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Voices in a Pandemic: Using deep mapping to explore children’s changing sense of place during the COVID-19 pandemic in UK

Webber, Amanda; Jones, Verity; McEwen, Lindsey; Deave, Toity; Gorell Barnes, Luci; Williams, Sara-Jayne; Hobbs, Laura; Fogg-Rogers, Laura; Gopinath, Deepak


Amanda Webber

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Verity Jones
Associate Professor of Education

Lindsey McEwen
Professor in Environmental Management

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Toity Deave
Associate Professor in Child & Family Health

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Dr Laura Fogg Rogers
Associate Professor of Knowledge Exchange in Engineering


Children’s sense of place is important for wellbeing, development and belonging in a community or place. The VIP-CLEAR (Voices in a Pandemic – Children’s Lockdown Experiences Applied to Recovery) project used creative methods and repeat engagement to capture children’s experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic in socially disadvantaged, urban settings, in Bristol, UK. This paper focuses on findings from the two-phased ‘deep mapping’ activity conducted in schools with 6–11-year-olds to consider children’s sense of place at this time.
Children’s maps showed how their mobility was restricted to the home and/or adult-controlled, looped routes for functional tasks rather than child-directed exploration. Key locations - including school, family houses, and parks - were disconnected and highlighted as sites of ‘absence’, where children were excluded. These places were given meaning due to pre-COVID practice, sensory experience, and/or their relationship with valued people. As pandemic mitigation relaxed, children’s maps showed increasing connections and greater visibility of the community and non-essential activities. As places changed, amplification of existing social inequalities became apparent. In both phases, sense of place evolved and digital and natural spaces (through animals) showed potential for children to increase practice and connections with place.
A strong sense of place may support adaptation to change, and this paper contributes to limited research on how children’s sense of place is dynamic, altering with fluctuating social and environmental conditions, e.g., mitigation of a global pandemic. The implications of findings on future recovery planning involving children are also considered.


Webber, A., Jones, V., McEwen, L., Deave, T., Gorell Barnes, L., Williams, S., …Gopinath, D. (in press). Voices in a Pandemic: Using deep mapping to explore children’s changing sense of place during the COVID-19 pandemic in UK. Children's Geographies,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 1, 2024
Online Publication Date Feb 22, 2024
Deposit Date Feb 1, 2024
Journal Children's Geographies
Print ISSN 1473-3285
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Public URL