The University of Central Lancashire works with two groups of children in Whitehaven to do community research and develop projects to strengthen social networks in their community.
In Mirehouse they have been working with a group of children at St Begh’s Catholic Primary School, called ‘Mirehouse Community Superheroes’ and in Woodhouse they have been working with a group of girls called ‘Girls Gang’.
UCLan wanted to reward both groups for their great efforts with t-shirts, helping to provide the groups with a shared identity when engaging in social action activities to help their community. AS Designs from Cleator Moor stepped forward, providing both groups with free printed t-shirts.
Suzanne Wilson, Research Fellow at UCLan has been managing both projects and said,
“ We are so grateful for AS Designs. They have helped to develop a strong group identity in both groups of children, and the t-shirts are treasured by the children. It was wonderful to be able to reward the children for their amazing efforts to help their community, and they wear their t-shirts with a strong sense of pride.“
Hannah Simpson from AS Design said “AS Design were thrilled when Suzanne contacted us to be involved in this great project, we always try our best to help out within the community, it was amazing hearing how happy the children were with their t-shirts and made us all proud to have been able to reward the children for all their hard work”.
Connected Communities West Cumbria – more about the project
The Connected Communities West Cumbria project is adding to the international body of work undertaken by UCLan’s Connected Communities Approach. The project in West Cumbria has included children as community researchers, in the anticipation that this will promote children’s sense of capacity and citizenship within their community, providing them with opportunities to be agents for change. Since January 2018 the project has been working with two cohorts of 38 young people who act as community researchers, undertaking weekly sessions aimed at raising awareness of their community and reflecting on this, along with planning and executing various social action projects.
The young people have all been trained in research skills and have been given the opportunity to engage in community research, surveying their community about their social networks, emotional well-being and perceptions of their community. This took place during the Easter and summer holidays of 2018 and was supported by local Police Community Support Officers who had also received training in Connected Communities research methods. Almost 300 surveys have been completed by people in the community.
Co-Produced Interventions to Bring People Together
The young people will work alongside partner organisations to design, develop and deliver a range of inter-generational projects in their communities. Ideas expressed by some of the children already include tea-parties, cooking sessions, local histories events and book clubs. These events will be ran by the children, under the supervision staff, bringing together younger and older community members to build strong inter-generational connections and overcoming loneliness. This project will have the dual impact of reducing social isolation in older people whilst promoting citizenship in children.
The Impact of Connected Communities
- Impact on Community Researchers: The young people who have volunteered as Community Researchers have shown gains in confidence, capacity and citizenship. Through been able to explore their communities the young people also developed their empathy and empowerment.
- Impact on the Community: The community will benefit from new projects aiming to the community together. These projects will be informed by the community research, so will be responding to the needs expressed by the community.
- Impact on Policy: The work being done is already impacting on local policy, which has connected young people with Copeland Borough Council to develop a ‘Children’s Charter’. The project will continue to work with the local borough and county councils, with the view of impacting on policy on a regional and national level.
What was achieved through Cumbria Exchange?
Mirehouse Community Superheroes and Girls Gang were given printed t-shirts to support their role as budding community researchers. AS Design printed a bespoke design created by the young people themselves.
The donation of printed t-shirts featuring a logo designed by the young people has helped to develop a strong group identity and sense of pride.
Where can I find out about the parties involved?
Connected Communities West Cumbria – Please contact via Suzanne Wilson, Research Fellow in Social Inclusion and Community Development. Email: SWilson21@uclan.ac.uk Facebook: @ConnectedCommunitiesWestCumbria
AS Design Cumbria Ltd – http://www.asdesigncumbria.com/