UCLan teams up with Brookfield Spaceplace to launch Preston map containing valuable local information
An interactive map of Preston containing valuable local information, such as beauty spots, sports facilities and community groups, has been launched by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and charity Brookfield Spaceplace, teaming up with NewsSocial Cooperative.
The YourMap project is collating key community assets to include in an interactive map of Preston, divided into 14 of the city’s wards, for the general public to use and contribute to. It might be an activity, voluntary groups, a venue, a locally grown business, an individual, a potential opportunity, a service or a place of interest or beauty. The only criteria is that each addition to the map needs to bring benefits to local residents.
"This has obvious benefits for members of the local community, who wish to access a particular service or community asset but would not otherwise know where this might be found. "— UCLan Professor of Economics Philip Whyman
The project, funded by Research England’s Enhancing Research Culture, began in February last year and has been led by UCLan’s Professor Philip Whyman and Julian Manley, alongside local charity Brookfield Spaceplace that runs social welfare activities for the people of Brookfield.
It was officially launched at a special event at the Catherine Beckett Community Centre in Deepdale.
UCLan Professor of Economics Philip Whyman said: “Citizen researchers were asked to map community resources within their local wards. This has obvious benefits for members of the local community, who wish to access a particular service or community asset but would not otherwise know where this might be found.
"Developing an infrastructure that enables this local activity is what the City needs rather than external service providers."— Chris Davis from Brookfield Spaceplace
“It also has benefits for the local authority when considering where to invest in future community assets and services. It provides a benchmark against which to measure the development of community assets in Preston and hence, can help to both inform the development of the Preston Model and measure its successes over time.”
Chris Davis from Brookfield Spaceplace said: “YourMap is a celebration of using ‘local’ initiative that presents an opportunity to find solutions locally. Developing an infrastructure that enables this local activity is what the City needs rather than external service providers.”
Identifying food growing and food distribution opportunities among local assets is a key strategy for the project. UCLan project assistant Alina Belousova is involved in YourMap in a personal capacity through her organic fruit and vegetable box scheme, Back to Eden, which delivers locally sourced organic food to all areas of Preston.
"It is our hope that with the help of YourMap people can find more local projects and people that bring value to the community and start using their services, instead of going elsewhere. This is what it means to invest locally and to build community wealth."— UCLan project assistant Alina Belousova
Alina said: “YourMap is an excellent resource as it aims to be inclusive. You can find people who are actively engaged in the community, who organise events, fundraising activities, walk dogs and do so many other things. It helps you to understand that can have not only a physical asset in the area, but a human one too.
"Apart from my work at UCLan I help in the community from time to time and run a local and organic veg box scheme called Back to Eden and, so we have put it on the map as well.
“It is our hope that with the help of YourMap people can find more local projects and people that bring value to the community and start using their services, instead of going elsewhere. This is what it means to invest locally and to build community wealth.”
Dr Julian Manley, Professor of Social Innovation in the Centre for Citizenship and Community at UCLan, commented: “YourMap’s bigger objective is to get Preston working cooperatively. It can potentially be a useful tool for creating more cooperatives by identifying grassroots organisations that might want to turn into co-ops in the future, and in turn hire and source their materials from local people, thereby building more wealth in the community.
“The project really demonstrates how the University and community can work together to achieve a mutual goal and we hope it will deliver tangible benefits for all involved.”
"The project really demonstrates how the University and community can work together to achieve a mutual goal and we hope it will deliver tangible benefits for all involved."— Dr Julian Manley, Professor of Social Innovation in the Centre for Citizenship and Community at UCLan
Dr Ali Al-Assam of the NewsSocial Cooperative added: “We are happy to have provided the NewsSocial platform for citizen researchers to record and store community assets in Circles representing various Preston wards.
“We look forward to a next stage of the project, where we can provide live and dynamic community asset mapping, by capturing people’s activities in NewsSocial Circles.”