University teams up with community researchers to help improve their neighbourhood

A Team of community researchers will join forces with academics to help improve their neighbourhood.

UK Research and Innovation today announced its backing for the Seven Kingdoms of Wester Hailes, one of 53 new UK-wide projects worth £1.4million which will enable members of the public to actively contribute to research and innovation projects that affect their lives.
Part of the agency’s Enhancing place-based partnerships in public engagement programme, the project involves community partners working with Edinburgh Napier University to contribute to the local place plan being developed with support from the Scottish Government’s Chief Architect.

Date posted

6 February 2020

Wester Hailes, in south-west Edinburgh, is made up of seven distinct neighbourhoods; Calders, Clovenstone, Dumbryden, Hailesland, Harvester, Murrayburn, and Westburn.

Local residents there will get the opportunity to become community researchers, and get involved in a variety of placed-based activities with support from researchers from across the university. The work, backed by cutting-edge technology, will include virtual reality, oral and art-based storytelling projects and the creation of a book.
Previous research carried out by the university has shown that the seven neighbourhoods in Wester Hailes have a distinct identity, and the project will help local residents and organisations to better understand the challenges this presents and how creating a local place plan may help.

The collaborative approach in Seven Kingdoms of Wester Hailes – one of 25 place-based partnership projects to share a £500,000 funding pot – will bring new skills to the community and bolster its relationship with the university.

Project lead Dr Louise Todd, from the university’s Business School, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be leading on this fantastic public engagement and research initiative.
“This is an exciting interdisciplinary project that will involve researchers from across the whole university and at every stage in their academic career. Working with our network of community partners in Wester Hailes to co-create and co-design place-making activities, the project will be of tangible benefit to both the local community and to the university’s public engagement and research communities.”

Dawn Smith, Edinburgh Napier’s Public Engagement Officer, said: “UKRI funding provides the opportunity to work collaboratively to support the community in developing its Place Plan, creating a legacy and a stronger relationship between local residents and the university.”
Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent the public spaces as the heart of every community, strengthening the connection between people and the places they share.