Partners from the University of Udine and University of Oulu joined us for a two day seminar that ran from the 17th-18th May and formed part of the ‘Active Citizenship in Social Housing (ACts)‘ project, funded under the Grundtvig Life Long Learning Programme. The seminar provided an opportunity for partner institutions to learn more about Mapping for Change’s use of participatory mapping with communities in the UK.
ACtS looks to explore the use of participatory mapping, visual anthropology and identity building, and informal education in facilitating participation, active citizenship and intercultural dialogue with communities at risk of segregation in social housing environments. Each partner specialises in the use of different methods and hopes to learn and draw on the expertise of the consortium.
On the first day participants were given a brief history of social housing in the UK, by Femi Adekunle. He discussed the growth in the buy-to-let sector and the ‘institutionalisation of scarcity’ within housing in Britain. Yeukai Taruvinga shared with partners some of the programs and services provided by Praxis, a charity that supports refugees, migrants and undocumented refugees. Just some examples of the great work undertaken by the organisation include Brighter Futures. The network gives young asylum seekers and refugees a voice and strives to influence policy. Rayne Fellowships for Refugees offers funding for ‘Big Ideas‘ that will change lives or transform communities. Averil Lekau, a Thamesmead resident of 32 years, discussed what she had learned from other local residents who have engaged in participatory activities run by Mapping for Change. ” It was a great way to get people talking and I was able to identify the spaces people most enjoyed and valued; areas people are concerned about on issues such as safety and litter. I halve already addressed some of these with our Councillor who is going to walk around with me to identify some of locations mapped.”
In the afternoon partners were taken on a tour of Hackney Wick and got see two quite different sides to developments in the area. As ‘newcomers’, we were keen to ask our partners to carry out some perception mapping during their walk-about. Their initial observations included the stark contrast between the “older poorly maintained houses compared with the new developments and Olympic Park.” Another perception highlighted was the “lack of spaces for social interaction” within central Hackney Wick. In a later session comparisons were made between the visitors’ and local residents’ views, which were captured back in 2008, via their community map. Armed with this local information prior to their visit, would the partners have had a different perception of the community and its inhabitants?
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