In 2013 the ‘Irwell Valley Sustainable Communities Project’ recruited ten local people to conduct research into sustainable living in East Salford.
The research project has provided a group of residents with the language and tools to investigate issues, increase their understanding of climate change and impart the significance of their findings to their neighbours.
The Community Researchers meet for twelve weeks to plan how they would collect data and work towards a ‘Skills for Community Research’ Level 3 module, accredited by Open Awards.
It was important for each Researcher to recognise the value of their individual light bulb moment.
“I believe that due to the economic situation, benefit reforms and increasing food prices, residents in East Salford could benefit massively by growing their own food and living a more sustainable and healthier lifestyle. Life doesn’t get better by chance. It gets better by change”. Julie Stewart, Community Researcher.
On completion of the 12 week project the Researchers presented their findings to the ‘Irwell Valley Sustainable Communities Project’ Partnership Group and to the East Salford Community Committee. This enabled the Researchers to share their knowledge with local residents and organisations and promote the benefits of community based research.
“Residents are more willing to talk to and are more receptive to someone they know rather than someone from the Council or statutory agencies. …being a recognisable face helped people be more open and honest in their opinions and feedback. …residents were more willing to engage and ask questions”. Jackie Harrison, Community Researcher – extract from her research assignment.
Salford City Council has recognised the Researcher’s skills in engaging local people. They have commissioned the Researchers to conduct surveys about the development of Peel Park and Irwell River Park as local amenities and sustainable transport routes.
Community based research allows those with the biggest stake in the research to influence its shape and content. It reinforces the idea that local people are experts in their own lives and their interpretation of reality holds the key to change.
Please check out our video about the project on our U-tube page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiB9mJEp_Ro