Do you still see us? Participatory Research with UC:Us during a pandemic

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


The UC:Us project began in 2019 when a group of Universal Credit claimants from Northern Ireland joined together with researchers to make recommendations to improve the experience of claiming benefit at both UK and Northern Ireland level. Working together, the participants developed a vision for a future social security system, which would treat everyone with dignity and respect as valued members of society. They co-produced an illustrated guide to their journeys on Universal Credit, and developed a set of policy recommendations. This participatory work has now entered a new phase, with the participants directly lobbying politicians in Northern Ireland to implement policy change on Universal Credit. At the same time, participants are working with the researchers, welfare rights professionals and a graphic designer to produce a guide to Universal Credit, which is rooted in the expertise of experience of the benefit. Both these endeavours have been difficult due to the constraints of the pandemic, and the resultant move online. This shift to virtual working has provided opportunities and challenges, while we have also faced ethical dilemmas that are common to participatory research processes. This presentation will provide an insight into the experiences of the participants during the Covid-19 crisis. There will be a focus on how participants have used their experiences to push for change and to support those claiming UC, perhaps for the first time. There will also be discussion on how the researchers have adapted to working during these unprecedented times; and reflections on the methodological approach taken.
Period7 Jul 2021
Event titleSocial Policy Association Conference 2021: Global challenges – national social policy responses?
Event typeConference
LocationSwansea, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • universal credit
  • social security
  • welfare state
  • devolution
  • northern ireland
  • participatory research
  • coronavirus
  • covid-19
  • research methods