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Durham University

Research & business

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Jen Wingate

(email at


I have been working in the area of community development for over fifteen years, in voluntary and public sector organisations. My work has included being involved at the grassroots through to working at a regional and national level. For example providing funding advice and support for regeneration programmes, in the voluntary sector and a Regional Development Agency. I then went on to lead the community and voluntary sector areas of work for Inspire East (a regional centre of excellence for sustainable communities), where I had the pleasure of working with a range of practitioners across the East of England, through empowerment programmes and being the founding Chair of the Community Development Network East. Following that I worked at the IDeA (Improvement and Development Agency for local government), leading their community engagement work. This included developing the youth participation in local democracy programme and resources for councillors, as well as influencing national policy. Also, as a consultant, I have supported social enterprises and other organisations to map the social value they create.

In all roles I have tried to promote, and stay true to, community development principles and values. Whilst working I undertook a Master of Studies in Social Enterprise and Community Development, part time, at the University of Cambridge. In 2011 I joined Durham University with a 0.5+3 ESRC scholarship from the North East Doctoral Training Centre (NEDTC) to study for a Certificate in Social Research Methods and a PhD. Through this I hope to be able to draw on my practice experience to inform the research and to help support community development practitioners.

Field of Study

Understanding the relationships, mechanisms, individual and social factors that enable community development practices to spread.

This study is looking to explore how practitioners understand community development practice and what helps them to promote community development ways of working. The aim is to highlight how community development practice can be supported in these challenging times. The research has two main strands. In the first strand I am interviewing a number of people who have influenced thinking and practice development. In the second strand I am researching practitioners and the people they work with, to understand how they see their practice and what helps to promote it. The practitioners will be drawn from three case study areas: the North East, the East of England and Canada.

Link to personal pages

Twitter @jenwingate

I am also writing a blog of my research experiences, it is a private space for people engaged in the project, if you would like to read and comment on the blog please email me to be sent the link.


Research Interests

  • Community development
  • Engagement, involvement and participation
  • Local democracy
  • Social enterprise
  • Regeneration and sustainable communities
  • Social policy

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