Following the launch of a unique community project in May 2011 by DeMontfort University’s Vice Chancellor Dominic Shellard, Harry has begun work on the Square Mile. The Square Mile is a project that aims to engage people with their local communities by providing programmes and schemes that they can get involved with.
Yesterday, Harry and other Associate Research Assistants were given a tour of the Square Mile by its Research Director, Dr Jason Wood. The tour was to give the ARAs an insight into the practicalities of the project and the area itself. Harry was taken to places in the mile where young people often congregate. This is in aid of future work, interviewing young people in the community.
Work on the project will continue, with Harry travelling to Leicester on the 9th and 17th of September, to be part of a team canvassing the opinions of local residents. Harry’s focus will be on the young people in various locations across the mile. He will ask them about their perception of the community, how safe they feel, and how able they are to use local services that are meant for them. Continuing with the University’s commitment to involving local young people in the project, Harry will also ask young people their opinions on the Square Mile project itself. The project would be ineffective if it were unwelcome with the local young community.
Harry commented: “What I was struck by was despite the high level of deprivation in some parts of the mile, there was a large amount of green space, that was going unused and so had potential to be developed. Also, there was evidence of regeneration that had already begun, for example, of a BMX park, influenced directly by the protest of local young people. When young people are involved, the decisions made are for their benefit, and by extension benefit the community. There are still questions to be asked about why people feel so detached from one another in an area so compact. I believe a lack of community breeds a culture of blame amongst residents. The positive approach of the university is a good sign that the project will be a success”