Our site work
We worked in three localities as ‘researchers in residence’ to understand the network of community assets and the enablers and barriers to developing and sustaining them. We took a different approach in each locality depending on existing activity and knowledge in the area, and time. In each locality we met with people working and supporting community assets and discussed some of the issues of health inequalities in each area.


There are a wide diversity of community projects taking place, from mental health support, kindness and non-judgemental listening in Gaia Coffee and Community Hub, including peer support through Girls Against Anxiety; social support and outdoor activities for mental health and wellbeing through Healthscape CIC; warm coat donations for homeless people in the Library and Hub; work with young people in alternative education with Sound Communities and a community café and hub – Crafty Fox – supporting people through companionship, creative activity and the combined determination of volunteers, a community builder, a housing association and, most recently, a social enterprise CIC.
We got a better understanding of the collaborative work taking place through Torbay Helpline and the work of community builders within Torbay Communities, including talking to people about the impact of being part of a walking group. And this doesn’t really even scratch the surface of things going on here.
We engaged with Sound Communities, a CIC, who work with marginalised young people through radio, music and creative media production to develop creativity, improve mental health, inspire confidence, raise aspirations, increase skills and foster agency. We commissioned them to develop a short creative piece, giving an opportunity for young people to express what it is like to live where they live; to describe the places, people and activities they reach out to for support, guidance and help; and to express what’s missing in the place where they live. This short film absolutely blew us away and speaks to the need to always find a way to bring youth voices into research through methods that provide a platform for their strengths and talent.


We started our work in Plymouth in the Stonehouse area, an area rich in local social enterprise and support initiatives. We found a wealth of creative thinking and approaches, including those of Leadworks who celebrate difference and connection; Exim Dance, who facilitate socially engaged dance wellbeing services and Nudge Community Builders working in Union Street to nudge lasting change, providing spaces for local people to grow and make connections, such as in the Plot, Clipper Café and Union Corner. We spent time with Plymouth City Council Community Builders, took part in networking, community consultation events and workshops with Belong in Plymouth, and got to understand better how community assets like community gardens (Melbourne Green) and street artworks can help to keep people healthy in an urban environment.
We quickly realised that there are a wide range of community assets working in the area of health inequalities and working closely with local residents to do so. We heard a recurring question: how do we better use, value and share the stories we collect to create long term systemic change? To discuss this question and the issues around it we organised an event called Creating Change Together.

South Brent

In South Brent we found a community with resilience and a growth mindset. We found a group of amazing people who work hard to keep their community connected and productive, to develop opportunities for healthy activity and find ways to help and look after each other. We found opportunities for creative activity, exercise, social connections, growing and sharing food, intergenerational activity, outdoor play and adventure and groups to combat loneliness. We found that, together, these initiatives, some well-established and others emerging, helped people with their physical and mental health, with a sense of belonging, and with access to healthcare. 
Our report aims to share some of our learning from our short time in South Brent. Much of what is here will not surprise those living in South Brent, however, we hope it will shine a light on some of the challenges of keeping healthy in a rural community, as well as some of the creative and innovative ways people in this local community are working together to address health inequalities.
We have:
  • developed local relationships, gained some understanding of the local contexts in three localities and begun to develop local partnerships with community assets in each place
  • identified community assets who are working in a collaborative way or have ambition to do so to understand the enablers and barriers of this way of working
  • worked in each locality in different ways to include conversations with local residents, exploration of how stories are valued and shared as important data; and considered some different creative methods of engagement.