This Engagement project will build on a legacy of social science informed community-based research over the last 10 years in two of the Welsh Government’s Communities First Clusters. The aim is to build on these past and current research projects and programmes to develop and pilot a sustainable model of collaborative research, education, engagement, knowledge exchange and impact between the University and local communities. Nationally, the project will work with Welsh Government (Communities, Health and Social Services Directorates in particular), the NHS in Wales (in the first instance Cwm Taf and Cardiff and Vale University Health Boards and Public Health Wales) as well as the Communities First network, the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, the Welsh Local Government Association and the Arts Council in Wales. Developing a model within two Communities First Clusters (one in Merthyr Tydfil and the other in Cardiff) will be followed up by a period of evaluation and then rolled out to the remaining Communities First Clusters within the University Health Board areas.
This project will use the long history and experience of community engagement possessed by the delivery team to complement another four Cardiff University flagship engagement projects. The links and experience the project team already have will enable innovative synergies and networks to develop.
The failure of a great deal of research in communities is that the model remains ‘extractive’ rather than ‘reciprocal’. The problem with such research is not that the communities are ‘over-researched’ but that community members are treated within the research as if they are laboratory samples rather than conscious interpreters of their own situations. This project will be a flagship in terms of co-production values and processes which will benefit the communities who live there and the people who provide services that support health and wellbeing. This will counteract any claims of ‘over-research on these communities’. In addition to a more engaged approach to research the project will utilise the full assets of communities and universities to improve the circumstances and opportunities for people living in Cardiff’s City Region as well as for University staff and students.
These will include:
- Opportunities to develop new interdisciplinary courses generated through new ways of working across University Schools and Colleges;
- Routes into undergraduate and post-graduate programmes for communities normally under-represented in higher education and for public sector staff in Masters and Professional Doctoral programmes;
- Development of the medical students undergraduate C21 programme particularly through their training placements at the Keir Hardie Health Park and develop opportunities for other health students particularly through providing opportunities to secure placements in community settings;
- Opportunities to develop research through a platform and a living arena for ongoing mutually beneficial community engagement, innovation, learning transfer and impact.
- Opportunities for the University to identify ways in which it can best utilise the existing skills of local communities in terms of its employment and training practices.
- Opportunities to develop sustainable, reciprocal relationships with local communities in which benefits are understood by all participants and which avoids the feeling that experts are being parachuted in or that the community is a “goldfish bowl”.