Exploring children’s experiences of living in temporary accommodation during COVID-19 lockdowns to establish its impact on wellbeing

Monica Lakhanpaul, Yvonne Parry, Matthew Ankers, Sorcha Mahony, Rosemary Roberts, Michelle Heys, Marcella Ucci, Nadia Svirydzenka

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


Objectives Qualitative research exploring impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children in the United Kingdom, consists of studies either done about, but not with children or explore a general population. Investigations exploring children living in temporary accommodation during COVID-19 lockdowns, from the child’s own voice, do not exist. To address this, we present a longitudinal qualitative study that enabled a group of children living in these circumstances to share their experiences, that helped establish impacts to their wellbeing.

Methods This longitudinal qualitative study formed part of a larger programme of work known as the CHAMPIONS project. Data were collected at two time points from children via semi-structured interviews.  Firstly, 11 participants aged 10–19 years were interviewed regarding their experiences of living in temporary accommodation during COVID-19 lockdowns in mid 2021; then 4 members of the original cohort were interviewed again in late 2021, to explore impacts to peer relations. Data was transcribed verbatim, thematically analysed, and examined together to explore impacts to participants wellbeing.

Results Initial data highlighted how the inappropriate nature of some temporary accommodation, when coupled with lockdowns, impacted children’s mental wellbeing. For example, children described living in accommodation that had an inappropriate number of rooms, relative to the family size. This, when combined with lockdowns, resulted in some children reporting repetitive routines, within the same limited physical space, which made them feel like they were no longer normal kids. Similarly, living in inappropriate, temporary accommodation, resulted in potential impacts to children’s physical wellbeing as they were not able to properly isolate from sick family members. Follow-on data indicated that lockdowns impacted children social wellbeing also, as they became anxious about losing contact with peers, which they had already experienced when being made homeless and having to move to a new school. On a positive note, at both time points, participants described being able to spend more time with their families due to lockdowns, which resulted in improved relationships.

Conclusion This study provides unique insights from children’s own perspectives, regarding the impacts of temporary accommodation and COVID-19 lockdowns, on well-being. The impacts to mental wellbeing and improvements in family relationships are similar to those in McKinlay et al’s (2022) study of children in the general population. However, the additional impact of suboptimal housing environments was striking and further strengthens recommendations for pandemic preparedness and response policies to include provision and planning for priority populations such as these.
Original languageEnglish
Article number382
Pages (from-to)A56-A56
Number of pages1
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
Issue numberSuppl 2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023
EventRCPCH Conference 2023 - Scottish Event Campus Exhibition Way & Virtual, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 23 May 202325 May 2023


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