I spent several years working in urban renewal and coastal regeneration, including the creation of a new civic square in Peterborough (commended by English Heritage and recipient of a national Landscape Institute award) and several townscape initiatives and a flagship museum on a seafront loaded with rock armour in Norfolk. I still enjoy undertaking a limited number of slightly less complex jobs for people and communities that I like working with. I feel privileged to have been part of projects that have become wider platforms for community participation and empowerment. Most have started with a simple vision articulated by a community with a dream and a wish for change.
As a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce and a Clore Fellow ‘Living Places’ I have showcased research focusing on volunteering, community leadership and local creative economies as part of the Arts Council-commissioned Participation and Engagement in the Arts Knowledge Exchange Network. I continue to write provocation papers and think pieces for several publications including Arts Professional, drawing on my experiences as a policy maker and track record for co-production and community-led planning in local government. This is during, what is arguably, one of the most disruptive and financially challenging periods in the history of our public services. I also have degrees in Urban Conservation, Sustainable Development and Policy.
From UEP’s very conception at the Connected Communities summit in Birmingham in 2010 my role and relationship within the team has fundamentally grown from a desire to support this fabulous piece of multi-disciplinary research. Hopefully I bring practical knowledge, lived experience and an alternative perspective to the workshop table.
Fundamentally as an independent policy and community sector researcher I provide a conceptual and critical overview of local public policy formation, processes and practice involving a range of stakeholders and environmental, social, economic and planning issues. As part of Work Package 3 this includes supporting the UEP team and core researchers across ecosystems in identifying key stakeholders as well as designing and facilitating local engagement activities as part of the research process. My aim and key interest as part of Work Packages 4 and 5 is to help the team examine and develop the role of values and empirical knowledge acquired as a consequence of the UEP research. Ultimately the drive is to ensure the research findings are set and implemented within local policy agendas as well as creating more practical applications that deliver tangible and lasting impact for all those involved.
Despite my default setting being sleep, an outcome of having a hyperactive and highly articulate three year old, I do enjoy going out and about. It’s probably connected to my love of heritage and the joy I get out of taking pictures, the two just seem to work so well together. In the past I have enjoyed an enormous amount of volunteering, mainly in museums. But more recently I have enjoyed participating in archaeological excavations and actively support a fantastic social enterprise called DigVentures – they are pioneers in crowdfunding and crowdsourcing heritage based projects here in the UK and most importantly they know how to have fun!