EVENS (Evidence for Equality National Survey) is the UK’s first and largest survey of its kind to document the impact of Covid-19, and the lockdowns, on the lives of ethnic and religious minority people. 

Led by the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) at the University of Manchester, the ambitious survey aims to transform the policy landscape, inform work and campaigns for racial justice, and create a data legacy by providing robust evidence on a comprehensive range of issues facing ethnic and religious minority people during the pandemic

The energy, responsiveness, nimbleness and commitment of Joy and the Words of Colour team was vital to the success of our collaboration on the Evidence for Equality National Survey (EVENS). Their work, on the branding and strategic communications for EVENS, was integral to us reaching the mark of 14,000 participants, making EVENS the largest and most comprehensive survey in Britain to document the experiences of ethnic and religious minorities during the coronavirus pandemic.

I especially valued Joy and the team sharing the vision of our project – to generate new evidence to promote equality – with such enthusiasm. There were many times when we had to adapt our plans and approach, under very tight time constraints, and Words of Colour without fail responded to what we needed, shared in our ambition and worked to the highest standards. It’s exciting to think of working with Words of Colour again later this year to promote the results of EVENS.

Nissa Finney, EVENS Project Lead and Professor of Human Geography, University of St Andrews


EVENS is a collaboration between the University of St Andrews, the University of Sussex and Ipsos MORI, and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Available in 14 languages, EVENS partners include the NHS Race and Health Observatory alongside 11 VCSE organisations: Operation Black Vote, the Muslim Council of Britain, The Ubele Initiative, the Stuart Hall Foundation, EYST (Wales), Migrants’ Rights Network, BEMIS (Scotland), the Race Equality Foundation, Runnymede Trust, Friends, Family and Travellers and Business in the Community, who assisted with the recruitment drive.

The 30-minute survey covered topical issues such as the impact of Black Lives Matter, ethnicity and migration, racism and discrimination, attitudes towards the police, caring and volunteering, among others concerns. It targeted the full range of ethnic and religious minority groups, including Gypsy, Traveller, Roma and Jewish communities, across England, Scotland and Wales. All eligible participants who completed the survey received a gift voucher. 

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The Brief

Words of Colour was appointed as a strategic collaborator and were involved from the start of the project’s implementation when in the ethics approval stage. The goal was to develop multi-platform pathways to raise awareness of the survey, inspire underserved communities to fill in the survey at a time of crisis and to mobilise and support black and minoritised VCSE partners based in England, Scotland and Wales in their recruitment drive for the survey.

We had to be reactive, proactive, flexible and responsive with so many layers of activities and development from facilitating the creation of the project name, designing the brand identity and setting up and managing its social media presence, to scripting and producing radio adverts in South Asian languages and a community radio show series with a short turnaround to engage specific ethnic and religious communities who were not filling at the survey in significant numbers.


The Work

The bespoke services we created and provided were informed by not just the objectives, but by the needs of all the partners and the target audience and finding ways to ensure real life stories were representing in the marketing and content created. They included:

Project branding and design
Website design
Strategic communications planning
Media, marketing and communications consultancy
Media relations
Press and social media planning
Digital and social media strategies
Digital and social media management
Partner liaison
Content creation
Podcast production
Multi-platform advertising marketing strategy
Community engagement
Artist engagement
Event design and management
Advertising production
Recruitment and supervision of a social media coordinator

The Challenge

Developing such a comprehensive project during three lockdowns and Covid restrictions. 
Building trust among underserved and othered communities and organisations remotely.
At the point of launch, EVENS had no social media. Twitter and Instagram were set up to rectify this. Due to the short turnaround for the project’s implementation, and even shorter lead in time for the launch, Twitter was the quickest way to gain traction and visibility. 
The 6th May 2021 local elections and purdahs, which meant local councillors were difficult to access but post election, the ethnic composition and campaigning platforms of the elected councillors would indicate the electorate’s position on how the pandemic has been handled and the level of political trust.
The ambitious target of 12,000 to 17,000 survey participants for the EVENS survey over a four month period may be seen as unreachable and unrealistic, even among ethnic and religious minority communities, which is why the multi-pronged approach, supported by VCSE and grassroots organisations, had to be emphasised.
EVENS focus on ethnic and religious minority people being undermined and targeted by the right wing press, politicians and groups, Brexit supporters, Covid-deniers and racism deniers as preferential, ‘racist against white people’ and divisive.
Competing with rolling Covid-19 news coverage, from vaccine hesitancy to easing out of lockdown and its impact on the economy. Thought this provided an opportunity to show EVENS point of difference with its focus on health, mental health and racism, for example.
Accessing reduced news teams (as many journalists have been furloughed), meaning a more tailored but a labour-intensive approach was required, which is why it was important for EVENS to produce its own content.

The Outcome

We reached the target number of survey participants: 14,200.

We cultivated a unique collaboration with the Data and Forensic Journalism Unit at Sky News for its TV and digital platforms, which enabled us to:

  • Produce news packages based on pre-agreed topics 
  • Promote EVENS on Sky News TV and digital platforms
  • Allocated a leading correspondent to the project (Jason Farrell, Home Editor)
  • Tailor the content in consultation with the EVENS team and Joy Francis
  • Establish a protocol process 

We secured extensive media coverage across regional, national and specialist press, and BBC English Regions radio broadcast coverage and media engagement for the survey findings, when released.

The EVENS Twitter platform, which was launched on 16th February 2021, attracted 4,276 profile visits, with 47,700 tweet impressions in its first month. The survey announcement attracted 13,500 impressions and 84 mentions. At its peak, in June 2021, it attracted 10,700 profile visits with 128,000 tweet impressions and 161 mentions.

The EVENS survey’s specially created web page, (live from 10 May-July 8, 2021) secured 7,300 views and 19,000 event counts, covering the UK, US, Ireland, China and Europe.

A three-week Facebook video advertising campaign reached 45,000 people. This was achieved despite a week-long disruption by the campaign being blocked by Facebook because it was in support of tackling inequalities and miscategorised as political campaigning.

The 1st
Survey of its kind in the UK
Total number of survey participants
Tweet impressions in its first month
Reach of two-week Facebook campaign