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.
In 2012, the Big Lottery Fund in England invested £1 million in 150 neighbourhoods for its Big Local initiative. Northfleet, Kent, was one of the first 50 to be selected. The grant aimed to equip local communities with skills and tools to identify key areas and issues where action was reqiored in their area.
Science in the City is a project that is being carried out with residents in the Barbican and Mansell Street, in the City of London. Residents are using low-tech tools to measure Nitrogen Dioxide and particulates.