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Productive Margins

This five year programme, funded by the ESRC, is led by the University of Bristol in partnership with Cardiff University.  The programme asks: What happens when diverse communities and academics come together to re-shape engagement and work creatively with ideas that run through society, law, history and art?  Working with academics from different disciplines, community partners and artists we aim to release the creativity, knowledge and passions of people often at the margins of decision-making and power to co-produce new forms of research, engagement and decision-making.

The first project in the Productive Margins Programme in Wales is The Heads of the Valleys Project: Developing Methods for Engagement.  Over the past 10-11 months, members of CISHeW (Dr Eva Elliott; Dr Gareth Thomas), SOCSI (Prof Emma Renold), UPSI (Prof Martin Innes, Eve Exley, Dr Trudy Lowe), and the University of Aberdeen (Prof Gabrielle Ivinson) have been involved in a research project on young peoples’ experiences of safety, health/wellbeing, regulation, and place in Merthyr Tydfil. The following activities have been (or will be) carried out with young people in the area:

  • 56 interviews using qualitative GIS technology in two schools;
  • Focus groups, map-making exercises, and working with ‘crime maps’ produced by the South Wales police in one school;
  • Working with a school to organise a campaign/public action with Citizens UK around the litter (particularly the signs of drug use) and darkness (i.e. lack of street lighting) in the area – related to the Citizens UK ‘Brighter Futures’ campaign;
  • Started a lunchtime club in one school on ‘healthy relationships’, everyday sexism, and sexual harassment;
  • Produced a collaborative film with young people at a local youth project titled ‘Light Moves’. This was premiered at the Connected Communities Festival 2015 and we are seeking parental permission for wider distribution of the film;
  • Developing further art-work and possibly a film with the same local youth project as a continuation on from Light Moves. This will be focused on expressions of place and will culminate in a public performance/installation in Merthyr and/or Cardiff.

If anyone would like any further information on the project, please contact Dr Gareth Thomas (thomasg23@cf.ac.uk) or Dr Eva Elliott (ElliottE@cf.ac.uk) or visit the Productive Margins website: http://www.productivemargins.ac.uk