclusion, which leads us back to the issue of educational citizenship and access to educational inclusion in the lockdown.

In other words, those that have the ‘digital’ capitals and the ‘passwords’ that provide access to computers, online learning, reliable broadband provision and technological skill amongst other things. For young people and their families outside of these groups it is questionable if panicked provision of laptops and routers will enable access to wider educational inclusion in a meaningful and enduring way. What is required is a sea change in policy that leads to universal, sustainable and equitable provision for learners and families. It shouldn’t take a national emergency to refocus debate on issues of social justice and educational inclusion. Dr Francis Farrell is Senior Lecturer in Theology and Religion at Edge Hill University.

The problem is summed up by Tom Middlehurst of the Schools, Students and Teachers Network (SSAT) in an interview for the Guardian where he states that, ‘The kinds of parents who will be having discussions and making the effort with home schooling are likely to be “middle class parents”

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Re-imagining a ‘Good Society’ in the wake of COVID-19 6th May 2020 Dr Katy Goldstraw n 1909 Beatrice and Sydney Webb published The Minority Report envisioning ‘a good society’ where the state provided the basics; health, education and welfare, while civil society and the private sector offered extension to this in the form of wealth, prosperity and societal support.

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Research, conducted by myself and Professor John Diamond at Edge Hill University, into the Good Society in 2017 revealed that the strong compassionate civil society and community spirit of the Blitz has always existed; it never went away. So how can we harness this ‘spirit’ to build a vision of a Good Society post COVID-19? As part of a series of collaborative conversations with civil society groups across the United Kingdom in 2016 and 2017 John and I developed a set of three visions of a Good Society. Revisiting these now is pertinent as I feel that they can serve as a basis for re-imaging our society in the wake of the pandemic. The first is one that repairs the current welfare state, restores institutions and reimagines the Webbs’ extension ladder model, where civil society adds value to the welfare, education and health delivered directly by the State.

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The second is of a society based on strong human values of public love, care, tolerance, respect and kindness. This vision of a Good Society reignites the philosophical debate around what a Good Society might look like. By reinvesting in democracy, civil society can help to build a Good Society. To do this we need to reconsider our understanding of society as beyond that of nation state; recognising the globalised heterogeneous world in which we sit. This vision of a Good Society post COVID-19 involves listening to the expertise of people with different lived experiences, to the voices of civil society in the voluntary community and faith sectors, and re-modelling public policy framed around deliberative democracy. The third vision recognises that a Good Society develops through the recognition of heterogeneity and diversity, and from a solidarity of tolerance and respect. Hybrid organisations, experienced at integrated working, that are no longer sector specialised but expert collaborators, operating within a heterogeneous globalised world, will be the ones in this vision to create a Good Society. COVID-19 has seen the automotive industry work collaboratively to design ventilators, it has seen big pharma work collaboratively between companies to develop a vaccine. All sectors; public, private and voluntary, have responded with an unprecedented willingness and openness to collaboration. This vision of a good society would build on these collaborations and seek to develop responsible and ethical organisations that can work within integrated settings for the public good.

Thus the vision of a Good Society that could be reimaged in the wake of COVID19 is perhaps one of mutual aid, community strength and public policy, led by strong, independent voices with lived experience. Dr Katy Goldstraw is ISR Visiting Fellow.


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Slackening of Statutory Measures to Safeguard Children: An Outcome of the Coronavirus Outbreak 6th May 2020 Professor Carol Robinson lock down measures have been S ince implemented in the United Kingdom, the Secretary of State for England has exercised its powers to make changes to regulations concerned with the care planning, placement and review of services designed for some of our most vulnerable children. Specifically, changes have been made which dilute regulations relating to the protection and care of children and young people who live in residential family centres and who are cared for by foster carers. The amendments to regulations also relax requirements relating to the inspection of these services and to the planning of care arrangements for children and young people. Worryingly, the broad scope for translating these amendments into practice increases the risk of ‘looked after’ children’s rights not being acknowledged and met. On 24th April 2020 a new statutory instrument ‘The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020’ came into force and will remain in force until 25th September 2020. Changes made by this instrument amount to a watering down of previous regulations aimed to protect children cared for in stateand privately-run institutions, and in foster care. The amendments include the addition of key phrases, such as “as far as is reasonably practicable” and “where applicable” which have the effect of weakening previously mandatory requirements. For example, under Regulation 33 (2) of The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 a duty was placed on local authorities to carry out reviews of every child in care “at intervals of not more than six months”. However, under point 8 (14) of the April 2020 amendments this requirement has been substituted with “where reasonably practicable” thus removing the obligation to ensure the frequency of reviews.

Additionally, Regulation 9 of The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 states that where the registered manager or the responsible individual of a Fostering Agency is convicted of any criminal offence “that person must without delay give notice in writing to the Chief Inspector of (a) the date and place of the conviction,[and] (b) the offence of which they were convicted”. However, amendment 9 (5) of the April 2020 regulations substitutes the term “without delay” with “as soon as is reasonably practicable” thus meaning that a Foster Care Manager could be convicted for committing a criminal offence but still be managing the Fostering Agency.

Professor Carol Robinson is Professor of Children’s Rights within the Faculty of Education at Edge Hill University.

There has also been a relaxation of previously stipulated timeframes in which local authorise are required to act in order to help safeguard children. For example, under Regulation 6 of The Children’s Homes (England) Regulations 2015, there was a requirement that the care children receive “is delivered by a person who (i) has the experience, knowledge and skills to deliver that care; and (ii) is under the supervision of a person who is appropriately skilled and qualified to supervised that care”. Point 11 (2) of the 2020 amendments has altered this requirement to “as far as reasonably practicable” thus having the potential to significantly relax this statutory requirement. The loosening of regulations, albeit currently implemented for only limited period of time, could have serious consequences for around 80,000 (as estimated by Rights4children) children and young people in England living in state – and privately-run institutions, if the care they are receiving is inadequate and not suited to their needs. More reasons to worry, in already worrying times.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Temporary or Fixed? Changing Business Models in a Global Pandemic 7th May 2020 Professor Diane Holt lack of hand sanitiser to toilet F rom paper, cargo stuck in ports, crops unpicked in fields and a work force relocated to their homes; organisations and consumers are adopting new approaches to deal with these shortages. With amazing flexibility and agility some firms have shifted their business models, invested in people and processes, explored new markets and created new products, whilst others appear to be lost and floundering. Some firms have found that the key components and products they might need are just not available. This might be because their suppliers are temporarily/permanently shut down, transportation issues, or there just isn’t enough stock to meet demand. How are they managing these challenges? Going local? This might mean (re)localising their sourcing (either regional or national) even when the costs are higher. A key question would be what happens to the ‘new’ suppliers when the break in the supply chain is repaired? Will firms stay loyal to those that helped them out? Ramping up production. We see flour mills and toilet paper manufacturers etc all maxing out their production lines. Investments in short term ramp up will need to be repaid, and major alternations need to be worth the investment on a long-term basis. Flour mills and loo roll manufacturers are cleaning up right now (some literally) – but what about tomorrow? New sources of supply. Across the UK firms are reimagining their business models to meet this demand. In Scotland the Wee Farm Distillery has switched production from Gin to hand sanitiser. You can even have the refill bottle posted out – just be careful as it comes in an ex-Gin bottle! Will this become a permanent side-line, or just an opportunistic diversion?

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Extending business models. Other firms are being creative in switching their delivery modes and customer base. Wholesalers like Delifresh have moved from supplying cafes and hotels to household delivery. New items get added almost daily to their inventory. Will this investment pay off in a new customer base post this crisis? Even the big supermarkets have reimagined and invested with Morrisons quickly scaling out (with some teething issues) a click-andcollect service. Can these firms use these opportunities to take this market share long term? Investing in stockpiles. We may see firms increase their inventory. Opposite to a justin-time approach this will include costs – for storage facilities, monitoring and the cost of these stockpiled assets. Organisations need to be able to absorb these costs and to manage those inventories which might have expiry dates -like personal protective equipment. Longer term, will shareholders agree to absorb these costs? Ultimately sourcing will be a balance between risk, costs and convenience. An article in the Journal of Psychology says it takes an average 66 days to form a habit – from the first day of lockdown that’s the 27th May. So I wonder how many of these changes become permanent? Professor Diane Holt University of Leeds, Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies and contributor to the ISR/Edge Hill Business School Research Training series.


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New Realities? New Culture? What next for HR post Covid-19? 7th May 2020 Sonya Clarkson is no doubt that changes inflicted T here on the workforce, practically overnight, are unprecedented. Whilst this shows what can be achieved when there is a collective purpose, as ‘people experts’ we know the toll this takes on some individuals, those who struggle to adapt, especially when it is brought in at such a significant pace as we have seen to date. Technology has never played such an important part in all our lives and I observe how a real sense of urgency has jolted us all to get up to speed with online capabilities. This stands us in good stead to embrace the possibilities technology can bring to improving student experience, realising efficiencies and releasing capacity to enhance teaching and learning going forward. The prospect of online lectures seems more realistic than one would have thought even just two months ago! The transfer of the office/lecture theatre to the home has prompted more flexible and agile mindsets as well as raising important questions around the need for a 9-5pm Monday to Friday presence in a defined work place. This provides potential for downsizing estate, improving career progression through the availability of true work/life balance opportunities and flexibility having a positive impact on engagement and productivity levels as staff take ownership of their time (and wellbeing). However, the personal sacrifices that staff are having to make over a prolonged period of time, such as turning their homes into workplaces, long working hours, and in some cases not being able to take annual leave, cannot be underestimated. In the longer term, the relationship with the employer is bound to feel strained as a result, with resilience low and potential feelings of resentment, loss and exhaustion.

