In the UK, there are growing concerns regarding the health and wellbeing of our ageing population. Problems of loneliness and isolation are widely documented, and stem from a range of social, economic and environmental factors. Further research is crucial to understanding how these problems can be alleviated in the future.
Design for Wellbeing is a multidisciplinary research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The project aims to investigate ‘community severance’; the concept that major transport infrastructure, such as busy roads, can negatively influence elderly people’s physical and psychological wellbeing, by segregating their community and restricting their mobility.
The project will explore this concept in four case study areas; Finchley Road (London), Woodberry Down (London), Southend-on-Sea, and a further site to be determined. All sites are characterised by the presence of major main roads.
Mapping for Change are responsible for the engagement of communities in each site. We have used our expertise in engagement to ensure the perspective of harder-to-reach elderly people has been included. Inclusive participatory mapping techniques have encouraged elderly residents to document their experiences of the local area, and maps have enabled us to carefully analyse residents’ perceptions of community severance.
We have carried out this engagement through a range of desk research and direct engagement. In each site, Mapping for Change have pursued a variety of qualitative research approaches including structured and semi-structured interviews, street surveys, and workshops.
MyAccessible.EU is a three year research project funded by the European Commission. It aims to make cities’ built environment more accessible for disabled and older people by challenging social attitudes, raising awareness and delivering assistive mobile applications. These mobile applications will provide tools for collectively gathering and sharing information about accessibility of public spaces.
In 2009, Mapping for Change supported communities across London to measure and map local air quality. Use of a ‘citizen science’ approach meant local residents in seven locations were able to collect data, then see the real results of their monitoring activities, and subsequently embark on a campaign to see the serious results addressed.
Funded under the Swiss Block Grant, Mapping for Change in collaboration with the Centre for Training and Personal Development MERITUM, the Cultural Authority City of Gardens and Highways 4 Elements carried out a two year training programme in the Silesia region of Poland.