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Whitley Big Local and Participatory Action Research: Developing a community ‘toolkit’

This research aims to develop the impact of a recent participatory community research project with the Whitley Big Local, Reading, by creating a participatory methods ‘toolkit’ that can be used by communities seeking to undertake action research. We are seeking an enthusiastic and creative placement student to work with our existing term to develop and design materials that can be used across different media platforms and inform best practice at the national level.

Department: Geography & Environmental Science

Supervised by: Dr Sally Lloyd-Evans

The Placement Project

This research aims to develop the impact of a recent participatory community research project with the Whitley Big Local, Reading, by creating a participatory methods ‘toolkit’ that can be used by communities seeking to undertake action research across the UK. In 2012, Whitley in Reading secured £1 million ‘Big Local’ National Lottery Funding for community development over 10 years as part of a national project (http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/local-news/1-million-project-improve-community-7947918). Following the principles of participatory action research (PAR), staff and students from Geography and Environmental Science partnered with local residents, community organisations, representatives from the Big Local and the Northumberland Training Academy (NTA) to set up a network called the ‘Whitley Researchers’ (http://localtrust.org.uk/news/blogs/community-research-in-big-local-areas). Our first project, ‘Working Better with Whitley: exploring the everyday transport needs and experiences of local communities in South Reading’ has been successful in transforming local community engagement and creating policy impacts. The second project on ‘financial exclusion’ starts in 2016 with the launch of a new community research programme in SAGES. We are seeking an enthusiastic and creative placement student to work with our existing term to develop and design a community toolkit that can be used across different media platforms and inform best practice.

Tasks

The placement student will be involved in the preparation of a national review of exisiting community research resources; planning and assisting with the interviews, focus groups and analyzing interview data; work with the 'Whitley Researchers' and community organisations to document their research practices and experiences; assist with the toolkit development and design. There will also be opportunities to contribute to an academic publication.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

Good verbal and written communication skills are essential, along with sound IT skills, but creative skills or experience in product or web design, marketing or social media would be an advantage. We will provide further training and support in participatory methods and qualitative techniques.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

This placement provides valuable experience in project management and allows for the development of qualitative research skills, experience in methodological design and networking with local voluntary and public sector organisations. Verbal communication skills will be developed through the interaction with the Whitley Researchers and community groups, and writing skills will be enhanced through the development of the toolkit. In addition, the placement will provide an ideal opportunity for a student to develop skills in marketing, creative design and communication.

Place of Work

The placement will be based in the Department of Geography and Environmental Science (Russell Building) and in community locations in Whitley, South Reading, with some meetings in London (travel expenses will be paid)

Hours of Work

We require six weeks research assistance from a UROP student working hours to suit over the summer. Hours/Weeks are flexible and part-time is an option.

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 27 June 2016 - Friday 09 September 2016

How to Apply

Please send a covering letter (maximum one page) and CV (maximum two pages) to d.mitchell@reading.ac.uk by Thursday 24th March 2016. Successful applicants will be invited for an interview at the start of the summer term.


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