So, as we start to consider the slow easing of lockdown, it is less a return to normal and more likely an adjustment to a new reality. The increasing trend nationally of mental health issues will be exacerbated, with a workforce that is exhausted, suffered personal loss of family and colleagues, and experienced traumatic and distressing events. I am proud to have seen the value of HR highlighted during this crisis, but HR is more than an emergency service. It can make a difference in helping organisations to pick up the pieces of Covid-19 and emerge from this even stronger. As a result, there are number of elements to plan. HR needs to start asking some key initial questions to help us practically prepare for life post-Covid 19, recognising all aspects of our working practices will be affected – particularly our health and wellbeing provision, our approach to staff engagement and re-alignment of HR policies to the new working practices. It will also be important for staff to see organisations appropriately honouring those staff that have lost their lives and celebrating local heroes to rebuild morale across the workforce. We will need to consciously rebuild the culture – likely a different one – post Covid 19. Sonya Clarkson is HR Director at Edge Hill University.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Blitzed by Myths: The ‘Spirit’ of the Blitz and COVID-19 8th May 2020 Dr Roger Spalding n the current climate, particularly today, on the 75th anniversary of VE Day, and the current Prime Minister’s penchant for Churchillian rhetoric, it is perhaps inevitable that people are drawing parallels with the Second World War, the ‘Dunkirk Spirit’, the ‘Britain can take it’ response to the German ‘Blitz’, and so on. Clearly, there are many inspiring stories to be found about the experiences of the British people during the Second World War, they do not, though, give a complete picture of the British experience in those years.

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It is important to remember that information, of all sorts, was tightly controlled by the Ministry of Information. The depiction of the bodies of those killed in bombing raids was, for example, banned, and I despite working in this area for many years I have never seen any such pictures. The Ministry also banned any mention of trekking, this was the practice whereby people in areas that were under heavy aerial bombardment moved into the adjacent countryside, often spending the night sleeping under hedges and in ditches. This happened in Liverpool where some people ‘trekked’ out to places like Maghull. Referring to this practice was regarded as bad for morale. Clive Ponting suggests in his 1993 work 1940: Myth and Reality that one of the great iconic episodes of the war, the Dunkirk evacuations, was something of a shambles, rather than the orderly process that has given us the term: ‘The Dunkirk Spirit’. The presentation of this event was an early example of ‘spin’. Even at the time some people, like the authors of the 1940 pamphlet, Guilty Men, saw Dunkirk as the product of Government neglect and ineptitude, a disaster not a triumph.

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Angus Calder, in his 1992 work, The Myth of the Blitz questions the degree to which the experience of bombing created a sense of national unity, noting, among other things that Churchill and members of the Royal family were booed when they visited some bombed areas. The issue of air-raid shelters was certainly one of contention. In working class districts the population were sometimes provided with brick-built surface shelters, which offered limited protect against explosions, in London this sparked demonstrations with East Enders occupying the basement shelters of steelframed West End hotels. Rationing and evacuation were also areas of dispute. The well-to-do could, for example dine in restaurants and still purchase their rations. Those with the money could send their children across the Atlantic to friends in the US. Though ultimately not her choice – Baroness Shirley Williams and former MP for Crosby, spent the war in the United States. Those evacuated in the UK were not always welltreated by their hosts, some farmers, for example, took boys as a source of free labour. The Second World War was a multi-faceted experience; political divisions and social divisions did not disappear. Some politicians linked the war to the struggle for social reform, others linked it to the defence of the status quo, Winston Churchill, for example declared shortly after gaining the premiership that he had not become Prime Minister to preside over the dissolution of the British Empire. Some people did change their views, many historians believe more middle-class people voted Labour in 1945 than ever before. The absolute majority for Labour was, though, relatively small. Evelyn Waugh described life under Labour as like living in a country under enemy occupation. His 1945 novel, Brideshead Revisited, is partly a lament for the life of class privilege he and his kind had enjoyed in the inter-war years.

This is not written to rain on anyone’s parade, but to suggest that it is easy to get a false impression of ourselves if we rely on manufactured ideas about ourselves. History is complex and is only useful when that complexity is recognised. The Second World War did not make social divisions disappear, and neither will Covid-19 Dr Roger Spalding is Programme Leader for History at Edge Hill University. Image Photo by Unknown author – This is photograph HU 44272 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums., Public Domain


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Dig where you stand: Histories of where you live in a Global Pandemic 11th May 2020 Professor Paul Ward and community historian, I A sama public interested in how people engage with the past in their lives in the present. In an undoubtedly historic moment like a global pandemic our anxieties tend to be on the future; but the past still matters – and right now it appears to be hyperlocal. We are confined to our houses, with most of our daily activities taking place in our immediate vicinity. This has led to increased interest in local and community histories. One well established local history website in Yorkshire reported: ‘Just had a quick look at the web server stats and the number of page views during the last week alone was more than the whole of January 2020.’ Local history Facebook pages are also seeing greater interaction too, for example Old Pictures of Liverpool is getting 250 plus engagements for each of its posts of historical photographs. This suggests that people are looking more closely at the places in which they live to find out what was there before. This may be to give a sense of belonging in such a frightening and uncertain world, experienced in the homes in which we live and the streets in which we are permitted to walk. It also links to an idea about local history called ‘Dig where we stand’.

A fantastic free resource for this is available via the National Library of Scotland. They have digitised Ordnance Survey maps from the 19th and 20th centuries which enables comparing what used to there with what still exists or what has changed. This is done by overlaying historic maps with satellite imagery or contemporary maps. It’s also possible to look at census records to find out who lived in your street (but not for free). But while walking or cycling around your neighbourhood, you could just look out for traces of the past. An example near my house is all that’s left of an old zoo – the ticket office at the entrance, which is now a pizza takeaway.

Professor Paul Ward is Head of the Department of English, History and Creative Writing at Edge Hill University.

National Museums Liverpool have created the hashtag #MyHomeIsMyMuseum for 4 to 11 year olds to encourage them to make museum or gallery exhibits about their homes and their lives. Thinking about where we live in this microscopic way is important – it maintains a sense of individuality while still relating it to our social situation – our families, our houses, our neighbourhood. The pandemic maybe global and difficult to understand, but we experience it as people – and people with history. Exploring our pasts, makes our families and neighbours and our futures more valuable still.

This comes from Swedish writer, Sven Lindqvist, who argued that workers were in the best position to understand the places in which they worked and should document their histories. I think this can be linked to a desire to know who we are and how we are linked to the histories of those who lived exactly where do now.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Images in the Head; the Pervasiveness of Dreaming in Isolation 11th May 2020 Professor Geoffrey Beattie t’s day something of the lockdown and I’m surrounded by images that I don’t understand. There’s an image of a pizza that’s trying to kill me, it’s on the main news three times a day, as if on repeat. Nobody is quite sure where it came from or where it’s going. There are lots of statistics, infinite statistics, but they are just that, and when it comes to human action images always win out. So we have all these images, a malevolent pizza, an old hand peering out of the sheets, lots of tubes, space suits, respectful distances, but then glimpses of patients up close. Dying. We saw them. Not the lucky ones being applauded as they’re wheeled down the corridors but the other ones, the other half, the statistics tell us, from intensive care.

I’ve never had so many old ‘close friends’ walk back into my life, sometimes at the same time and I spend the whole dream trying to keep them apart. I’ve promised to go out for dinner with each of them at the same time (that’s last night’s dream) and I wake up sweating (surely not a night sweat?) and anxious, with the dilemma unresolved. A dream driven by repressed anxiety about loneliness and isolation, these ‘close friends’ coming back in their droves after all these years to show that I’m not alone, I’m surrounded. Images that terrify me, not about dying in a room without any psychological connection with people, but the terror of embarrassment when these ‘close friends’ finally meet. It’s good to be awake.

The only problem is that I’m not sure if I dreamt these images. They weren’t repeated, they must have been censored out, if they were ever broadcast in the first place. Like everyone else my dreams are disturbed – long, vivid, colourful dreams every night, always remembered in the morning – so odd.

I go for a run in my socially-distanced bubble. The streets are full of runners. I’ve never seen so many and I run every day. But these are strange times, there’s none of that runners’ nod and smile of recognition. I’m anonymous, even without any mask. I’m not connecting, none of us are. The images of the wicked pizza and the hacking coughs have got through to us all.

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Dreams (from the Bible onwards) so much a part of everyday, consequential real life. Either, the brain just shuffling through the files of the day for better storage or the repressed unconscious breaking through in great Freudian symbolic forms. Open to interpretation.

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Fear can work for behaviour change when it’s ladled on like this. But what’s it going to be like afterwards? How do you remove that fear? I’ve heard some pundits talk about the rise of nationalism, but one can imagine a return to stranger, even earlier times, the psychology of the small group, the comfort of the tribe, the pull of the familiar, the closeness of the family, that’s when you feel safe.

I bump into some friends and acquaintances from my gym, shrinking before my very eyes, searching the grey streets of Salford for some half-finished building to do some pull-ups or push-ups. I’ve seen all the work that they’ve put in over many years in that gym to build themselves into temples. And the temples have crumbled down before us all. The businesses that they run, and the years of hard graft behind all that, are never mentioned, they don’t have to be. I just look at the physical image and see enough. It will take years to recover, to get back to what we once had. The harsh reality – not a dream. Geoffrey Beattie is Professor Psychology at Edge Hill University.

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Citizen Science to tackle Poor Air Quality post COVID-19 12th May 2020 Dr Thomas Bryer COVID-19 virus causes respiratory T heillnesses that can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome, which in some cases requires a ventilator for survival, and may cause permanent lung damage (Cox 2020). Therefore, it is possible that COVID-19 will result in an increased number of individuals who are sensitive to poor air quality. Preliminary research on COVID-19 has found that patients in areas with higher levels of fine air particulates, known as PM2.5, are more likely to die from a COVID-19 infection than patients in areas with cleaner air quality (Wu et al. 2020). It has also been proposed in a recent study published in Nature (Liu et al. 2020) that COVID-19 may have the potential to be transmitted through aerosols, which includes PM2.5, thus contributing to the spread of the disease in certain areas. As has been the case in other elements of COVID-19 response, local agencies play an important role in protecting and prioritizing public health. For example, using the same reduction in death rates and PM2.5 concentration data from the Harvard study (Wu et al. 2020), we find that a 1 microgram per cubic meter reduction in long-term PM2.5 averaged over 2000-2016 in New York City (approximately 8%) could have saved 2,644 lives that were lost to COVID19 as of April 29, 2020. This could bring the death rate from COVID-19 cases down from the current rate of 10.3% to 8.8% in New York City, closer to the national average of 5.4% mortality rate, based on known positive cases.

