Residents of Old Swan recently gathered in the Joseph Lappin Centre on Mill Lane for the launch of Better Old Swan (BOS), an initiative designed to help improve the area through initiatives focused on the local economy, with a particular focus on the high street. The project will put research into action to trigger positive change for the area.
“Local people bring their own skills and interests,” says Paula Atherton of LCVS, who is co-ordinating the three-year pilot research programme in the district in partnership with the Collaborative Learning Applied Health Research and Care North West Coast (CLAHRC NWC). ”Residents recruited as champions for the project will receive support, plus accredited training in research and engagement methods, helping them develop skills in addition to helping build up their own local area.”
Part of the project is to identify what businesses can flourish on the Old Swan high street and the opportunities for bringing back void shops into trading ventures. Evidence from existing studies on the subject of resilience in communities and sustaining local high streets has already been gathered and presented to the residents by academics from Lancaster University, as well as local initiatives which have stimulated growth across other areas of Liverpool.
Through the programme LCVS and CLAHRC NWC staff will support local people and encourage them to design, conduct and disseminate applied research, as well as helping to organise and run events to engage a larger number of residents, as the project develops .
Local guidance and advice has already been provided by Terry Zenith, who has opened restaurants, shops and businesses in the neighbouring Walton area. Terry outlined the importance of community engagement and ensuring social media was a big part of generating interest in the opening of new shops or businesses and wider development opportunities.
A two day high street audit has already compiled essential local business information and is being used to help shape the next steps of the project.
Dr Ana Porroche-Escudero, Senior Research Associate at CLARHC NWC, said: “This research approach is designed to support resilience in neighbourhoods. Community governance and its link with economic systems and the living environment are so important for reducing health inequalities generally.”
The initiative will inform wider research around improving public health and accelerate the translation of health research findings into actionable service improvements.
A Better Old Swan Facebook Group and Twitter account has been established to keep people informed about the project.
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