Last night, I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at The University of Wolverhampton’s official launch for the new Institute for Community Research and Development.
The Institute, headed up by the impressive Professor Laura Caulfield, has already achieved so much in the last few months, some of which was showcased last night. From its work with Birmingham’s new Children’s Trust; tackling youth offending through music, to research and analysis, supporting approaches which challenge domestic violence behaviour in Wolverhampton.
The evening started by Laura explaining their bold vision to amplify this local work by influencing national policy, through partnership working.
Professor Geoff Layer – Vice Chancellor of the University told the audience that the Institute had been carefully planned and constructed over several years, to streamline their research and support the development of economic and social policies which make communities stronger and society better.
We also heard an impassioned presentation from Guardian writer, Lynsey Hanley who spoke about her experiences of growing up on the Chelmsley Wood estate as well as the impact of local and central Government policies on social housing, especially in the context of the Grenfell tragedy.
In March 2018, I worked with Dr Steve Iafrati, Senior Social Policy lecturer at UOW to launch Communities Uncovered, an evaluation of prevalent social needs in the Black Country.
Our goal was to use research to improve our distribution of funding as well as influence our development of funding programmes, working with donors.
Over a twelve-month period, I worked closely with Steve and colleagues to review, synthesise and analyse data and what we developed includes a range of pretty shocking statistics relating to education outcomes, child and adult obesity and serious illness rates to name just a few.
By working with UOW, we have been able to gain financial support to back our initative. The fact that the research has been produced independently using a professional institute gives us confidence in its accuracy and legitimacy and provides a unique platform for the Foundation to develop its approaches.
We are shortly due to launch a new fund which will help to support the recommendations from the report. We will be investing in local approaches to tackle the issues facing communities across the Black Country.
Our relationship with UOW is a long-term investment. We look forward to continued work with the team especially when we come to evaluate the impact of Communities Uncovered in 2019.
If you have a research or evaluation project and need some expertise, support, guidance and a healthy dose of FUN! Get in touch with Laura or Steve.
Senior Manager – Development
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