To achieve these kinds of PM2.5 reductions, we recommend creation of Air Quality Enhancement Districts (AQED) in high risk neighborhoods and communities. Three core principles guide the enactment of AQEDs: 1. Democratization of air quality data and empowerment of residents to use the data. 2. Resident awareness of pollution within their neighborhoods, and vulnerability to disease. 3. Policy change driven by residents with local governments who are empowered and mobilized through data and awareness. Low-cost air quality sensors enable genuine public participation in air quality monitoring, where affected or concerned communities and stakeholders can be involved throughout the entire process, such as monitor location selection, sensor deployment, data collection and results dissemination (English et al. 2017). Such a community-engaged approach not only addresses the needs of the general public related to air quality, but it also provides new avenues for public education, advances citizen science, and contributes to sustainable social development (Conrad and Hilchey, 2011). Air Quality Enhancement Districts with lowcost air quality sensors can provide important information for citizens to make better health-based decisions during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Since COVID-19 has been linked to higher mortality rates and causes permanent lung damage in some survivors, local air quality will be increasingly important in communities hardest hit by COVID-19. These urban, poor, or underrepresented communities tend to have higher levels of air pollution and exposure due to industry, traffic, wildfires, construction, or other sources.

Using more highly distributed and accessible air quality sensors in an equitably designed AQED will empower citizens and communities to make better health-based decisions to mitigate further damage from COVID-19. Dr Thomas Bryer is Professor of Public Administration at the University of Central Florida, and ISR Visiting Fellow. He is joined here by his colleagues at Professor Kelly Stevens, and Professor Haofei Yu. References: Conrad, C.C. and K.G. Hilchey. 2011. A review of citizen science and community-based environmental monitoring: issues and opportunities. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 176(1-4): 273-291. Cox, D. 2020, April 27. Some patients who survive COVID-19 may suffer lasting lung damage. ScienceNews. English, P.B., L. Olmedo, E. Bejarano, H. Lugo, E. Murillo, E. Seto, M. Wong, G. King, A. Wilkie, D. Meltzer, and G. Carvlin. 2017. The Imperial County Community Air Monitoring Network: a model for community-based environmental monitoring for public health action. Environmental Health Perspectives 125(7): 074501. Liu, Y., Z. Ning, Y. Chen, M. Guo, Y. Liu, N. Kumar Gali, L. Sun, Y. Duan, J. Cai, D. Westerdahl, X. Liu, K. Xu, K. Ho, H. Kan, Q. Fu, and K. Lan. 2020. Aerodynamic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in two Wuhan hospitals. Nature. Wu, X., R. C. Nethery, B. M. Sabath, D. Braun, and F. Dominici. 2020. Exposure to air pollution and COVID19 mortality in the United States: A nationwide cross sectional study. medRxiv 2020.04.05.20054502. Preprint.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

COVID-19 and Child Abuse in Institutions 13th May 2020 Dr Mike Hartil implications of measures taken to T hereduce the impact the lockdown for children (and adults) who reside with violent, abusive or exploitative partners and family members have been widely highlighted. For those in such circumstances, ‘keeping the NHS safe’ and ‘saving lives by staying at home’ comes at a very high price. It is well recognised that the majority of child abuse occurs in the home. However, government inquiries into child abuse within institutional settings have been ongoing since the early 1990s. The current national inquiry (see IICSA) into sexual abuse within institutions in England and Wales has been running since 2014. At the Centre for Child Protection and Safeguarding in Sport, our research focuses on abuse and maltreatment in sport contexts. In my research with ‘survivors’ of child sexual abuse in sport, I hear repeatedly how they felt trapped within the relationship and unable to tell anyone about the abuse they were experiencing. For some, home was a sanctuary that offered some temporary respite. So, for at least some children and young people experiencing abuse, home isolation and ‘social distancing’ may feel like a dream come true rather than their worst nightmare.

For any type of abuse, including that perpetrated online, opportunity is fundamental. Often (but not always) the opportunity to be physically close to a child, in an isolated space, is a key facilitating factor. Thus whilst close proximity with those outside the home is currently restricted, there may be a small window of opportunity to break the connection between some children and their abusers, permanently.

Specialist organisations provide useful support on talking to children and young people and identifying signs of sexual abuse and exploitation. Further safeguarding advice, information and resources relating to COVID-19 are also available from the GOV.UK website. If you’re worried that a child or young person is at risk or is being abused contact the children’s social care team at their local council.

Families are crucial to this. But – if you are a parent/guardian of a child who is being sexually abused or exploited, it is highly likely that your child will have made the decision to conceal what is happening to them. An abused child’s life becomes a near permanent exercise in deception. They quickly learn to employ all their creative resources to prevent those closest to them from discovering their secret. Of course, this does not mean they aren’t desperately searching for a way to escape the abuse. Enforced social distancing may have presented some children with an alternative version of their reality. A glimpse of something different, better. Undoubtedly their abuser(s) will be working hard to maintain their hold, to keep the child trapped within their version of reality. Children who find themselves in a sexually or physically abusive relationship outside the home are hopefully experiencing some relief. But as they observe our determined national efforts to ‘return to normal’, they also sense this will be short-lived.

Dr Mike Hartill is Director of the Centre for Child Protection and Safeguarding in Sport (CPSS) at Edge Hill University.

So, for some children, the current crisis does present an opportunity, but it is one that adults – within and beyond the family – must take advantage of.

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The Road to Nowhere? Tourism after Covid-19 13th May 2020 Dr Duncan Light don’t have to look far to see that the W eimpact of the Covid-19 pandemic on tourism has been both enormous and catastrophic. All resorts, hotels, restaurants, campsites and visitor attractions are closed, and there are few flights. Tourism as we know it has totally ground to a halt. How will tourism recover? This all depends on the timing of the lockdown – if it is lifted in the UK by the summer then parts of the domestic tourism industry will probably be able to recover quickly. There is likely to be a staycation boom, albeit focussed on accommodation which allows social distancing – such as holiday cottages, canal boats and caravans. Furthermore, this will be concentrated at destinations – the countryside and coast – which enable tourists to avoid large crowds. Urban tourism – with its high densities of tourists – will take longer to recover. Visitor attractions may be able to salvage part of the season, although tourists are likely to be cautious about gathering where there are large numbers of other people. Social distancing within attractions will be the norm, at least in the medium term; some attractions will struggle to accommodate this new requirement. On the other hand, international tourism is unlikely to recover quickly. Countries will be cautious about opening their borders to allow tourists to enter, possibly requiring visitors to provide some form of proof that they are not infected with Covid-19. At the same time, tourists themselves may be cautious about travelling abroad particularly to those countries that recorded high rates of Covid-19 infection. This, of course, has implications for inbound tourism to the UK.

Certain sectors of tourism will be hit particularly hard. Faced with a shrinking of international travel many airlines will struggle. Furthermore, the combination of lower demand and fewer carriers will mean higher ticket prices: the era of cheap air travel is over, at least in the medium term. Airlines will also have to adapt to requirements for social distancing. Already EasyJet is talking of not using the middle seat on its planes (although Ryanair has reacted derisively to this proposal). Another likely casualty of the pandemic will be the cruise industry. The nightmarish stories of Covid-19 on board cruise liners will mean that tourists will hesitate before booking cruise holidays. The cruise industry may have to adapt through developing lowdensity cruises, taking in destinations where there are no large crowds. Similarly business tourism will look very different. Both the expected global recession and higher air fares will reduce demand for business travel, but what may be more significant is that face-to-face business meetings are less essential in a context where it has proved possible to work effectively through videoconferencing.

More broadly, high-density warm-weather mass tourism destinations will struggle to attract customers. The future of tourism may turn out to be slow tourism, where a tourist takes part in low-density, lowmovement holidays which involve connecting more deeply with a place. The tourism industry has been talking about sustainable tourism for several decades but it has made conspicuously little progress in achieving it. A small silver lining to what will be a beleaguered industry, maybe the realisation of a form of low-density, lowcarbon, low-impact, small-scale tourism that is genuinely sustainable. Dr Duncan Light is Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management at Bournemouth University.

There may be unexpected outcomes of the Covid-19 crisis. One of the mostpublicised phenomena of the past decade has been over-tourism (excessive tourism numbers generating hostile reactions among local populations) although there is no consensus on whether over-tourism is a genuine problem or simply a media construction. Whatever the case, overtourism is likely to be a thing of the past; destinations such as Venice and Barcelona are unlikely to return quickly to the overcrowding they experienced in 2019.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Constructing a ‘New Normal’: What Changes when it’s all over? 14th May 2020 Dr Simon Dickinson will life be like once ‘normality’ W hat returns? Without needing to resort to crystal-ball gazing, it is obvious that whatever normality emerges, it will be a form of a ‘new normal’. We will be required to negotiate radically altered public health and economic conditions, as well as new complex emotional geographies. So here, I want to briefly refer to the disaster and emergencies literature to think about some of the experiences, and challenges of, constructing a ‘new normal’. First, the pandemic is most obviously, like disaster recovery, both a public health and a social problem. In some instances, the ‘new normal’ might involve challenging historic inequalities and outdated modes of ‘doing’ politics. Yet while Rebecca Solnit has examine the novel forms of community that emerge post-disaster, a common challenge for these emergent networks is finding ways of generating momentum and to embed those traces of positive change in post-disaster landscape. Note, there is strong evidence that they rarely persist! In other instances, negotiating a ‘new normal’ will mean encountering the inevitable challenges that emerge from a ‘relief’ orientated system. Disasters are often characterised by an onset of immediate relief response (including mass resource mobilisation and availability of emergency funding), followed by difficulties in acknowledging and responding to its longer-term implications.

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While disasters might prompt social learnings as we encounter the opportunities and challenges of constructing new normal, there is unfortunately little evidence to suggest that governments learn sufficiently from such events. Ilan Kelman, a prominent disaster risk reduction expert, notes that, despite “response being more expensive than precaution, and precaution is cheaper than cure; there is little political appetitive to invest heavily in emergency preparedness”. Such lack of appetite sees Lee Clarke and Thomas Birkland call evaluations of emergency response ‘fantasy documents’: documents that are not generally about the ‘real’ causes and solutions to disasters; rather, they are generated to prove that some authoritative actor has ‘done something’ about learning from an event. Unfortunately, the current examinations of Exercise Cygnus – the government pandemic simulation that led to the conclusion that a pandemic would cause the NHS to collapse – lends limited confidence to the idea that a ‘new normal’ will be more aptly or inclusively governed. Important questions remain as to how these evaluations can contribute to a ‘new normal’ that enables us to effectively negotiate these possible trajectories, and subsequently can be imagined as more hopeful.

Dr Simon Dickinson is a Lecturer in Human Geography at Edge Hill University.


