Researchers secure major new funding to support Coronavirus response

concept of covid 19 in red background

We’re excited to share an update on DSPI’s efforts to support the continued response to the current pandemic. Our interdisciplinary team of researchers are finding impactful and innovative ways to understand and mitigate policy and intervention challenges around the globe. Here is a summary of the latest project wins: 

  • In a continuation of the ‘Parenting in the time of Covid-19’ programme, Professor Lucie Cluver’s team has secured a further award of £203,000 from the Oxford University Medical Science Division COVID-19 Research Response Fund to provide evidence-based resources to reduce child abuse risks for families. Having already reached a remarkable 43 million families across 174 countries, the programme will now reach an estimated 87 million within the next 12 weeks of global lockdown. 
  • As part of the parenting engagement efforts, a new five-month study will be undertaken in evidence-based playful parenting. Led by Dr Jamie M. Lachman, and working alongside humanitarian NGO Clowns Without Borders South Africa, the COVID-19 Playful Parenting Emergency Response Fund has secured £222,000 from the LEGO Foundation to develop fun and interactive ways of encouraging participation by parents globally. Playful content will be developed in close collaboration with artists in multiple countries who have extensive experience working with vulnerable populations in emergency and crisis situations, and in consultation with play experts in the public and private sector, such as the World Bank’s ECD team and the LEGO Group. 'We are delighted to be working with the LEGO Foundation on the COVID-19 Playful Parenting Emergency Response project' says Professor Lachman. 'Our aim is to reach as many families as possible and provide them with interactive and accessible evidence-based resources to address increased risks of violence against children due to the COVID-19 pandemic'. The parenting resources produced to date can be accessed on the project website, and are available in 80 languages. 
  • Closer to home, a partnership has been formed with Oxford City Council to create a model which can estimate how demand for food aid will vary in the community, in light of government policy as a result of COVID-19. Dr Aaron Reeves will lead this project, which is funded by the council. This research is funded by the Higher Education Innovation Funde (HEIF) throught the Research and Public Policy Partnership Scheme.


  • In the wake of the pandemic, numerous organisations have produced "policy trackers" to allow policy-makers and stakeholders to follow and evaluate policy changes across the world. In order to address information overload, a new project has been established to develop an Oxford-based "supertracker" that gives users immediate access to all existing policy trackers, and provides user-friendly online tools for data exploration and visualisation. The project will build on and extend the work carried out by Lukas Lehner, DPhil student in Social Policy. Led by Dr Marek Naczyk, with the involvement of Head of Department Professor Bernhard Ebbinghaus, Professor Mary Daly and Dr Tim Vlandas, the project will also propose concrete actions to solve gaps in information contained within existing policy trackers, and create synergies between them. This research is funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) and Oxford ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA).

More outcomes will be shared in due course as researchers across our department apply their expertise to these challenging times.