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Global Youth


An interdisciplinary research centre that examines what it means to grow up in a global world


Growing up in coastal towns: Emerging Findings Report

By UCL Global Youth, on 14 November 2022

Post by Dr. Avril Keating, Director, Centre for Global Youth

A team of researchers from UCL, Young Advisors, and Youth Action are today launching a report of their findings about growing up in coastal towns.

Over the last two years we have been conducting exploratory research in North East Lincolnshire. Building on our earlier research in Margate, we examined how growing up in coastal towns shapes young people’s experiences, aspirations, and life chances. We focused in particular on two towns in the area: Grimsby (a post-industrial town) and Cleethorpes (a seaside town).

Our collaboration with Young Advisors (a national charity) and Youth Action (based in North East Lincolnshire) led to 6 members of Young Action joining our team as Young Researchers. Together, we developed a range of place-based methods of data production and piloted these through a series of research activities, including focus groups, walking interviews, and in-depth interviews. We included the views of both young people and older people who grew up in the 1950s and 60s, to take a look at how coastal youth life chances have changed over the generations.

We generated a rich body of data from these research encounters, and we are preparing a number of publications to share these findings. Today, we are pleased to announce the publication of our Emerging Findings report, which sets out our preliminary thoughts and findings.

One clear message from the report is that young people in North East Lincolnshire feel that there are not enough things for them to do, or places for them to go. These feelings of boredom and exclusion are compounded by (1) their sense that their towns are in economic decline and (2) the fact that there are too many places in the towns that do not feel safe.

A second key finding is that many of the young participants felt that they have to move away from the area in order to access higher education and/ or high-skilled work. Data from the older residents helped us to understand that this mobility imperative is relatively new. They told us that when they were growing up, there were far more (and better) employment and leisure opportunities for young people in the area.

You can find out more about our projects and our findings in our new report Growing up in coastal towns – emerging findings (2022).  This report benefited from the input of a wide range of collaborators. We want to thank:

  • the Young Researchers that collaborated with us on this project
  • the residents of North East Lincolnshire who took part in this research, for generously sharing their experiences and views with us.
  • the organisations and agencies in North East Lincolnshire who helped make this co-produced project happen (particularly: Emma Lingard, Associated British Ports; Grimsby Town Hall; ABP Archives and North East Lincolnshire Archives Team; and the school, community and youth groups who very kindly hosted our focus groups (we will not name them to maintain confidentiality of participants).
  • the members of our Advisory Group who shared their time and expertise to help guide us with Phase 2 of the project (Joanne Lee from Young Advisors; and Professors Anna Tarrant, Carenza Lewis, and Mark Gussy from University of Lincoln); and
  • our funders: the UCL IOE Strategic Investment Board, UCL Grand Challenges and the UCL Pro-Vice-Provost (UK).

To cite this report: Benchekroun, R., Keating, A., Cameron, C. and Curtin, P. (2022) Growing up in coastal towns – emerging findings (2022). Published online: https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/global-youth/

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