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Pandemics, Prohibition and the Past: COVID-19 in Historical Perspective 14th May 2020 Professor Kevern Verney Coronavirus epidemic may be T hewithout precedent in living memory, but global pandemics are nothing new. In the sixth century AD the ‘Plague of Justinian’, an outbreak of bubonic plague, killed around 25 million people in Europe and Asia. The best known pandemic, the ‘Black Death’ of 1348-9, is thought to have killed up to 50 million people in Europe, or 60 per cent of the population. In 1918-19 the ‘Spanish Flu’ claimed the lives of 50-100 million worldwide, more than were killed in the First World War. By comparison circa 250,000 global deaths (at the time of writing) seems small in comparison. Fear created by the alarming death rates of past pandemics was compounded by the fact that medical science was unable to identify the cause of contagion. In 1918 doctors attributed the source of the flu to a bacteria rather than a virus. In earlier pandemics things were even worse. Bubonic plague was seen as a form of divine punishment, or a disease spread by a poisonous miasma rather than flea infested rats. The measures introduced by public authorities to contain infection were varied. Some restrictions sound familiar. In A Journal of the Plague Year in London, 1665-6, Daniel Defoe recalled that ‘all plays, bearbaiting, games, singing of ballads, public feasting’ and ‘tippling houses’ were prohibited. Churches remained open, but with appropriate social distancing, people going in ‘single at all times’ and ‘locking themselves into separate pews’. Public spaces became ‘so desolate’ that ‘grass grew upon the streets’.

Self-isolation was enforced. Those infected with plague were confined to their homes with other members of the household and a red cross painted on the door. Nobody was allowed to leave until all within had either recovered or died, with a cart going around the streets after dark to collect the dead.

Kevern Verney is Professor of History and Associate Dean Research for the Faculty of Arts and Science at Edge Hill University. Image: “Bring Out Your Dead” A street during the Great Plague in London, 1665, with a death cart and mourners. Image: Wellcome in Creative Commons

Albeit harsh in the extreme, such restrictions may have helped contain the spread of disease. In contrast the draconian proclamation that all dogs and cats be killed, as a potential source of infection, was, at best, misguided. The resulting destruction of some forty thousand dogs and two hundred thousand cats had one predictable outcome, ‘a prodigious multitude’ of ‘mice and rats’. Then, as now, there was much discussion about the need for a test to determine who was infected. One suggestion was that physicians inhale the breath of suspected plague bearing persons as it had a distinctive smell. A proposition that, even if true, had at least one obvious drawback. If the current lockdown seems depressing there is, perhaps, some consolation in the thought that pandemics of the past were much worse. Similarly, if the thought of being unable to go to a pub or a wine bar for the foreseeable future is hard to bear, then spare a thought for American drinkers a hundred years ago. No sooner had they emerged from the horrors of the First World War and the ‘Spanish Flu’, than the introduction of Prohibition, in January 1920, banned the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol for more than a decade. At least Prohibition is unlikely to be repeated!

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Flattening the Acceptance Curve: Transitioning a more Inclusive World after COVID-19 15th May 2020 Dr Themis Karaminis of lockdown on our daily life T hehasimpact been dramatic. We had to suddenly abandon our routines. Even those privileged with good health and steady employment have experienced severe disruptions. We had to undertake extraordinary tasks while socially-isolating, such as transitioning to online work and/or home-schooling. We have had to revise plans, goals, expectations. We have had to come to terms with omnipresent fluidity and uncertainty. We do not know if we are approaching the peak of the infamous curve we collectively aim to flatten or how the pandemic will unfold onwards. There is also a lot of uncertainty about the psychological, social, economic and political ramifications of this crisis. As a result, most of us now show signs of fatigue. In the beginning, people might have recognised opportunities in this crisis – to slow down, reflect, spend more time with family, bond with their children, organise their households. As the crisis unfolds, however, we are accruing experiences of loneliness, boredom, tension in family relationships, failure in our home-schooling endeavours. But these effects are small in comparison to the potential long-term impact on those with disability.

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How will the prolonged social isolation, and continuous exposure to uncertainty or health-risk messages affect mental health in vulnerable groups, such as children and adults with neurodevelopmental conditions? How will the compromised diagnostic, support and school services affect their wellbeing and learning outcomes? How could these effects be mitigated? There is an urgent need for widely available, effective interventions, tailored to the developmental and cognitive profiles and individual needs of vulnerable groups. How will the employment prospects of individuals with neurodevelopmental conditions be affected in an anticipated era of recession? How could neuro-diverse individuals, who often struggle securing a job, be supported? Could the recent experience of extensive use of remote and flexible working patterns be applied to maintain and broaden so-called neurodiversity employment programmes? In these unusual times of unprecedented social isolation, we can learn a lot from marginalised groups, “the real experts of the lock-down”. For example, adaptations and strategies used by autistic people to deal with uncertain situations and address their sensory or social needs are useful to everyone struggling with their lockdown routines. Neuro-diverse people are also a fantastic community.

In the UK, the autism community has advocated for and achieved the relaxation of lockdown rules for autistic people and other vulnerable groups. We all need to contribute to the collective flattening of the curve based on our strengths. Adversities due the COVID-19 pandemic help us develop a better understanding of the life experiences and challenges of vulnerable groups. We should take the opportunity to transition to a more accepting, inclusive and sustainable world post-COVID-19. Dr Themis Karaminis is Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader BSc (Hons) Psychology at Edge Hill University.


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How to Stay ‘Engaged’ at a Distance: Youth Work and COVID-19 18th May 2020 Elizabeth Harding work is all about engaging with Y outh young people, engaging them because it is what they want and exploring things that they are interested in. For many, the relationship with their youth worker is the only one where they’re recognised in their own right. Recent research has shown that two million young people need such direct support. So how have youth workers continued to give that support during this time of social distancing? The overwhelming response has been to pivot online. A monumental effort has been put into holding meetings, debates, competitions and one-to-one sessions over PCs, laptops, tablets and smart phones. The degree to which this has been successful is still unclear. There is anecdotal evidence that levels of engagement are dropping with some young people not joining in online at all. On the other hand, the digital offer seems to suit those for whom physical engagement was always tricky, for example young people in rural areas with transport challenges, and those with disabilities. What we have learnt is what we always knew; that relationships are fundamental to youth work, and where there is a pre-existing relationship online contact has largely been maintained. There have been many hurdles to overcome, not least safeguarding and risk adverse local authorities.

Youth work hasn’t completely disappeared from our streets. Some buildings, in one or two areas, are very slowly being opened up for one-to-one sessions for those young people deemed to be the most vulnerable. Detached work, going out and meeting young people where they are, is still happening. It is now, though, more from a safeguarding perspective, finding out why young people are out, whether they are aware of and adhering to the lockdown guidelines, whether they need support… physical, economic or mental. For some in the sector the move online is long overdue and they point out we are way behind our European colleagues. Others worry it will take away from the face-to-face contact that has been the key feature of youth work for so long. Such questions about what youth work should look like in a post Covid19 world are starting to preoccupy youth workers. Many of them work in local authorities, charities or the voluntary sector, all of which face a hugely uncertain future. Elizabeth Harding is the former CEO of Youth Focus NW, she is a Visiting Fellow of the Institute for Social Responsibility, and now a freelance consultant with a focus and interest in youth work.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

“Coming Out” and Covid-19 18th May 2020 Dr Chris Greenough 17th May 2020 was International S unday Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. It is significant that this year this falls when many LGBTQ+ people are in lock down with their families or relatives to whom they have not disclosed their selfidentities. Back in April 2020, during the initial stages of the coronavirus lockdown, the LGBT+ and homeless charity, The Albert Kennedy Trust, advised young people not to come out until the pandemic has passed. The charity specifically supports LGBTQ+ young people aged 16-25 in the UK who are facing or experiencing homelessness or living in a hostile environment. LGBTQ+ people make up 25% of all youth homeless people; so staying silent on one’s sexuality or gender, even with its emotional toll, seems preferable at this time. ‘Coming out’ has been romanticised into a celebratory event that offers freedom of expression and reinforces the love between friends and families of the LGBTQ+ person. The relationship to the closet renders visible what has previously been hidden. For some, the act of coming out actualises sexuality and activates authenticity of self. Coming out to oneself and others therefore disrupts the prevailing silence perpetrated by homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. Yet, coming out should not be idealised, and it is not desirable in all contexts. The closet is also a safe space. Moreover, coming out is not a single act, it is strategically repeated and managed throughout an individual’s life course. It is therefore multi-dimensional and multidirectional.

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Jason Orne’s work demonstrates how coming out is often tactical where risk is assessed and planned beforehand. He explores the concept of ‘strategic outness – the contextual and continual management of identity – to emphasise the role of social context in sexual identity disclosure’ (2011: 681). Being out is selective: young people may be out to their friends, at university or to chosen groups, but that does not necessarily mean they are out to everyone. Legislation in the UK does not treat LGBT family rejection as domestic abuse, thereby preventing vulnerable people from securing emergency housing. At a time when the pride flag comes to symbolise hope for the NHS and is displayed in the windows of many houses, sadly many young people are behind the very same windows working out and wrestling with who they are. Dr Chris Greenough is Senior Lecturer in Theology and Religion at Edge Hill University.

References: Orne, J. 2011 ‘You will always have to “out” yourself: Reconsidering coming out through strategic outness’. Sexualities, 14(6), 681–703.


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We Make the Road by Walking: A ‘Kinder’ Society after COVID-19? 19th May 2020 Dr Mary McAteer “In December 1987, Myles Horton and Paolo Freire, two pioneers of education for social change, came together to ‘talk a book’ about their experiences and ideas” (Bell, Gaventa & Peters, 1990. p xv) he seminal book that ensued, ‘We Make

Road by Walking’, marked a major T the landmark in the development of

participatory education for the empowerment of the poor and powerless. The work of Horton and Freire provided an underpinning democratic and democratising epistemology which guided the work of the Highlander Folk School, (later to be called the Highlander Centre) and continues to influence participatory and democratic education processes to the present day. Resonating with the work of Fals-Borda and Rahman (1991), and de Sousa Santos (2007), it provokes us to imagine different, more socially just concepts of knowledges, their creation, and their value/valuing. In relation to this, Freire suggested that for this to happen, required a renewed understanding of knowledge and power. The people’s knowledge, which he calls ‘organic’ knowledge, is interwoven with and derived from their experiences and practices.

