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Durham University

Centre for Social Justice and Community Action

Imagine - connecting communities through research

Imagine – connecting communities through research was a five-year research project (2012-17) funded by the Economic and Social Research Council under the Connected Communities programme. It had a focus on ‘civic engagement’ (the roles people play in the lives of their communities). It had four different ‘work packages’, which are described on the overall Imagine project website: A booklet produced in two days in September 2017 to celebrate the work of the project can be found here.

Durham University coordinated Work Package 2 (Imagine2) on the historical context of civic engagement, which wasled by Professor Sarah Banks, Durham University. The research was located in three places: Benwell in Newcastle; part of North Shields in North Tyneside; and Hillfields in Coventry. These three areas were formerly part of the National Community Development Project (CDP), which was Britain’s first national area-based anti-poverty programme in the 1970s.

In each area, teams of university researchers (from Durham and Warwick) and a range of community organisations undertook research and a programme of related activities. We looked at the work and legacies of the CDPs, the history of regeneration in each area, how local people have been involved (or not), the visions of local people, community workers, policy-makers and politicians (and how these differ) and considered how local communities can be engaged in imagining and creating better futures for their areas.

The original aims and objectives of Imagine2 can be downloaded here.

Publications, including reports of events, research reports, census statistics, films and articles can be found here.


Professor Sarah Banks (Principal Investigator),

Dr Andrea Armstrong (Researcher, North East)

Professor Mick Carpenter (Lead for Coventry Research)

Ben Kyneswood (Researcher, Coventry)

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