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Growing up in coastal towns: exploring the impact of place on young people’s life

By UCL Global Youth, on 21 June 2021

Coastal towns have come to the fore in recent UK policy debates, as some of the most deprived neighbourhoods are now in coastal areas. These debates often raise concerns about the future of young people in these towns, largely because of the limited educational and employment opportunities in these communities. Despite this, there is almost no research on the impact of growing up in coastal communities on young people and their future prospects. The core aim of this project, therefore, is to consider: in what ways does growing up in a coastal town impact on young people’s experiences, aspirations, and life chances?

The project is particularly interested in the impact of place-based inequalities as coastal towns tend to have distinct characteristics because of:

  • Location and infrastructure (e.g. geographical isolation and poor transport links)
  • Local labour market (e.g. limited opportunities for stable, year-round employment).
  • Educational opportunities: (e.g. few post-16 institutions and difficulties recruiting teachers)
  • Demography: (e.g. high levels of youth out-migration and residents on low incomes)
  • Public and health services: (g. difficulties recruiting GPs; cuts to youth services)
  • Environment: (e.g. less polluted, but environmental degradation because of funding cuts and concentration of deprivation).

Our first task is to examine whether these characteristics create place-based inequalities that mean coastal towns are distinct from other deprived communities in the UK. If so, do these inequalities have a unique impact on the life chances of young people who grow up in coastal towns?

The second aim is to ask young people about their experiences of growing up in coastal communities and asking them if these experiences have shaped their aspirations for the future. At the same time, we will also ask them: what are the solutions they would propose to improve their coastal communities? What do they feel these communities need in order to provide a environment for young people where they can flourish?

This will be a mixed-method project that will combine secondary data analysis with more exploratory qualitative data collection activities that combine arts-based methods with co-production and collaborative activities with young people living in coastal towns. The project builds on previous work undertaken in Margate.

For further information, contact: Avril Keating.

Project team:

  • Avril Keating, Director of the Centre for Global Youth
  • Prof Claire Cameron, Professor of Social Pedagogy, Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU), and UCL-Institute of Education
  • Dr Michela Franceshelli, Associate Professor of Sociology, TCRU and UCL-Institute of Education
  • Dr Emily Murray, Senior Research Associate in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Faculty of Population Health Sciences.
  • Dr Stephen Jivraj, Associate Professor in Quantitative Social Science based in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Faculty of Population Health Sciences.
  • Rachel Benchekroun (Research Assistant)
  • Francesca McCarthy (Research Assistant)

Start date: 1 June 2021

End date: 28th Feb 2022

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