More than ever in recent history, we are having to make our road by walking. With the imposed partial lockdown, there is growing evidence of the ways in which many people have found positives in the experience by finding new, and often better ways, to live their lives both in family and community contexts.

Dr Mary McAteer is Senior Lecturer in Professional Learning at Edge Hill University.

Within hours of the lockdown being announced, social media platforms across the UK were advertising community-based mutual aid groups, with contact details being collated and shared on an open google document. This rapidly became a way of mutualising skills and knowledge across communities within an ethos of care. My own local group quickly became full of offers to ‘shop and drop’, help with gardening, collect medicines, etc. Despite being seemingly disempowered in relation to the way we had previously led our lives, this community-based initiative developed a sense of power and authority that was rooted in their own contextual knowledge and skill sets. Of interest also, was the ways in which our highly complex society began to explore and redefine itself. The media carried daily accounts of the fact that people had taken up gardening and growing edibles, of an increase in arts and crafting, a return to reading (usually paper rather than electronic texts), and an increase in shared family meals, cooked from scratch. Our collective actions and voices at this time speak to the hope of a kinder, and better world. This is an opportunity to reimagine society, and how we construct it.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Everyday Creativity: Why the Arts need to Rethink What Matters 19th May 2020 Nick Ewbank public health expert Michael G lobal Marmot warned recently that the pandemic will make health inequalities worse. If this is the case, then how can we ensure that the arts become part of the solution? The 2017 Creative Health report outlined the extensive range of ways in which the arts supports health outcomes, yet the report conceded that only a “small modicum” of the potential contribution of the arts is currently being realised. So why are we failing to grasp the full potential of the arts in contributing to good health? The WHO Health Evidence Network’s first Scoping Review on Arts, Health and Wellbeing synthesized evidence from over 3,000 studies. It identified “a major role for the arts in the prevention of ill health, promotion of health, and management and treatment of illness across the lifespan”. But, despite progress, the fundamental processes underpinning the relationship between the arts and health are not yet well understood. Moreover, narrow, and often circular, definitions of the ‘arts’, limit awareness of their potential in this sphere, and often reinforce democratic deficits in access to publicly funded culture.

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Yet the pandemic appears to have transcended this, as we see everyday creativity being played out in real time. Thousands of people have developed and showcased their creative skills in a huge variety of symbolic and productive forms, helping themselves through the stresses of lockdown. It’s this concept – of everyday creativity – that we need to focus on defining, in readily understandable terms. These are extremely challenging times for the arts sector, but there are great opportunities too. If we can grasp the nettle of what David Jubb calls “fundamental structural change” and put the nurturing of creativity in people’s homes, communities and work environments at the heart of cultural policy, the rewards could be considerable. It’s not clear what appetite there is for such a radical change, but do we know that times of great stress can lead to shifts in the paradigm. As we begin to shape an unknown ‘new normal’, we need a big debate, drawing in perspectives from across research disciplines, policymakers and wider society. The initial goal should be to reach a shared, science-based understanding of the central importance of everyday creativity in our lives. Beyond that, we need to map out a Whole-of-Government approach, designed to place everyday creativity at the heart of a resilient, sustainable, caring society that supports, protects and nurtures the health and wellbeing of all its citizens.

Nick Ewbank is the Chair of the ISR External Advisory Group. He runs the cultural regeneration consultancy Nick Ewbank Associates.


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Emerging from Lockdown: Shared Experience as we (re)commune together 20th May 2020 Professor Amanda Fulford late March we have been S ince separated from those whom we love, our friends and even our business acquaintances. We stand two metres apart in our shopping queues. We see poignant, yet often painful, pictures on our televisions of grandparents with spread hands on panes of glass trying to ‘meet’ their grandchildren. On our daily walks out, we actively try to avoid those walking towards us; we step into the road and apologise, or cross over to avoid any kind of contact. In all these different forms of interaction, we are worried about our vulnerability when coming into contact with others. Stories on the news about continuing death rates from the virus running into the hundreds each day, does little to ease the nagging doubts. In his book Creative Fidelity, first published in 1964, the French philosopher, drama critic and playwright, Gabriel Marcel, reflects on how, as human beings, we are in relation to others. Of course, Marcel was not writing during a global pandemic, but he was writing at a time when he saw an increasing tendency towards our human relationships being marked by a kind of utility, resulting in forms of what we might call distancing. In trying to counter such tendencies, he argues for relationships marked by openness to others, and which are signified by a certain exposure or vulnerability that he refers to as ‘porosity’ or ‘permeability’.

To encounter another, he writes, is to, ‘devote our attention to the act of hospitality…Hospitality is a gift of what is one’s own. i.e. of oneself’ Gabriel Marcel, Creative Fidelity (p. 28) While we are rightly constrained from offering hospitality to each other in the way in which we commonly understand it (inviting people into our homes, sharing meals, and so on), Marcel is thinking more of a kind of hospitality to the other which he describes as disponibilité, commonly translated as ‘availability’. Being available – freely, emotionally, temporally – has still been possible to do.

Perhaps it’s almost impossible, at the moment, to think of relationships in Marcel’s terms; but perhaps it has never been more urgent and important. Professor Amanda Fulford is the Associate Dean Research in the Faculty of Education at Edge Hill University.

As restrictions are eased, there is a risk that as we relate to each other, we will be warier, or in Marcel’s words, we will be ‘present, yet in a mode of absence’ (p. 33). What is clear, though, is that the possibilities for what Marcel calls our ‘communion’ with each other will be based on our shared experiences. As he writes: ‘What brings me closer to another being and really binds me to him [sic]… Is the thought that he has passed to the same difficulties as I have, that he has undergone the same dangers… It is only in these terms that a meaningful content can be ascribed to the term fraternity’ Gabriel Marcel, Creative Fidelity (p. 8)

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Covid-19: An Opportunity for Nature and Outdoor Education 21st May 2020 Cait Talbot-Landers March headline stories have S ince abounded across news outlets suggesting the positive impact that the decline in human activity, as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown, is having upon the natural world. The National Geographic (April 2020) reported ‘carbon omissions are crashing’ and forecast a 9% drop in Europe this year, elsewhere observations were recorded about skies and coastal waters appearing bluer and the return of wildlife to our urban environments. Whilst these are all welcome, they are likely to be undone as fast as they have emerged; if we return to our existing lifestyles. Home schooling during lockdown has provided one significant and hopeful opportunity for our interconnectedness with nature to be better understood. Wildlife organisations such as the RSPB (May 2020) have reported substantially increased social media traffic to their resources and news coverage provides testimony to a growing engagement with gardening, bird watching and interest in wildlife. The Guardian (May 1st, 2020) reported that “pavement chalking to draw attention to wildflowers and plants in urban areas had gone viral across Europe” just one example of parents valuing and using nature for home schooling. This within a context of a society that has increasingly become disconnected from nature (The Natural Childhood Report, 2013).

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David Sobel (1996) points out in Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education that, “If we want children to flourish, we need to give them time to connect with nature and love the Earth before we ask them to save it.” An abundance of research by (Chawla: 2006, Wells and Lekkies 2006) demonstrates how pro environmental behaviours can be developed through providing children with regular contact with nature and with adults who hold positive environmental attitudes. Lockdown has enabled many families to experience the value of nature and this now requires building upon more rigorously by schools and teachers, as society emerges out of Lockdown. Effective practice is key to the successful achievement of this aim. Schools will require quality guidance and access to Current professional Development in order to embed researched informed processes. Initial Teacher Education will need to prioritise this on their programme in order to equip new teachers with the knowledge and skills to support school partnerships in the future. The new OFSTED School Inspection Framework (2019) with a renewed focus on schools ‘meeting the needs of their community’ and providing a broad curriculum to children provides official support for this action…

The social climate is perhaps now more conducive than ever in supporting our schools and curriculum in prioritising the environment and recognising the role of outdoor education in enabling us as a society to make the changes we need to build a new revised relationship with the natural world. This would be a lesson well learnt from the Covid-19 crisis. Cait Talbot-Landers is Senior Lecturer in Learning Outside the Classroom Primary Education at Edge Hill University


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Epidemics: A View from Italy 21st May 2020 Professor George Talbot taly’s first two cases of the coronavirus pandemic were confirmed on 30 January 2020 by the Istituto Spallanzani which specializes in infectious diseases, the first research centre in Europe in fact to isolate the genomic sequence of COVID-19. The patients were a couple of Chinese tourists, both of whom had recovered by 26 February. Just over a week earlier, on 18 February, the first case of secondary transmission was recorded at Codogno, a small town outside Milan, in the Plain of Lombardy. Over half of the deaths in Italy attributed to COVID-19 have occurred in that region, one of Italy’s wealthiest.

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Italy was the first European country to go into lockdown, with some other western countries learning lessons from its experience; others not. The experience of isolation may have led some Italians to reflect on the book they will all have read (at least parts of) in school, Alessandro Manzoni’s I promessi sposi (The Betrothed), a sweeping historical novel which has as its backdrop an epidemic in the hinterland of Milan. Two chapters of the novel (31 and 32 for those who want to dig deeper) are dedicated to the plague year of 1630 and indeed Manzoni expanded them into an independent work, Storia della colonna infame (History of the Monument of Shame), which tells a tale of authorities slow to appreciate the size of the problem, slow to act, and then rather swifter to deflect blame.

The 1630 outbreak of bubonic plague – aka The Plague of Milan – during Lombardy’s long Spanish (Hapsburg) domination, was filtered through the religious lens of God’s punishment on the ungodly, with barefooted processions through the city streets – the antithesis of social distancing – caused the infection to spread exponentially. In all of this misery there circulated rumour and suspicion. Stories gained currency of certain ‘smearers’ (‘untori’) who, it was alleged, engaged in nocturnal smearing of deadly unguents around the city of Milan, on door handles and other surfaces to spread the contagion. The Spanish authorities, rather than displaying good sense and proper leadership, had suspects identified, rounded up, horribly tortured and publicly executed.

Prior to his appointment as Dean of Arts & Sciences, and subsequently Pro ViceChancellor (Research) at Edge Hill University, George Talbot was Professor of Italian at the University of Hull.

