General News

University of Brighton takes partnership approach to tackling loneliness

Besi Besemar February 28, 2019

Finding ways to tackle loneliness and the affordable housing crisis are two of seven new research projects being supported this year by the University of Brighton in partnership with community organisations.

Tackling loneliness, photo by Bruno Martins on Unsplash
Tackling loneliness, photo by Bruno Martins on Unsplash

THE University’s incubator initiative is designed to foster new community-university partnerships, as well as to help them “sustain themselves into the future for the benefit of the local area”. As part of the Ignite programme the partnerships will be given £4,000 seed funding to undertake new activities together for the benefit of the community.

The seven partnerships were chosen by an Advisory Group made up of members from local community organisations and the University.

Prof Tara Dean
Prof Tara Dean

Chair of the Group, Professor Tara Dean, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, said: “We had a lot of interest in the Ignite programme, both from our University researchers and community organisations, and it was significantly oversubscribed.

“However, this enabled us to choose seven outstanding new partnerships. These draw on the considerable experience of the community and the University to help identify and address important local issues – many of which will also offer insights that can be of benefit nationally and internationally.

“The Ignite programme also draws on the University’s 15 years’ experience of supporting partnerships via our Community University Partnership Programme (CUPP) which creates sustainable partnerships that benefit the local community and the University.

“The aim now is to develop a new generation of partnerships focused on some of the most significant issues facing our local communities whilst enhancing our teaching and research.”

One Ignite partnership is with the Hangleton and Knoll Project which supports community groups and works with local residents to set up new groups.

Joanna Martindale, its CEO, said:  “We know that people living on our estates, older people, and people whose activities are limited by health or disability are less likely than the rest of the city to engage in creative arts or events. 

“The partnership with Dr Helen Johnson (Senior Lecturer in the University’s School of Applied Social Sciences) and the University will enable us to train local people to become arts researchers and help understand what needs to be done to encourage broader arts access.

“This research, and the opportunity to take part in the Ignite programme, will be pivotal to informing the development of a neighbourhood arts steering group and a new city-wide community of practice aimed at increasing arts inclusivity and diversity and, crucially, directly impacting future commissioning of the arts.”

Another project ‘Microplastics in the Marine Environment’ is a partnership with Chichester Harbour Conservancy. Others: Moulsecoomb Community Research Project – Trust for Developing Communities; Housing Brighton – Brighton and Hove Community Land Trust; Health as a Social Movement – West Sussex Parent Carer Forum; Tackling Loneliness through co-creation in a Living Lab – The Bevy Community Pub; The clothes on our backs – Diversity Lewes.

The Ignite initiative will be delivered by CUPP and includes a series of shared learning event and mentoring support. It will also involve producing an online guide to community-university partnerships in collaboration with the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement. The initiative has attracted funding from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Dr Jenni Chambers, Head of UKRI’s Public Engagement Programmes, said: “We are delighted to have been able to support CUPP and the University of Brighton through our recent Strategic Support to Embedding Public Engagement with Research (SEEPER) funding programme. The innovative and inclusive approach to sustaining genuinely impactful collaborations between local communities, recognising their knowledge and experiences, and University researchers for mutual benefit is commended.  We anticipate that the Ignite programme will provide much useful learning for the HE sector as these seven exciting partnerships progress.”

For more information on Ignite, click here:

Or email: Dr Nicolette Fox, CUPP’s Development Manager at