Imagine – connecting communities through research was a five-year research project (2012-17) funded by the Economic and Social Research Council under the Connected Communities programme. It had a focus on ‘civic engagement’ (the roles people play in the lives of their communities). It had four different ‘work packages’, which are described on the overall Imagine project website: www.imaginecommunity.org.uk.
Durham University coordinated Work Package 2 (Imagine2) on the historical context of civic engagement, which was led by Professor Sarah Banks, Durham University. The research was located in three places: Benwell in Newcastle; part of North Shields in North Tyneside; and Hillfields in Coventry. These three areas were formerly part of the National Community Development Project (CDP), which was Britain’s first national area-based anti-poverty programme in the 1970s.
In each area, teams of university researchers (from Durham and Warwick) and a range of community organisations undertook research and a programme of related activities. We looked at the work and legacies of the CDPs, the history of regeneration in each area, how local people have been involved (or not), the visions of local people, community workers, policy-makers and politicians (and how these differ) and considered how local communities can be engaged in imagining and creating better futures for their areas.
Imagining Benwell (2016) This film includes extracts from four films, made as part of community projects for Imagine North East. 'Filming change' is a film about the historic graveyard at St James Church in Benwell made by the St James' Heritage and Environment Group; 'Growing old in West Newcastle' shows a boat trip down the River Tyne to reflect how the area has changed. The boat trip was one of several activities for older people organised by Search; 'Never Felt so Good' shows the launch of an exhibition at St James' Church, Benwell, the culmination of a felting art project by St James' Centre for Heritage and Culture and 'Hopes and Fears', a film making project with young people by the Patchwork Project.
Imagine Project Video Playlist (4 videos) Some community partners created films as part of their Imagine North East project.
Articles in a themed issue of the Community Development Journal:
Imagining Benwell: Past, Present and Future
Imagining North Shields: Past, Present and Future