Manzoni’s history of the 1630 events, written over 200 years later, drew on not just on contemporary accounts and court transcripts but on a classic text of the Italian Enlightenment; Cesare Beccaria’s Dei delitti e delle pene (Of crimes and punishments), 1764. The Monument of Shame was erected in 1630 on the site of Gian Giacomo Mora’s barber shop after he had been executed along with Guglielmo Piazza as the ‘smearers’. A symbol or imperial Spanish superstition and injustice, it was removed under Austrian rule in 1778. Thankfully there will be no physical moments of shame erected this time – but the final analysis may lead to some figurative ones.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Towards a ‘Next Normal’: HE and Reflection at Speed 22nd May 2020 Cindy Vallance who lead – people, educational or T hose research programmes, engagement activities or even entire organisations in Higher Education, like every other sector globally, are now confronting the challenges of how to move forward in a world where everything we do has the potential for radical change. However, despite common references to a ‘new normal,’ realistically all we can plan for is a ‘next normal.’ Every day, forecasts and predictions from popular media and the HE press bounce across the spectrum of opportunity and doom; news trickles and cascades like a leaky and unpredictable faucet that dispenses cold water one day and hot the next. However, albeit not without pain, we in higher education have all somehow managed to get through the first months of lockdown, remote working and a comprehensive move to online education. What’s next and how do we determine what to tackle first of the many never before encountered questions remaining? Although definitions vary and models differ, those who work with students appreciate and teach reflective practice as a key element for lifelong learning. Educators have also broadened the spectrum of how to ‘do’ reflection, incorporating a wide range of tools and techniques that embrace the value of inclusive learning approaches and help reframe thinking; the art of the possible. However, the reality is that many of us, particularly now when we factor in unexpected COVID-19 responsibilities, do not undertake much, if any, reflective practice.

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The problem is that the global boat called ‘normal’ in which we’ve been cruising the seas has struck a leak and is filling quickly with water. Our survival is at stake. We know we need to bail – and quickly (the urgent / the reactive) but we also need to scan the horizon to chart a safe course to shore while simultaneously determining how to fix the leak (the important/the proactive). Bailing requires repetition and physical effort; scanning the horizon and plotting a course requires mental agility; patching the hole in the boat requires ingenuity. To manage anything other than bailing what we need to develop are the skills of reflection at speed. We need to slow down the moment, we need to think about what is working and what isn’t. Taking a pause, even a momentary one, to step back from bailing and notice changing conditions will help us to see how quickly the boat is filling and, if we stop bailing, how much time we have to examine and repair the hole while continuing to chart a course forward. And once our boat is repaired sufficiently to get to our next temporary haven, we can’t leave it at that. Reflective practice is a skill that must be developed like any other and applied before, during and after action. To tackle the next normal and the next normal after that, we need to develop our creative, cognitive, adaptive and emotional capabilities. Reflective practice is a conscious effort that prioritises time to think; not something to push out to an imaginary future when the seas have calmed. Intentional reflective practice now, at speed where necessary, will enable us to tackle whatever comes next with a deeper sense of personal and organisational resilience. Reflective practice can calm our anxious minds and give us hope – and now is when we need hope most.

Cindy Vallance is Assistant Director of Knowledge, Innovation and Delivery at AdvanceHE


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Covid-19: Hollywood’s Next 9/11? 22nd May 2020 Dr Jenny Barrett scholarship, cultural commentary M edia and movie reviews regularly reflect on production contexts and their impact on possible readings of the films and shows we watch. Both 9/11 and the Covid-19 epidemic have been described by as ‘America under attack.’ President Trump has stated that the epidemic is a ‘worse attack’ on the US than both Pearl Harbor and 9/11; extending a political rhetoric that has linked 1941 and 2001.[1] In the wake of 9/11 numerous books and articles have considered its impact on tropes, gender representations, heroic (and superheroic) constructions and visual representations of, not only terrorism, but also violence more generally. 9/11 also impacted representations of ethnicity in a binary of ‘good’ versus ‘evil’. Saving Jessica Lynch, for example, a US 2003 made-forTV movie, dramatised the ‘rescue’ of Private First-Class Lynch (white, female) from an Iraqi hospital, characterised the Iraqis as sadistic savages, and of course, Islamic zealots. Reflecting both 9/11 and Covid-19, Dahlia Schweitzer explores a striking connection between terrorism and contagion when she writes about the spate of TV shows in the post-9/11 period, that combined the terrorist threat with deliberate viral infection. In such examples, either a virus-laden ‘bomb’ is hidden in a public place or an infected person deliberately spreads the virus within the USA; often again with racial undertones.

In 24 (Fox, Season 3, 2003-4),[2] the viral threat hails from Mexican drug barons. In, Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion (2011), the virus is traced to food preparation in China. In both, the origin of the threat is placed the ‘exotic’ Global South and East – while the location under ‘threat’ is the affluent Global North. Such representations follow a narrative pattern that ‘buries the workings of colonialism.’[3] 2020 may have a similar, if not even a more pronounced impact on popular culture that goes beyond the films and TV shows that are broadly labelled ‘Hollywood.’ Yet it is likely that the stories will be told, as with 9/11, in a way that reflects dominant attitudes towards the ‘others’ responsible for the threat.

Dr Jenny Barrett is Reader in Film Studies and Popular Culture, and Deputy Director: International Centre for Racism at Edge Hill University. References: [1] For example, Ebony Bowden, ‘Trump says coronavirus pandemic ‘worse than Pearl Harbor…World Trade Center’, New York Post, 6th May 2020 [2] Dahlia Schweitzer “Terrorist as Contagious Other.” In Media Res.29th November 2016. [3] Mark Bould, ‘The Virus Has Seized the Means of Production,’ Boston Review, 8th May 2020. .

Where there is attack there is an aggressor, setting the scene for an ideal melodramatic conflict of good and evil. Based on the narratives emerging from the post-9/11 era, and given President Trump’s wellpublicised Tweets referring to the ‘Chinese virus,’ we may be set to see more films and TV shows placing the blame for global threat on China specifically or fictional places conspicuously designed to mimic that nation. Such representation will serve to re-enforce conceptualisations of good and evil, rather than challenge them.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Streaming and CGI? The future of TV and Film after COVID-19? 26th May 2020 Professor Roger Shannon Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge T heimpact on the film and television industries. Production has been halted on all UK feature films and television series, cinemas were closed, and film festivals migrated online. The onset of the virus has, however, accelerated changes that were already forecast. The enhanced subscription take up for the streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ is one such example; a second being the straight to digital strategy of film releasing, thereby eschewing cinemas, as recently happened with ‘Misbehaviour’, Philippa Lowthorpe’s film of the 1970 Miss World and its feminist disruption of the contest. The impact of the virus has also exposed the economically vulnerability of many of those working in the screen sector, who are on short term self-employed contracts, moving from project to project, and from one part of the country to another. Yet, the response of both the public and the private wings of the industry in supporting the laid off work force has been admirable. Not only the British Film Institute and the film union, BECTU, but Netflix and Mubi have also set up funds to help those in need.

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As production looks to reboot after the lockdown, a whole host of questions need resolving: including social distancing rules on set and on locations; requirements to quarantine foreign cast and crew; how to deliver catering and transport arrangements; the vexed question of insurance. Will PPE be required for hair, make up and costume preparation? Will daily health screenings need to take place? Will all crowd scenes be replaced by CGI? Industry discussion suggests that cinemas will open again in August. But will the public be attracted back to venues that due to social distancing rules will only at their maximum be a possible quarter or third full, and thus lack the essential communal ‘atmosphere’? Will the pipeline of product, stemmed in March by the virus, be in enough quantity and quality to satisfy an audience’s appetite? During lockdown, the streaming platforms have been the saving grace, but will that lead to a total shift away from cinemas as we move into a new, post-corona culture? I guess we will find out!

Professor Roger Shannon is Emeritus Director of the Institute for Creative Enterprise (ICE) at Edge Hill University.


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Creative Resilience and going OFFLine during Lockdown 26th May 2020 Professor Owen Evans part of Voluntary Arts’ Creative A sNetwork, I was recently invited to talk with Nick Ewbank, Chair of ISR’s External Advisory Group, about everyday creativity in the context of the response to COVID-19. In particular, we were looking at David Gauntlett’s definition and how he emphasises the idea of ‘making is connecting’, and advocates the importance of the internet for creative people. Nick subsequently published his own compelling, and more nuanced, understanding of everyday creativity and its potentially vital role in helping to heal the damage done by the lockdown, in an article last week for Arts Professional. In calling for a paradigm shift, Nick argues that the ‘initial goal should be to reach a shared, sciencebased understanding of the central importance of everyday creativity in our lives’. Certainly, the cultural sector has done much to try to support people through what has been a distressing period, if we consider the ways in which theatres, museums, dance companies and musicians inter alia have made their work available for free online. However, the way people have applied themselves to creative challenges at home, supported by various initiatives such as Voluntary Arts’ Get Creative at Home or Fun Palace’s Tiny Revolutions of Connection, is potentially more significant, most especially because not everyone has access to the internet or smart technology. If nothing else, what the pandemic has laid bare is the stark digital divide that pertains in the UK; wherein large swathes of the population remain isolated, unable to benefit from these online cultural resources and opportunities.

In my own recent article with Tristi Brownett, we argued that community cultural festivals can be important generators of wellbeing through their ‘collective effervescence’. Even if physical distancing means festival spaces are not open to us at the moment, community initiatives are heartwarmingly proving that people are not socially distanced. They remain collectively effervescent, and creative in their resilience. The Leigh Film Society volunteers, for example, have been busy delivering orange bags containing DVDs to families who do not have access to online streaming services. Meanwhile, in Leeds, Mini Playbox is a community partnership project between artists distributing boxes of creativity, activities and fun during lockdown. The emphasis here is on OFFline activities for families and individuals within communities, and this is happening within communities all over the UK.

Professor Owen Evans is a Professor of Film in the Department of Media at Edge Hill University.

