Featured Image: Guedioura’s Welcome To Nottingham (Forest Fans)
How we receive and welcome people has a massive effect on the way they perceive themselves and others. We all know this but we don’t realise how much the welcome (or exclusion and stigma) impacts on physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Neighbourhood is important in Clifford Stevenson’s inaugural lecture in the Newton Building on Weds 31st March 2022. It was open to the public as well as academics, professionals from across the UK and the world.
I went, it was great, inspiring. Professor Stevenson talked about neighbourhoods where we live in the shelter (or not) of each other (this quote from an Irish proverb about action research done in Limerick City: his work brings words like inclusion/exclusion/identity across cultures, lifespans and contexts to life.
The lecture was about the work so far across the world and in the detail of neighbourhoods. As Professor of Psychology and Director of Psychological Research at NTU, a member of the Groups, Identities and Health Research Group, Clifford and his team have just won funding for a new action research project Upscaling Inspiring Ashfield: Extending Ashfield’s Place-based Support for Social Prescribing across Mid-Notts Integrated Care Partnership. (£180k, AHRC). Feb 2022- Feb 2023. PI: Prof Clifford Stevenson; CIs: Dr Donna Champion, Prof Di Bailey, Prof Barbara Matthews.
To me the lecture was a bridge between the large scale distribution landscape of Covid support I’d worked on where giants like Serco supported by agencies had landed in neighbourhoods to deliver lateral flow, PCR testing, vaccination and advice through uncertain contracts and volunteers who wanted to help and where we are now, in a kind of realisation that neighbourhoods can, should, with the right welcome into their own lives, with the right conceptual tools, solve and transform their health, education, work, skill and creative futures.
Covid planning and execution was all command and control supply chains that were often wasteful and didn’t include the ingenuity inside universities in solutions with commercial partners like opticians, pharmacies, community centres where new sustainable products and services could have been supported. The community was seen as a volunteering extra that was trusted in the rural villages but automatically held at arm’s length in the cities.
In the next part of the post covid reconstruction with social and green prescribing we need to understand just who is in the neighbourhood and who can be part of the regeneration conversation.
The lecture made me think of the effort people are already putting in that we need to look more closely at and take forward. When you consider a place like Nottingham it’s full of locked down potential, it’s full of success and failure sitting together on the tram, in offices, in coffee bars, in doctor’s surgeries, shops, walking through the streets. We’re all moving, in process and it’s as if there never was such a thing as a shared community vision.
But what if there could be?
Above you can see Becky Riley’s joyful rebranding of some of the neighbourhoods in Nottingham. It was created as part of Left Lion’s Welcome to Nottingham for students in 2021 and it made me think how can we welcome the people who already live here into the history, stories and potential of Nottingham?
In the last seventy years after a second world war reconstruction that built massive council estates but also often closed the doors of the health, education, skills, work and business resources and help to the people who lived on those estates because of what we now see as bonkers views of social class, ethnicities, abilities and age.
So there’s a lot of social catch up to do. Nottingham’s confused inequalities and exclusions need a kinder eye: one that looks back to the desire for peace and prosperity of that second world war reconstruction period of the experiences of the great grandparents, grandparents, parents.
Let’s look at the hope, look at the aspirations, look at the achievements (in spite of the steering of whole communities into second and third rate mass consumerism).
Let’s have the kind of equal society where everyone can work constructively, creatively, contribute throughout their lives: let’s acknowledge that for regeneration to really begin we need to acknowledge that we need to learn and attribute the contribution of the people and situations who’ve taught us wherever and whenever we can.