Keele University: Professor Kelemen’s and Dr Mangan’s current project is a literature review that aims to document the emergence of a particular form of community in its historical and cultural context: i.e., the personal community. In particular, it focuses on volunteering as a key aspect of personal community. The project evaluates the contribution of the personal community to sustaining and enhancing the quality of life of individuals in their local communities where such volunteering processes take place. This was achieved not merely by analysing existing written work on the topic but more importantly by sharing the findings with volunteering communities from Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme. The New Vic Borderlines has staged a participant led session and a documentary drama performance where the moving story of volunteering came alive (see visual evidence).

Southampton University: Professor Crow’s current research is concerned with the ‘democratisation’ of social research. He has previously been funded under the Connected Communities programme to undertake the project ‘Conceptualisations and meanings of “community”: the theory and operationalisation of a contested concept’. He is also a co-investigator on three current projects, ‘Temporal belongings research network’ (with M. Bastian, J. Siebers), ‘Music communities’, (with S. McAndrew, N.Crossley, R Communian) and ‘Community as microsociality and the new localism agenda’ (with V. Walkerdine, N Moore). He is currently writing about the reception of published community studies by members of the communities studied.

Brunel University: Dr Busayawan Lam’s current AHRC project focuses on identifying the value of co-design from community organisations’ perspectives and exploring how best for them to implement the co-design concept in their practices. The project focuses on enabling community organisations to co-design services with their beneficiaries so that they can serve them more effectively. The preliminary results show that community involvements are rather limited due to various constraints. Current practices are also significantly different from the academic model. The partner will share lessons to date and contribute to the current project by exploring the possibility of a win-win situation for both communities and academics.

The Open University: Dr Theodore Zamenopoulos is currently involved in the ‘Media, Community and the Creative Citizen’, a large £1.4m grant funded jointly by AHRC and EPSRC as a part of the Cross-Council Connected Communities and Digital Economy Programmes. The project aims to understand how creative citizenship generates value for communities within a changing media landscape and how this pursuit of value can be intensified, propagated and sustained. As part of this project the Open University has been awarded £226,000 to undertake research on ‘community-led design’, which will establish the value of creative citizens engaged in designing their own communities including public spaces, community facilities, housing or neighbourhood regeneration. The Open University team has been working collaboratively with their community partner The Glass-House Community Led Design to design and carry out the research activities in a manner which is relevant for the organisation’s vision and practice. For the current project they will share current results as well as knowledge about the process of creating this document. In addition to their experience in co-designing research with community partners they will also share existing links with community groups as well as academics involved in community research.

New Vic Borderlines, Newcastle-under-Lyme  is a charity that engages with the community and a range of partners, creating positive solutions, challenging negative behaviours, attitudes and actions and developing new and aspirational futures. Sue Moffat, its founding director, has received many national awards including two Global Ethics Awards, a prestigious Clarion Award and a national British Crime Concern award for reducing offending behaviour.  New Vic Borderlines that communities can create dynamic and positive relationships, imaginative and generous solutions and take on roles and responsibilities.  Their recent work with the Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office, brought about a touring play with workshops called ‘All Our Daughters?’ about forced marriage, reaching over 8000 beneficiaries and described by the Chief Crown Prosecutor Nazir Afzal as ‘Saving Lives’.

The Mondo Challenge Foundation, a charity focusing on education and livelihood development within deprived communities, will bring their expertise to explore the processes and resource options for capturing and interpreting needs and resilient community solutions.  Such communities will become more self-reliant, as they can learn to identify and solve problems themselves.

The Glass-House Community Led Design is a national charity that focuses on enabling community-led design through a more inclusive and participatory process which helps communities achieve their needs and aspirations.  They have been collaborating with academia in recent years to gain a better understanding of communal needs and improve the ways in which they engage with communities.

Professor Toru Kiyomiya from the Department of Literature, Seinan Gakuin University, Japan is our international partner. His research explores how communities affected by the Tsunami 2011 deal with its aftermath, how they find the needed spiritual and economic resources to build from within. In this context, his research has proposed practical solutions that account for the voices and concerns of the actual people who live and suffer in these localities. Building on organisational communication approaches in particular discursive formations, his research captures the collaborative attitudes of people under crisis, looking at how they attempt to recover their businesses in this context.