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 Stratford Road (Birmingham). 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.
You can download a final version of the Street Mobility Project Toolkit here. Get PDF.
Mapping for Change in collaboration with the Humanities Education Centre (HEC) and local specialist on learning and ‘place’ Maggie Hewitt, worked with three schools in Tower Hamlets (Columbia School Community Map, Arnhem Wharf School Community Map and John Scurr School Community Map) to pilot a brand new process in which Year 4 pupils develop personalised maps of their local area with their own likes, memories and views on change.
WeGovNow is a three year research and innovation project focusing on civic participation in local government. It aims to change the relationship between citizens and local governments, transforming the citizen’s role from customer into partner. This is to be achieved with the development of a single community engagement platform, where citizens can interact with their governments and participate in local decision-making.
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.