In her series of regular blogs leading up to our Engage Awards 2016 event at the end of the month, Laura Steele is reviewing the nominees in each of the six categories. This time, she’s taking a closer look at the Working In Partnership category.
It goes without saying that every finalist in our Engage Competition exemplifies good practice when it comes to working in partnership with people or organisations outside the university itself.
However, in the Working In Partnership category, that collaborative approach and the nature of the partnership form the essence of the criteria – and our three finalists in 2016 would all be worthy winners.
The three projects, involving the Universities of Manchester, Bath and Brighton, tackle the issue of how to create age-friendly cities for an ageing society, the recruitment challenge in finding foster carers for refugee children, and supporting better mental health outcomes for young people.
Older People as Co-Researchers: Developing Age-Friendly Communities in Manchester
In an innovative approach to getting to the heart of the problems faced by older people in urban communities, the University of Manchester recruited teams of older co-researchers to collaborate on fieldwork that asked what needs to be done to create cities that meet the future needs of an ageing society.
Using the findings from their research (involving 68 interviews conducted across Manchester with people in later life who were facing health and poverty challenges) the co-researchers designed and presented potential solutions. In the true spirit of the Engage Awards, their work is already influencing Manchester City Council as they develop policies that affect older people in deprived areas.
Boingboing Youth Participation
At the other end of the country, the University of Brighton worked with a networking social enterprise, Boingboing to convene a mental health resilience forum. Involving young people; partner organisations; researchers; and anyone keen to improve young people’s mental health, the Forum led to a range of projects including developing resilience tools and a schools-based support programme. Key to the approach was that everything was co-led by the young people themselves, ensuring that the work was informed by, and useful to all involved.
Fostering Hope: Shifting Public Perceptions of Refugee Children and Young People
At the University of Bath, researchers worked alongside The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT) to develop and deliver a project that aimed to shift society’s perceptions around the fostering of child refugees arriving in the UK alone.
The project encouraged the children themselves to document their daily lives through photography, activities and workshops, and the resources that were developed as a result are now being used to train TACT workers and to encourage new foster carers to come forward.
Like all our entries this year, these three projects are brilliant examples of how publically engaged research can have a tangible impact on the everyday lives of all involved.
There can only be one winner in each category on 29th November - but with such exemplary approaches to engagement, that have benefitted all the individuals and organisations involved, and many others, we think these projects are all worth celebrating.