We had a fantastic kick-start of a series of focus group discussions with Sheffield community groups and grassroots organisations. Together with Adam Yusuf and Robin Forsyth from Israac Somali Community Association and Patrick Meleady from Pitsmoor Adventure Playground, we explored some issues surrounding the background of their organisations, the activities they create with local communities, the views on their position in Sheffield, their experiences of collaboration with educational institutions and their ways of learning from experience.
‘How do you reach out to the people? What motivates you to do what you do? What ways of putting roots down did you experience/initiate? What is the involvement of individual members of the public? How have you collaborated with the University in the past? How do you document what you do over time? What methods of passing on knowledge and learning from experiences do you use?’
These were just some of the topics we discussed with Adam, Robin and Patrick this Wednesday. The organisations they are involved in — Israac and Pitsmoor Adventure Playground — were identified as some of the key community groups and grassroots organisations involved in community projects, who play an important strategic role in co-creating Sheffield. We are mapping such vibrant and innovative community initiatives on the ‘Network of Practices,’ a digital Sheffield-specific map of groups and organisations, who are actively engaged in transforming the built environment in various ways.
Feeding into the overarching research questions of Urban Education Live research project, the Focus Group debates have been structured around participants’ views and experiences of co-creation with communities, collaborations with the academia, documentation of work, and the relevant discourse in Sheffield.
An exploration of the current situation in Sheffield through initial mapping of ‘Network of Practices’, Focus Group discussions, and in-depth interviews, are aimed at identifying the underrepresented areas in Sheffield, where we will work towards establishing two new local community hubs over the next two years. These spaces will act as focal points where researchers and students can work together with local communities and relevant stakeholders.
Four more focus group discussions will be held in January and February 2018, with more relevant local initiatives and groups from the ‘Sheffield Network of Practices’.