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Understanding risks to care workers’ wellbeing: an analysis of applications to The Care Workers’ Charity Hardship Fund pre-Covid-19 and during the pandemic


   Department of Sociological Studies

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  Prof Sue Yeandle, Prof Majella Kilkey  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Department of Sociological Studies and CIRCLE at the University of Sheffield are pleased to offer a PhD studentship funded by a White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership Collaborative Award. The project partner is The Care Workers’ Charity (CWC). CWC has a longstanding relationship with CIRCLE, which is home to a number of externally funded care-related projects, including the ESRC-funded Sustainable Care Programme. The academic supervisors are Professor Sue Yeandle and Professor Majella Kilkey. Karolina Gerlich, CWC’s Executive Director, will provide additional supervisory-input. 

Working closely with CWC, the student will undertake a project designed to develop understanding of the risks to wellbeing experienced by care workers. Data held by the CWC on applications to its ‘Crisis Grants’ and ‘COVID-19 Emergency Funds’ will be analysed to explore wellbeing risks to care workers prior to and during Covid-19, and new qualitative research with care workers and care providers / employers will be undertaken. The project will develop important knowledge of how longstanding structural problems within social care manifested during Covid-19, and how conditions within social care interacted with other areas of policy, particularly welfare and migration, and with care workers’ family and personal lives, to contribute to shaping wellbeing risks for its workforce. The project will be novel in examining how intersectional inequalities relating to gender, ethnicity, migration and other aspects of diversity and inequality, which characterise the care workforce, impact patterns of wellbeing risks.

The project addresses the following questions:

  • What wellbeing risks did Covid-19 pose for care workers in social care?
  • What role did structural conditions within social care play in shaping those wellbeing risks?
  • How did other policy areas intersect with conditions in social care to configure wellbeing risks for care workers?
  • How did paid work experiences interact with family and personal life contexts during the pandemic, and with what impact on wellbeing risks? 
  • How did the intersectional inequalities characterising this workforce impact care workers’ wellbeing experiences during Covid-19?

The topic of enquiry is urgent and important, and the student’s work will give CWC critical knowledge and insight into the structural origins of risks to care workers’ wellbeing, and strengthen CWC’s existing work, with its focus on responding to crises in individuals’ circumstances.

The studentship, beginning on 1 October 2021, is offered as a +3 or 1+3 award and as full-time or part-time. Applicants are expected to have a strong first degree in a relevant social science subject. Applicants applying for a +3 award must demonstrate that they have already completed the full social sciences research methods training requirements at Masters level or have equivalent professional training.

Interested candidates should in the first instance contact either Professor Sue Yeandle: [Email Address Removed]; or Professor Majella Kilkey: [Email Address Removed].

Following enquiry, applications should be made through the University of Sheffield Postgraduate Online Application Form. As part of this, applicants should provide the following additional documents: a CV; a succinct maximum 1000-word paper on the working conditions experienced by care workers in UK social care; a one-page personal statement explaining how their skills, experiences, interests and career plans make them a suitable candidate for the studentship. Please cite the title of this studentship in your application. 

The deadline for applications is 8 March 2021. Interviews will be held virtually on 25 March 2021.