The value of everyday creativity, both online and off, should be at the heart of a resilient, sustainable, caring society that supports, protects and nurtures the health and wellbeing of all its citizens.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Constructive Opposition in a Time of Crisis: Can the new Labour Leadership Rise to the Challenge? 27th May 2020 Paula Keaveney opposition is usually pretty P arliamentary easy. You criticise the other side. They are wrong, they haven’t gone far enough, they have made a U turn and so on. You have plenty of opportunities. There are the weekly Prime Ministers Questions, you can ask urgent questions, you can intervene in debates, you can be on television, you can table amendments. But the “peace time” routines don’t quite work in a crisis and opposition parties and leaders have a tightrope to walk. No one wants to be accused of politicising a crisis. Yet politics has to go on. And here is the dilemma for Labour and Sir Keir Starmer. There has been much attention on the two Johnson/Starmer PMQs we have seen so far. But these have come after a period of opposition spokespeople taking great care to appear constructive. In fact many interviews have started off with a statement to that effect. The Commons goes into recess on 21 May. But before then we have significant sessions in the Chamber, including a debate on the Trade Bill, Treasury and Transport Questions and another Johnson /Starmer duel. In the early stages of the crisis, approval ratings for Johnson and the Government were high. This was generally the case for governments and leaders elsewhere. Last week however the picture began to change. Starmer’s approval rating had overtaken Johnson’s for the first time and support for the government, while still relatively high, was declining.

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So how does the opposition avoid being seen to be too political while making points critical of the government? The first approach is the use of factual questions which lead into the area of competence. Of course everyone would agree that accuracy matters. The second is a focus on “transparency”. Whenever transparency is questioned there is an implication of things being hidden. Of course everyone would agree that honesty matters. The third is a focus on clarity. Whatever the government says, the call is for more clarity and less confusion. Of course everyone would agree that it matters that we understand what to do. All three of these are particularly useful to an opposition. It is impossible to include every detail of every fact in an answer, and so you, the government, look incompetent. It is impossible to be transparent about everything, and so you look shifty. It is impossible to explain every single possible scenario without writing a 10,000 word dissertation. So you end up looking confused on detail. The role of an official opposition is partly to be a government in waiting. You can’t do that without showing how you would be better. In current terms this means more competent, more honest and more clear. The aim is to become more trusted. After a period of little direction during the leadership election, Labour in Parliament is showing some discipline in pursuing arguments around competency, truthfulness and clarity. It will be interesting to see if this continues.

Paula Keaveney is Programme Leader for Politics at Edge Hill University. Image 22/04/2020.. London, United Kingdom. First virtual PMQs and Ministerial statement on Coronavirus, with First Secretary of State Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP and the Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer MP. Picture by Jessica Taylor © UK Parliament


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Covid-19, Higher Education and the rise of video-based learning 27th May 2020 Angel Tan the rapid shift to focus on online G iven video-based learning due to the Covid19 pandemic, it is evident that we need to develop understanding of how this mode of learning will impact student engagement with their course and learning. Also, what measures can be used to determine its success? Video-based learning has a long history in its use as an educational tool in various forms, like instructional videos, demonstration videos, knowledge clips, and web lectures. As such, Higher education institutions have often supplemented their curriculum with alternative and complementary learning resources to support students from different educational backgrounds and learning needs. Along with the advancement in technology such as highspeed internet and personal devices, the shift towards the use of video in in higher education had begun before Covid-19. While all university campuses are physically closed, educators and lecturers are working hard behind the scene to educate, support, and ensure that students can progress with minimum disruptions to their studies, through online lectures, video-based resources etc. Organisations and private companies such as Coursera, Future Learn, Udemy and Google, are also taking this opportunity to promote and expand their inhouse online learning platforms by offering students free access to video-based academic courses.

Evidence has shown that using video technology as a way to learn can impact students directly and positively (Kay & Kletskin, 2012). Students generally describe video-based learning as enjoyable (Winterbottom, 2007), motivating (Hill & Nelson, 2011), and effective in enhancing learning performance (Salina et al., 2012). However, less is known about whether the use of video in learning will facilitate knowledge development and critical thinking within a higher education setting. The current methodological approach typically relies on post-experimental tests of basic concepts as a measure of effectiveness when comparing video-based learning with other models. This results in a research gap that requires further exploration on whether video-based learning could be used to encourage deeper and broader application of knowledge and critical thinking skills (Carmichael, Reid, & Karpicke, 2018).

Angel Tan is a PhD Student, Department of Psychology, Edge Hill University. References: Carmichael, M., Reid, A., & Karpicke, J. D. (2018). Assessing the impact of educational video on student engagement, critical thinking and learning. Sage Publishing. Hill, J. L., & Nelson, A. (2011). New technology, new pedagogy? Employing video podcasts in learning and teaching about exotic ecosystems. Environmental Education Research, 17(3), 393-408. doi: 10.1080/13504622.2010.545873 Kay, R., & Kletskin, I. (2012). Evaluating the use of problem-based video podcasts to teach mathematics in higher education. Computers & Education, 59, 619627. Salina, L., Ruffinengo, C., Garrino, L., Massariello, P., Charrier, L., Martin, B., Favale, M. S., … Dimonte, V. (2012). Effectiveness of an educational video as an instrument to refresh and reinforce the learning of a nursing technique: A randomized controlled trial. Perspectives on medical education, 1(2), 67-75. Winterbottom, S. (2007). Virtual lecturing: Delivering lectures using screencasting and podcasting technology. Planet, 18, 6-8.

Moving forward, a new era of learning will rise with the popularity of video-based learning. While we acknowledge the shortfalls of this methodological approach in the field, video-based learning has the greatest potential to be explored further to serve the demands of learners post Covid19. It also gives us an opportunity to find out if it works – in the longer term!

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Experts at Bereavement? 28th May 2020 Rev John Davis a F ollowing bereavements;

series of family including my father, mother and only brother over a 2-year period, my elder daughter responded very positively when I said she was coping very well. ‘Dad’, she said, ‘we have become experts at bereavement!’ Notwithstanding, I required counselling having been devastated by my losses; she is now a prescribing community nurse for a Children’s hospice. As a young curate I conducted over 25 funerals on the Crematorium duty rota in my first month in post. These were for people from all over the region; I met the grieving family at the door of the crematorium and tried to conduct a meaningful service with no prior knowledge of the deceased or their family! Later, working in urban parishes, I experienced many deaths and funerals; babies, pupils and parents in my children’s school, those of my family, close friends and members of my church. The most traumatic experience was being asked to switch off life support for a 7-year-old child with staff and family present. Visiting London following the death of Princess Diana I was dragged unwillingly to Kensington Palace to look at the “amazing” sea of flowers outside. I found myself in tears, not at all because of the flowers but because of the young princes and the family, friends and staff left bereft behind those walls.

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Dealing with the death of loved ones and the fear that brings has been cast to the forefront of our minds triggered by this dreadful virus that the whole world is facing. For well in excess of 35,000 families along with multitudes of friends and colleagues in the UK, bereavement and all of its pain has become a stark reality as it was during wartime. What positives can be drawn from this tragedy? Hopefully the much-needed advances in science to bring about a vaccine. For me, I have known through all of my pain, some amazing doctors, nurses, carers, friends and many broken but beautifully hospitable and grateful families who I know would rush to support me in times of trouble. I have stared death down and prayed as someone acquainted with pain and preached about a Saviour who was tortured and died but rose again still with the wounds to bring eternal hope and reassurance. Without this I would have lost hope long ago; death cannot have the last word! Bereavement is woven into the fabric of all our lives; what is there for those of us left to cope post Covid-19? To be thankful for family or friends lost and those who cared for them. To do what they would want in remembering them and moving forward to bring hope, justice, renewal and much needed change in our world for the future. This planet is a precious resource and is being squandered and stripped of life. I may be an expert in bereavement but I hope that the premature loss of so many loved ones is a catalyst for a better world that values every human life.

Rev John Davis of ‘Together Liverpool’ and the Church Urban Fund is an ISR Visiting Fellow.


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Listen up! Schools have always been much more than places for Education 28th May 2020 Dr Jo Albin-Clark a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, A sschools in England have radically shifted form. After temporarily closing for the majority of children, they have remained open for some. The sector is in the midst of planning how to bring more children on site safely. Alongside this, extraordinary attempts have been made to sustain relationships with pupils who are not present in school. But what are schools like for teachers working with those children still attending? As an academic working in teacher education, I am interested in how teachers navigate this new territory that is familiar yet has become so strange. Recently I opened up an e-mail from a past student who is now a newly qualified teacher. A radically changed classroom is described, characterised by openness to more child-initiated approaches yet closely bound to children’s emotions. As children’s wellbeing is tuned into, what seems to be paramount is the significance of listening to children. He offers one particular observation; a 6-year-old boy is drawing and talks about his sadness and worry about his mum who works as a hospital doctor. The boy describes her long working hours, his fears that she might catch the virus and the consequences for him of less time for normal things such as playing together in their local park.

This little fragment of a listening encounter illuminates the complex emotional labour that constitutes teacher’s relationships with children. Hargreaves (2001, 2005) describes such relationships as emotional geographies. I have used this theory in some recent research (Albin-Clark, 2020) and found that teachers use their emotions to activate changes in their pedagogical practice. In this example, we see the role that listening plays in enabling a space and time for the creative expression of complex feelings. Here the boy makes sense of his mum’s increased absence, his fear in relation to health, and how much he misses playing.

Dr Jo Albin-Clark is a Senior Lecturer in Early Years Education at Edge Hill University References: Albin-Clark J (2020) ‘I felt uncomfortable because I know what it can be’: The emotional geographies and implicit activisms of reflexive practices for early childhood teachers. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 21(1), pp. 20-32. Hargreaves A (2001) Emotional geographies of teaching. Teachers College Record 103(6): 1056–1080. Hargreaves A (2005) Educational change takes ages: Life, career and generational factors in teachers’ emotional responses to educational change. Teaching and Teacher Education 21(8): 967–983. .

How teachers learn from these kinds of emotional encounters will not get lost as schools grapple with the practical changes that physical distancing will bring. It is a timely reminder that the relationships that teachers and their children build is strongly driven by listening. Teachers know that children will be profoundly affected by this pandemic. As we take small steps out of lockdown, it reminds us that schools have always been so much more than places for education. Listening to children is a skill that will be vital as we navigate future classrooms, and the good news is that this is something that teachers already do exceptionally well.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Covid-19: Liberation from the Clock (for some) 28th May 2020 Dr Roger Spalding development of electronic T hecommunications over the past few years has made home working a possibility for many of us, the current Covid 19 pandemic has made it compulsory for even more of us. If we set aside the pressures of social isolation, this is a development that could have many benefits.

In the first decades of the 19th century increasing demand led merchants supplying raw materials, to attempt to undermine this skilled status and control of entry to the trade of stocking knitter to speed-up production and reduce costs. It was this erosion of status that led to the Luddite Uprising in 1812.

