Representing Communities, led by Dr Eva Elliott, is a case study project looking at how the arts and humanities can illuminate and develop understanding of aspects of health and wellbeing for people living in certain communities across the UK. The case study sites are North Merthyr (Heads of the Valleys), Butetown (Cardiff), Hodge Hill (Birmingham), Cromarty (Black Isle) and Dennistoun (Glasgow). All case studies are working with local residents, community organisations and artists to collect and synthesise data through a range of methods including interviews, visual and mobile methods, film, music, history and performance.
Eva Elliott (Co-I) and Ellie Byrne (RA) are working in North Merthyr. So far, the case study has engaged with over 120 local residents including primary and secondary school pupils, older people and people working in community development. People have told us what they think of current media representations of their community, told us their life histories and talked about how the community has changed over time. We have also explored young peoples’ aspirations for their local community and for themselves in the future. Some of the specific activities have been storytelling, banner designing, song writing, poetry, drawing, photo-elicitation focus groups, community journalism and participatory film making. A highlight of the case study so far has been a banner march down the Taff Trail to the Millennium Centre in July, as part of the AHRC’s Connected Communities Festival. Over 200 people from Merthyr took part in the march, singing and dancing whilst carrying banners that young people had designed for their communities.
Each case study is distinct in terms of its population, the nuances of local life and the health issues faced by local people. However, we are beginning to see connections between some of the sites and we will develop these as the project continues. For more information please visit our website www.representingcommunities.co.uk.