Flourishing communities


Research in this theme works to understand the issues enabling or preventing safe, healthy communities where families and individuals can flourish.

Projects A-Z 

Community engagement and restorative practice

Details and External Engagement

A number of staff are working on projects around community engagement, crime reduction and in particular, restorative Justice. This includes Dr Jon Hobson, Dr Kenny Lynch, Dr Andrew Stafford, and Dr Brian Payne, at Ulster University. This work includes several evaluation projects funded by Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime commissioner, including an evaluation of a successful police-led social crime prevention initiative; and evaluation of safety in the night time economy; and an evaluation of an innovative series of youth forums between police and young people across Gloucestershire.  It also includes an evaluation of opportunities for the smart commissioning of services dealing with alcohol related harm in Cheltenham, funded by Cheltenham Borough Council. As well as the evaluation work, several academic articles have been published or are in submission analysing this material.

The work on restorative Justice has developed from these initial evaluations, with Dr Jon Hobson a steering group member of Restorative Gloucestershire. Dr Hobson, along with Dr Payne and Dr Lynch, a practitioner conference is planned for 2019, to be held at ulster University. This conference aims to share developments between the two regions and explore the challenges and future opportunities for restorative practices.



Community Ownership of Local Assets

Dr Kenny Lynch, Dr Jon Hobson and Dr Hazel Roberts have been examining the process of handover of previously local authority-run facilities to community ownership, in particular what conditions are required to make this transition sustainable.  In the United Kingdom, the transfer of ownership of certain assets to local community control has been a common response to the financial constraints under which local authorities have operated since the global economic crisis of 2008. This transfer presents a range of challenges, particularly for rural communities and communities that struggle with issues of poverty. The work makes several arguments related to the conditions required for sustainable community ownership of transferred assets. First, that legitimacy for asset transfer may be established through engaging a wider range of community members and a greater sense of community ownership post-transfer. Such developments pose a potential challenge to narratives that see asset transfer as the result of neoliberal doctrines and as legitimating neoliberal objectives.   Second, that it is the presence of sufficient human, social, physical, and financial capital that can help ensure an asset is sustainable in community ownership.

The work was partly funded by Tewkesbury Borough Council, who engaged the team to explore the success of assets that had been transferred into community ownership. The report was delivered in 2016. The work also formed the basis of a presentation to British Sociological Association Conference in 2018, and published in the Journal of Rural Studies in 2019.

Publications  and outputs from this work

Families, Ageing & Wellbeing in the Global South

This body of work, conducted by Dr Rachel Bennett, explores wellbeing in the Global South with a focus on families, intergenerational support and older people. The geographical focus is predominately sub-Saharan Africa, especially South Africa and Kenya, but has also encompassed Europe and Central Asia. The work is predominately based on analysing large, often longitudinal, household surveys.

As part of this ongoing work, Dr Bennett was part of a team that produced a report for the United Nations Population Fund evaluating the implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and also co-edited a special issue of the International Journal on Ageing in Developing Countries on the implementation of the MIPAA in developing regions.

Publications and output from the work

Rurality as a vehicle for Urban Sanitation Transformation

Rurality as a vehicle for Urban Sanitation Transformation (RUST) is an Economic and Social Research Council and Indian Council of Social Science Research jointly funded project.  This UK-India collaboration is led by Cranfield University in which Dr Kenny Lynch and Dr Dilshaad Bundhoo are collaborating with the University of Hyderabad and Bangor University to examine how the strong rural connections of these communities, sustained by circular migration and the continued importance of traditional livelihoods, can be used to strengthen sanitation systems. Drawing on local perspectives on resource use, waste management and other areas, it will identify ways that approaches such as recycling can be adapted to these urban contexts.

The University of Gloucestershire contribution to the project is to manage a 3,000 household questionnaire survey of households across the city and from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, followed up by 30 interviews of residents representing all generations and ages.  The fieldwork design covers a variety of different urban environments in central Hyderabad and surrounding areas, will explore the environmental, economic and social intersections around these issues through participatory research with community stakeholders. The findings will assist providers and local authorities with the design of innovative, cost effective and environmentally sound sanitation practices in underserved urban areas of India. This project was initiated in May 2018 and will continue till April 2020.

Publications and outputs from this work

This project is in the data collection phase.  Outputs are in development.

Supported Housing, government policy, and change

Dr Jon Hobson and Dr Kenny Lynch, along with other colleague for parts of the project, have been exploring the challenges faced in the supported housing sector over the past 8 years. Supported housing is a particular complex sub-section of the housing sector, and generally refers to social or state housing provided in conjunction with additional support to help people develop the skills required for independent living.  This work examines the changes to the supported housing sector partly as a result of austerity and partly as a result of politically initiated structural and funding changes.  The work identifies trends that can be identified across the sector, including state withdrawal, reduced and restructured funding models that constrain providers and, crucially, a process of residualisation that reduces state involvement in the sector to only individual support for the most vulnerable and ‘at risk’ clients.  As part of the ongoing work, Dr Hobson and Dr Lynch gave evidence to the Communities and Local Government and Work and Pensions Committees Joint Select committee investigation into the Future of Supported Housing, the subsequent report citing parts of this evidence.

Publications and outputs from this work