Supporting communities

Keele has a long and well established history of cutting edge research that helps us to understand the challenges faced by a range of different communities, families, households and individuals. Our research covers areas as diverse as health and well-being, migration, community safety, youth offending, anti-social behaviour, housing, employment, safeguarding, domestic abuse, crime prevention, urban and rural environments, autonomy and resilience and many other areas. But these aren’t the only communities we support. We have a growing track record of working in collaboration with and supporting communities of practice - practitioners from local and national government, public sector agencies, criminal justice agencies, charities and voluntary/third sector agencies.

The last few decades have seen significant changes in the way policy makers and practitioners, including charities and volunteers, are working towards supporting communities, or towards safeguarding those in them who suffer the burden of multiple vulnerabilities. It is often the case now that such support is organised in or through partnerships which combine expertise from a wide variety of disciplinary and professional backgrounds. Researchers in our Supporting Communities team are eager to explore opportunities to work with such inter-disciplinary and inter-professional communities of practice, and with external partners more broadly, to co-create research for addressing complex challenges that have a negative impact on regions, neighbourhoods, communities and individuals.  Although research under this stream tends to be locally rooted, we are also keen to examine these complex challenges in broader national and international contexts.

Research within this overall stream contributes to the above themes in a variety of ways by focussing on an extensive number of areas and fields, and by deploying a wide diversity of research strategies and methods.  Interdisciplinary research areas here include crime and conflict, criminal policy, policing and crime prevention, punishment and penal policy and practice, access to justice, community building, cultural and artistic regeneration, volunteering and third sector work, community engagement and activism. There are many ways in which particular groups or communities can see their capacity for dealing with adversity - or resilience - depleted.  A loss of access to resources, destructive levels of competition, conflict and strife, and crippling levels of crime, for example, can and often do have a detrimental impact on the social, cultural and civic resilience of communities. The irony is that some reactions to this loss of resilience, whether collective or not, tend to exacerbate the problem.  Extreme precautionary and protective measures based solely on strategies that aim to exclude and control do little to restore community resilience.  The issue then is to imagine, research, and assess interventions that aim to restore, regenerate, and maintain community resilience in ways that are not ultimately self-defeating.  This requires insight in the civic, social and cultural dimensions and aspects of resilience and its conditions, as well as in their psychodynamic and emotional underpinnings.