Equipment and technology at the Greenhouse
Nudge Community Builders is a Plymouth-based Community Benefit Society that aims to build a strong local community and economy. It was set up in 2017 by local residents living in one of the most socioeconomically deprived areas of the country: Stonehouse and Union Street. Their vision is to make Union Street a street the whole world loves again.
The organisation is working to revitalise these neighbourhoods through owning and creating community activities in disused urban spaces. It strengthens the local economy by investing in empty buildings along the street and provides the chance for community members to grow – equipping them with unique life skills, business knowledge and training opportunities.

Our relationship with the University of Plymouth has gone from strength to strength. The way they have come alongside us, joined in, shared resources and contributed to the change we are trying to make in our community has been really valuable. We have learnt a lot about how to work together and it's brought a really different exciting offer into the community that wasn't available before.

Hannah Sloggett, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Nudge
The Greenhouse at The Plot

Working in partnership

In 2019, the University partnered with Nudge Community Builders to open the Health Technology Community Pop-up based in the Plot in Stonehouse. The six-month collaboration aimed to address health inequalities and social deprivation by supporting business startups in digital technology and introducing eHealth solutions.
This work built on the University's eHealth Productivity and Innovation in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (EPIC) project to drive the development, evaluation and implementation of innovative technologies to transform health and social care. Nudge’s expertise in owning, co-creating and running community activities in disused urban spaces provided access to their community networks and use of The Plot for this project; a building that aims to bring new activity and opportunities to benefit the local Union Street community.
The University offered a breadth of interdisciplinary expertise from computing, nursing, design, robotics, medicine, engineering and architecture disciplines. Through this partnership, the team created the social health innovation centre, codesigned workshops and seed-funding events, launched digital social innovation projects, and established a volunteering timebank for staff and students.
Following on from the Health Technology Community popup, The Greenhouse project was set up by the School of Art, Design and Architecture, in partnership with Nudge Community Builders and other community-led organisations in Plymouth. The Greenhouse is based in The Plot and acts as a creative technology hub for local organisations and residents. It also provides technological and digital support through a neighbourhood-based drop-in centre. 
Through Nudge’s extensive trusting relationships in the community and access to innovative technologies and expertise from the University, the project provides the opportunity to invest in local people and their community. The Greenhouse is a place where those most in need can experience and play with technology in a way that supports them to learn how it could benefit them. It will give Nudge Community Builders a platform from which to develop a comprehensive urban renewal plan for Union Street – the Stonehouse Union bid.
In our role as a civic university, we strive to be catalysts for social change and to drive forward economic innovation to positively impact health within our communities. The Greenhouse project aims to make the University feel more accessible to the Stonehouse and Union Street community and support the development of local skills. In the long term, social enterprises and small businesses should benefit from the opportunities offered through The Greenhouse.

What's next?

Building on the success of The Greenhouse, which aims to provide local people with access to a great range of technology and expertise from which they can learn and work, this partnership will continue to thrive throughout 2023. Nudge Community Builders has been supported by the University’s Get Involved Awards to run a project to grow the impact of The Greenhouse. The project aims to identify how open-source/free-to-use technology can contribute to grassroots innovation in a sustainable way and foster an accessible and inclusive approach to digital skills in a disadvantaged community.
Working directly with residents of Stonehouse, Nudge will identify local needs and barriers to participation and test ways to increase this. As the lead researcher partner, Professor Katharine Willis will assist with training a community researcher and volunteer digital champions, organise focus groups with local residents, develop a research-informed evidence base and support codesign workshops run throughout the project.
Katharine will also produce the project evaluation, present opportunities for future funding and help the project be recognised at policy level. In the long term, the project aims to establish Stonehouse and Plymouth as a place where skills, diversity and inclusion allow for equal opportunities to access emerging digital creative technologies.
As part of FUTURES, Nudge Community Builders and Professor Katharine Willis will be hosting the Future Neighbourhoods hands-on workshop at the Plot. It will provide all citizens with the opportunity to explore how technology becomes a catalyst for building strong, sustainable, inclusive neighbourhoods.