In the early days of the Industrial Revolution much of Britain’s industry was conducted in people’s homes. In the leading industry of that time, cotton textiles, many workers, such as weavers were home-based. There were many perceived advantages to this arrangement. It meant, among other things that such workers had control over their work routine. It was not uncommon for them to work very long hours over 3 to 4 days to secure enough income for that week, and then devote the rest of their time to other activities, such as gardening or sports, or making cheese and butter if they kept a cow on the local common. At the time people talked about ‘St. Monday, Indicating that they did not work on the first day of the week. To use the cliché: they worked to live, rather than living to work.

After 1815 factory production increased and, in the process reduced many workers to machine minders unable to take pride in a well-made item, and bound them to the regular hours, 6 days a week, of the industrial workplace. Charles Dickens noted this de-humanising process in his 1854 novel, Hard Times, set in a fictionalised version of Preston, Coketown. There he noted that factory workers were referred to as ‘Hands’, devoid of personality and mere appendages of the machines they tended. Karl Marx coined the term ‘Alienation’ to describe this loss of control experienced by industrial workers. In the 20th Century Charlie Chaplin’s film, Modern Times give a brilliant visual representation of the reduction of the worker to a cog in a machine.

This pattern of work had other positive features too. Skilled artisans could control entry to their trade through the apprenticeship system, which was a way of maintaining level of income. Such artisans, like stocking knitters (stockings at this time were long socks, worn by both sexes) took pride in producing good quality fullyfashioned items.

Working at home, then for many restores control over their time. Tasks have to be completed, but such work can be combined with some gardening, cooking, making cheese or butter, should you have access to the appropriate livestock, thinking, or even, if you are keen on ads for Funeral Insurance, watching daytime TV. It is a more humane existence, other activities are not necessarily confined to time-spaces left by work. Such arrangements are not available to all workers, but in a service economy they are available to an increasing number. If nothing else the experience of the pandemic may make people think more deeply about the nature of work and that well-worn entity: the work/life balance.

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Dr Roger Spalding is Programme Leader for History at Edge Hill University.


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Returning to ‘normal’: Better or Worse for those with special need and/or disabilities? 29th May 2020 Michelle Dunne n uncertain times, it is unsurprising that evoking the idea of ‘normal’ provides a source of comfort. ‘Normal’ implies a predictability and coherence that many of us crave. Both a return to the ‘old’ normal and a re-imagining of a ‘new’ normal are presented as potential reassurances of a more familiar and comprehensible future. It seems that the word ‘normal’ is more present in our communications than ever before. However, our craving for normality is not without issues.

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I want to explore my own discomfort with the idolisation of normality, from the perspective of education. The school closure experiences and insights of children and young people who attract the term ‘special educational needs and/or disabilities’ (SEND) can offer some insight into our relationship with ideas about ‘normal’. The very fact that the term ‘SEND’ includes the word ‘special’ indicates an interesting relationship with normality. For example, disabled advocates have long campaigned for the use of remote meetings as a way to make education, workplaces, and social opportunities more accessible. Their need for these provisions has been deemed special, and thus extra or other.

If we consider Lennard Davis’ (2010) analysis of the construction of normalcy, which appears in history shortly after industrialisation and follows a eugenicist path, we see that ‘normal’ can be thought of as the idealisation of the statistically average, a notion tied closely to efficiency and economy. These statistical averages allow us to universally orient our practices toward the productivity of the statistically average human, and to measure ourselves in terms of deviations from that ‘ideal’. Our practices, then, might be considered to be a good fit for the extremely few people who fit in precisely the middle of all given measures. When we organise ourselves according to the average, variations are applied as extra or other.

Michelle Dunne is a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Faculty of Education at Edge Hill University. References: Davis, L. J. (2010) ‘Constructing Normalcy: The Bell Curve, the Novel, and the Invention of the Disabled Body in the Nineteenth Century’, in Davis, L. J. (ed.) The Disability Studies Reader. New York: Routledge, pp. 3– 16.

The current yearning for normality provides an opportunity for the further idealisation of the normal. As schools reopen, will those practices which have become normal become special once again? I wonder what other barriers we could overcome if we were to deem difference as normal rather than special? If we orient ourselves toward a new version of normal that is accommodating only toward the average, are we reconstituting the same old disadvantages?

In our present situation, the use of remote meetings has become normal, and large numbers of people are educated, carry out their paid work, and engage in social activity online. Substantial efforts are made to ensure that all of this is possible. The change in the status of remote education – from special to normal – highlights significant issues in the way that we can equitably approach education, and the problematic nature of our yearning for normality.

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Institute for Social Responsibility COVID-19 Blog Perspectives

Staging Apocalypse: Endgame, by Samuel Beckett 29th May 2020 Professor Victor Merriman HAMM: This is not much fun. But that’s always the way at the end of the day, isn’t it, Clov? CLOV: Always. HAMM: It’s the end of the day like any other day, isn’t it, Clov? CLOV: Looks like it. HAMM (anguished): What’s happening, what’s happening? CLOV: Something is taking its course. Samuel Beckett’s Endgame Monday 16 March 2020, the Old Vic O ntheatre cancelled its production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, with Daniel Radcliffe as Clov, Alan Cummings as Hamm, Karl Johnson as Nagg, and Jane Horrocks as Nell. Beckett’s drama, set in a sealed room in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, had been terminated as London itself became an urban desert, menaced by a rampant virus, with – many fear – apocalyptic potential. Clov, manservant to Hamm, spends most of his time in his kitchen, ‘ten feet by ten feet by ten feet […] nice dimensions, nice proportions’. There, he will ‘lean on the table, and look at the wall, and wait for him to whistle me’. Hamm, whose parents, Nell and Nagg, occupy dustbins to his right, sits centre stage in an armchair. He is literally blind; metaphorically, even moreso, HAMM: Can there be misery, loftier than mine? […] My father? My mother? My … dog? [Pause] Oh, I am willing to believe they suffer as much as such creatures can suffer. But does that mean their sufferings equal mine?

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Hamm’s register is empty bombast, the signature of the ham actor, one of a number of referents on which his name plays. He is cruelly capricious, commanding Clov’s every move, summoning and dismissing his parents, who eventually cease to be. Recent scholarship has recuperated Samuel Beckett’s dramas from the critical cul de sac known as ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ – a classification ultimately disowned by Martin Esslin, who coined the phrase. He was dismayed as it came to function as a shorthand that denied the ethical force of what playwrights as diverse as Jarry, Artaud, Pirandello, Ionesco, Beckett, and Pinter brought to the stage. Beckett’s intimate involvement in apocalyptic events in twentieth-century Europe has all too often been marginalised as a context for reading his stage aesthetics. This has impoverished critical understanding, both of the works themselves, and his approach to an artist’s public role. His unrelenting focus on the limits of human civilisation is nothing like an absurd position, when set in the context of his active resistance to Nazi occupation in France, and his engagement with liberal political economy’s awful nineteenthcentury crime – the response to, and not the fact of – the failure of the staple potato crop in Ireland. Plays always speak from and to the times from which they emerge, and, as Peter Brook and Jonathan Miller demonstrated, speak also to future, unforeseeable, circumstances. Endgame stages a world in which old people expire in dustbins, a worker incarcerated at home reels under the weight of contradictory imperatives, while a self-regarding overseer, obsessively gives, and reviews his own performance. Beckett left us a play for our times.

Professor Victor Merriman is Professor of Critical Studies in Drama at Edge Hill University.


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To the Moon and Back: Summing up the ISR/EHU Covid-19 Blog 1st June 2020 Professor Jo Crotty we had the idea to ISR blog in the W hen week after lockdown in late March, we could not have imagined that it would have such resonance. Since the start of April we have had nearly 50 posts, charting our immediate response as an academic community to a once in a 100-year event. In receiving, reviewing and editing the posts each day – I have oscillated between hope and despair; and somewhere in between. Fear that we may have permanently given up our way of life to fight this disease, but then hope that perhaps we can reimagine part of it for the better in its aftermath. Moreover, some of the historical entries have prompted me to wondered if the ordinary people felt the same during the Spanish flu pandemic a century ago? Likely at times they did feel hopeless, not least the populations of Europe, the USA and the Empire had just endured 4 years of war. Yet as a species we did bounce back from Spanish flu – and made it all the way to the moon! So I have no doubt that we will do so again.

And so, in setting out to summarise what is already an historical document, the blog falls into four broad categories; 1. The pandemic has the potential to permanently alter the way in which we organise our lives. Many of us have become more creative and learnt new skills. It has been a journey of discovery, individually, institutionally, economically, and as a society, and may even solve the EHU car parking problem, and we have all got used to working remotely. 2. Vigilance is needed when loaning out our ‘civil liberties’ for the perceived ‘greater good’; what surveillance and other genies have we let out of the bottle during this period – and can we put them back? Relatedly, how do we do ‘politics’ in times of crisis and how to we critique constructively? 3. In the longer term, the ‘cure’ for Covid-19 may end up being more harmful than the disease. Many posts illustrate just how hard it is in our complex and integrated world, to take difficult decisions in the absence of full or good information. 4. History repeats – or at least rhymes. Thankfully, the red X was not put on our front doors this time, but other aspects of the accounts of pandemics passed, were eerily familiar; including the both the mythology and inequalities arising therefrom.

As the blog entered its final week, it also reflected on ‘what’s next?’. As we emerge from ‘lockdown’ will society be kinder, or will we miss the opportunity to make permanent changes as we flock back to the shops, and queue for ‘drive through’ take away? Perhaps some of the philosophical perspectives also expressed in the blog will help us we take away the good, leave behind at least some of the bad, and make it back to the moon? In the next few weeks we will be compiling all the blog entries into a pdf document. This will be available to download from the ISR website. We also intend to host an anniversary event in March 2021 where we will ask some of the bloggers to reflect on their posts; what happened next, did they get their predictions right – and what do they think now? More information on this event will also follow. Finally I would like to thank all the contributors and readers of the blog. You all made it a huge success; and I look forward to seeing you all on campus one day very soon! Professor Jo Crotty is Director of thre Institute for Social Responsibility, Edge Hill University.

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The Institute for Social Responsibility (ISR) is Edge Hill University’s cross-disciplinary research and knowledge exchange initiative. The Institute is committed to exploring the opportunities for cross sector collaboration and co-operation and to draw on the experience of practitioners as well as academic researchers to inform new ways of working and learning.

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