UCLan seeks community partners to work on social change projects

23 May 2019

New Institute of Citizenship, Society and Change aims to tackle social, environmental, economic, technological and cultural problems in community

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is calling for local community groups, charities and public service agencies to work on a host of projects designed to make social and environmental changes.

The newly launched UCLan Institute of Citizenship, Society and Change has brought together experts in many areas that affect modern society; including environmental crisis, poverty, inequality and social exclusion. The idea behind the Institute is to invite interested parties to work collaboratively with the researchers on developing practical projects to tackle a variety of issues, with the Institute using its expertise to apply for funding from a variety of external sources.

One example is the Stories2Connect project, which won Research Project of the Year at the recent Educate North Awards. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, it allowed young people with disabilities and/or experiences of the care system to tell their stories to inform and educate the general public and professionals.

Working with Professor Candice Satchwell from UCLan and other partners, including Barnardo’s, the young people co-created fictionalised stories to represent their perspectives; and co-designed story-telling machines so that their stories could be told in new and exciting digital ways, as films as well as storybooks, to have impact on a wide range of audiences.

The key focus of the Institute comes under three strands of;

Social justice and sustainability
Relationships, risks and safety
Community and the public realm

Other project ideas in the pipeline include community food growing initiatives, locally produced energy that is governed by the community, developing more sustainable transport and working with the Harris Museum on citizen engagement using art, technology and historical artefacts.

Dr Nicky Stanley, co-director of the Institute of Citizenship, Society and Change, said: “Our world today faces many urgent and complex problems that can only be addressed by bringing together many different kinds of knowledge and experience. Through the Institute we want to bring together scientists, artists, engineers, social researchers and many others to come up with new ways of addressing the social, environmental, economic, technological and cultural problems we face.  

"It was really encouraging to see more than 100 people from community groups and public services attend our launch."

“We’re really keen to work with members of the local community to develop projects that can improve the way we live and encourage people who are keen to work with us to get involved. It was really encouraging to see more than 100 people from community groups and public services attend our launch.”

The initiative has close ties to the Preston Model; an inclusive economy approach that aims to keep profits localised by redirecting key anchor institutions’, including UCLan, spending power back into local businesses.

Preston Labour Party has been central to the establishment of the Preston Model and gave its backing to the new UCLan Institute.

Councillor Peter Moss, Cabinet member for Planning and Regulation and Deputy Leader at Preston City Council, said: “I fully endorse and congratulate UCLan’s work in developing and now launching this Institute.

“This is a terrific opportunity for grassroots projects and communities to work collaboratively in order to help improve lives. I would encourage community groups to get involved with the Institute to help make positive social and environmental changes in Preston and the wider area.”

Rob Hopkins, activist and writer on environmental issues, gave a keynote speech at the launch event.

He said: “It was such an honour to speak at the launch of the Institute. I explored some of the ideas in my forthcoming book 'From What Is to What If', about how the boosting of our collective imagination might be one of the most important tasks at hand. I talked about how important it is that we perfect the art of asking good 'what if' questions, and how that might change how we do activism, illustrating it with stories from around the world. I also got the audience into pairs to try to think of as many different uses as possible for a paper coffee cup, filling the room up with imagination and creativity.”

Organisers of the Institute’s launch event received positive feedback on social media.

One attendee, Laura Broome, Tweeted: “What if...play was at the heart of the everyday? What if...we considered a healthy imagination as vital for our health? Addressing issues very  close to my heart & my work. Inspiring talk by @robintransition @UCLanICSC.”

Jonathon Prasad, Project officer with Lancashire BME network, wrote on Twitter: “"The launch of @UCLanICSC is a much-needed research institute which will offer ground-breaking research by harnessing a multi-disciplinary approach. I'm looking forward to closely watching its growth over the next few years #ICSCLaunch #inclusivecitizenship #publicprivatespaces.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about the Institute of Citizenship, Society and Change can email InstituteCSC@uclan.ac.uk or call 01772 895123 or 893425.