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UCL Public Engagement Blog



Engagement in lockdown: A new blog series

By Caroline Francis, on 21 February 2021

Over the past year, the engagement team has worked hard to continue to support UCL researchers and staff to engage with communities, albeit in new and different ways. In this new blog series, we’ll be sharing insights from the community engagement team and those involved in projects we’ve funded, considering a variety of perspectives and reflecting on the value of continuing this work within an unprecedented and challenging context.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on many of the communities we work with. In May 2020, the UCL Engagement team set up a rapid response funding scheme to explore how the university could best ‘Listen and Respond’ to the needs of communities and the voluntary sector in London as they confront COVID-19.

We invited individuals from across four UCL Community Engagement funded projects to share their experiences with us. Three of the projects have been funded through Listen and Respond and the fourth through the Community Engagement Seed Fund.

With engagement activities pivoting online practically overnight we wanted to find out what these projects have looked like over the past year; what have been the challenges, as well as the merits, of continuing public engagement work during the global pandemic.

Read on for a taster on what’s to come:

Exploring the disproportionate financial impact of COVID-19 on diverse ethnic communities through co-production. Institute of Global Prosperity and Money A+E.

In the first blog of this series, Suzy (Marketing and Communications lead) explores the collaboration between researchers at the UCL Institute of Global Prosperity and Money Advice + Education (Money A+E), an organisation empowering diverse ethnic communities and disadvantaged groups by providing financial advice and education. Within the context of COVID-19, and its disproportionate impact on BAME communities, the project sought to better understand the impact Money A+E’s services have had not only on people’s financial health but also their skills, confidence, and overall wellbeing.

The project has been supported by funding from Listen and Respond.

Cricket and the Windrush generation: a project exploring the legacy of cricket in London’s Caribbean communities.

The second blog in this series Montaz Marche, UCL alumni and research assistant for Windrush Cricket. This oral history project explores the rich history of Caribbean cricket teams that emerged with the Windrush generation (1949-74). The project was a collaboration between UCL Professor Michael Collins, Hackney Council, and Hackney Museum. In the blog, Montaz will share her experience of working on the project, tracing stories from local members of cricket teams, both past, and present, whilst also discovering some of her own family connections to the sport.

The project has been supported by funding from Community Engagement Seed Fund.

Youth prosperity: empowering young east Londoners to solve issues that affect their community.

Next up, we hear from two of the young designers working on Fuse, a co-design project led by youth design agency The Plug, Hackney Quest youth charity and the Institute for Global Prosperity at UCL. Fuse responds to the complex challenges young people growing up in east London face to achieve their aspirations in a context of widening inequalities and COVID-19-related economic decline. In this blog, Diana and David will reflect on what they’ve learnt throughout the project so far, including how their peers have managed to support one another during this period.

The project has been supported by funding from Listen and Respond and Community Engagement Seed Fund.

Working with young people in Newham to ensure accessible services during covid-19.

In the final blog, Mariana and another young person from Newham will share their experiences of working with HeadStart Newham, Fight for Peace, and the Youth Empowerment team, and researchers from UCL CASA to create a map of activities and services for families, children, and young people living in Newham. From developing skills in software design and marketing, Mariana’s blog focuses on what she’s gained from participating in the project.

The project has been supported by funding from Listen and Respond.

About the funding:

The Community Engagement Seed Fund is a small grants funding round designed to support the development of engagement activities and partnership opportunities with east London communities.

Listen and Respond is a rapid response funding scheme aimed at connecting Voluntary Community Sector organisations with people and groups within UCL who are interested and able to provide them with support in dealing with the immediate impact of COVID-19 – particularly for the most vulnerable in our communities – as well as it’s longer term effects.

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