Spotlight on science in the community

In this edition Nick Powell, community engagement officer at Newcastle Science City, explains why the new collaboration projects are so important to this city of science.

It is often said that people make a city.

Regardless of a city’s buildings, businesses, infrastructure, sporting prowess or cultural offer it’s the local population and communities that bring a city to life, enabling it to thrive and evolve.  Involving, engaging and empowering Newcastle’s diverse communities is a core strand of work undertaken by Newcastle Science City (NSC) as it strives to achieve its vision “prosperity for all from science”.

To achieve this goal the Newcastle Science City community engagement project is an ambitious project that strives to raise awareness of, and engagement in, Newcastle based science related activities.  Co-ordinated by NSC, the project is delivered via a partnership approach, core project partners being Newcastle Council for Voluntary Services (NCVS), Centre West and Newcastle Futures.  Delivery of the project through not for profit organisations which have the knowledge, trust and access to Newcastle based charitable and community organisation has enabled engagement with residents is based upon a “bottom up” approach.  In turn, the utilisation of the existing network of charitable and community organisations has enabled the NSC community engagement project to work with residents experiencing some of the most serve social, financial and health inequalities.     

Through dialogue, consultation and shared decision making processes the project has co-developed and funded over 20 projects and developed 12 collaborations (between Newcastle based third sector organisations and science and research institutions, training and skills providers and private industry) that are utilising science to address a local need or take advantage of an existing opportunity.

The co-development of projects through this “bottom-up” approach has enabled the Newcastle Science City to gain insights into to residents’ aspirations, ambitions and reservations with regard to participating in science projects upon which opportunities and solutions are mutually identified and agreed. 

The experience and expertise of the community engagement project’s core partners has increased the capacity of many community organisations to apply for, manage and deliver grant funded projects for the first time.  Furthermore the project has facilitated innovative mutually beneficial partnerships between Newcastle based charitable organisations, science and research institutions, training and skills providers and private sector businesses upon which the project’s legacy can be built.

For more information on the project please visit:   http://www.newcastlecommunityscience.co.uk/