Health, community and wellbeing research concept: person in wheelchair overlooking a sandy beach and the sea, three children holding hands in the distance.
With a widening life expectancy gap between different socioeconomic groups in the UK, the role of where people live in shaping their health and wellbeing becomes increasingly evident. This importance transcends access to basic amenities and services, encompassing broader aspects such as community support networks and opportunities for cultural enrichment. A sense of belonging to a particular place is essential for personal identity formation and provides stability for holistic wellbeing.

Health, community and wellbeing research insights

At Plymouth, the Health, community and wellbeing research theme examines the complex challenges faced by coastal communities. By actively involving local stakeholders we co-develop tailored interventions, address specific community needs and foster a sense of ownership and empowerment among the population. 
These approaches, including storytelling, oral history, as well as community-driven initiatives such as social prescribing endorsed by the NHS, facilitate the development of regional and national policies and interventions that respond effectively to the diverse realities and aspirations of communities, promoting inclusive and sustainable societal development.
Coastal communities deprivation, ruined building
Centre for Coastal Communities
Through the Centre for Coastal Communities, we bring together one of the few critical masses of academic researchers in any UK university with a proven track record on coastal communities and strong collaborative links with the public, private, and third sectors. Working with our partners, we are uniquely placed to coordinate problem identification and co-create solutions, committing to an area of research that traditionally has seen limited investigation of the problems.

Plymouth Perspectives on Place

coastal deprivation poverty

We need to talk about inequality and deprivation in coastal communities

Due to geographical isolation and underfunding, many coastal towns and communities struggle with economic deprivation, outdated infrastructure, poor healthcare, and limited opportunities. 
Professor Sheela Agarwal explores how effective policy responses should focus on inclusive development to revitalise these areas and harness their potential in tourism, renewable energy, and other sectors. With proper investment and research, seaside towns can overcome challenges and thrive again.

Academic theme lead

Professor Sheela Agarwal

Professor Agarwal is Associate Head of Plymouth Business School for Research and Innovation and Director of the Centre for Coastal Communities.
Throughout her career, Sheela has been investigating socio-economic aspects of the UK's seaside towns, focusing in particular on their economic performance and productivity, regeneration and spatial planning, economic linkages between the towns and their hinterlands, the nature and extent of multiple deprivation and social exclusion, in-migration and sense of community, and on aspects of health and quality of life. 
Professor Sheela Agarwal

Our researchers


Other themes in our place-based research

SHAPE disciplines address global challenges associated with marine, health and sustainability through the lens of place

Through five place-based research themes, we investigate the intricate relationships between communities, the natural world, and technology.
Locally, we co-create sustainable solutions to complex problems in order to build resilient and thriving neighbourhoods, cities, and regions. This work transcends geographical, social and political boundaries to become applicable on a global level.
Place-based research concept: crowd of people standing on a computer motherboard.
SHAPE – Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy