Safely managing COVID-19: using insight in Greater Manchester

Whilst COVID-19 is having significant impacts on the lives of residents and the city region of Greater Manchester as a whole, we know that the nature and extent of these impacts are not being evenly experienced across the population. National research into these issues exists but lacks the level of detail authorities in Greater Manchester knew they needed to identify those affected most, the issues they face, the support they need, and do determine how best communications and support should be targeted.


With a population of nearly 2.8 million, Greater Manchester is culturally diverse, with one of the largest student populations in Europe. The city region has higher than average levels of deprivation, lower than average life expectancies and significant variations in these at a local authority level.

The solution

We know that effective communications and engagement must be underpinned by evidence and insight. So, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, on behalf of its partners, has begun a comprehensive programme of regular insight studies into the issues and impacts of coronavirus across Greater Manchester as a whole, and within its 10 local authorities. The aim of this study is to ensure communications and engagement activities are insight-led and appropriately delivered and targeted, and to support the behaviour change needed across the population to tackle COVID-19 and its extensive and unequal impacts.

BMG Research was commissioned to undertake monthly online and telephone surveys of at least 1,000 residents. Quotas were set and weightings applied to ensure the sample reflects the profile of residents in Greater Manchester.

Download the first two reports, Safely Managing Covid-19: Greater Manchester Population Survey results: January 2021 and December 2020. The third set of results will be available from the same link in mid-February.

Living with COVID-19 in Greater Manchester

The research has found that, while concerns, anxieties and impacts of the pandemic have been felt throughout the population, in Greater Manchester, some groups have experienced these more than others, including:

  • young people, particularly those aged 16-24
  • those with young children, particularly 0 to four years old
  • residents from ethnic minority backgrounds overall, and Asian residents in particular
  • Muslim residents and those for whom English is not their first language
  • carers and residents when someone in their household has been told they are at high risk
  • disabled people
  • LGBTQ+ residents
  • those who have served in the armed forces
  • those living in the ‘most deprived’ communities.

Acting on the findings

After only two surveys, the residents survey has quickly become an invaluable part of Greater Manchester’s response to COVID-19.

It is informing new and refined messaging and approaches for residents, for businesses and for the city region’s wide network of partners who are together playing a role in together stopping the spread of coronavirus and its many and unequal impacts.

It is also providing a foundation for local areas’ programmes of targeted communications and engagement funded through the national Community Champions scheme.

This work is informing policy development as well as communications and engagement. It has played a key role in shaping Greater Manchester’s leading piece of work to quantify its current and future COVID-19 position – in terms of epidemiology and wider economic and social issues – and the city region’s collective response to it.