Grass roots research

Post date 12 June 2017


Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley reflects on her experiences as a community researcher at Up Our Street. What does it mean to really take time to listen to people in a community?

"The first project completed by the research team here at Up Our Street, the Wellbeing in Easton and Lawrence Hill Report, has so far been met with extremely positive responses from the local community and service providers alike. Since then, I have no doubt that research can have immense impact on understanding communities, and it also has the potential to encourage and support change and growth within a locality. Before starting as a community researcher at Up Our Street, I was under the impression that research was reserved for scientists in lab coats pouring over petri dishes or academics in universities who are excited about hypotheses, theories and data. I had no idea that it could involve working with communities at grassroots level and doing more than the standard desk research.

While carrying out the Wellbeing in Easton and Lawrence Hill research, I quickly formed relationships with local people and it was from these interactions that I realised I wasn’t just doing research but I was building very important relationships with the residents around me. It was also when I realised that research is really fun! It then became a question of ‘how do we represent the community well, as a whole, but also with its nuances?’ This was a major responsibility, but chatting to residents and visiting community groups gave the perspective we needed to respectfully characterise life in Easton and Lawrence Hill.  And yes! This can be done through data and reports, but the most important part was getting out there and having those conversations with residents!

Many of our survey and interview participants were really happy that someone had taken the time out of their own day to hear their personal opinions. It isn’t every day that there’s a service provider, organisation or local MP stopping you whilst you’re out just to ask how things are. We found that people really appreciate when that happens.

Following on from the report, we would like to see what actions come from our work and we will continue toencourage groups working in the area to use it to address the community’s needs. Our research data and report are invaluable resources for anyone looking to improve the wellbeing of residents. So if you’re reading this and are looking to gain insight into the Easton and Lawrence Hill communities, if you want to find ways to make positive changes, don’t hesitate to get in contact with Up Our Street! We’d really love to hear from you.

Since wrapping the report we have started three new projects with different departments at the University of Bristol:

Our Widening Participation research has been tasked with unpicking the experiences of current and prospective BAME students when applying to the institution. We want to know what they are influenced by and how does this dictate the kinds of courses they choose to do in higher education.

With the University’s Urban ID project, we are looking at the vital green corridor that runs through the Easton Ward - the Bristol to Bath Railway Path. We will be compiling your thoughts, feelings and memories to understand how you relate to the path, any problems you have and what you use it for.

Meeting Points is a community research project exploring how neighbourly connections affect people’s wellbeing. We are interested in what difference knowing your neighbours can make to everyday life and how does ‘neighbourliness’ work on streets in Easton.

You’ll be hearing more from us as these projects develop but do get in contact if you’d like to share your experiences or find out the progress we have made so far."

If you’d like to get in touch with the research team feel free to email Community Researcher Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley at uos@eastonandlawrencehill.org.uk or Research Lead Zakiya Mckenzie at research@eastonandlawrencehill.org.uk. Speak to Zakiya directly on 0739 931 5959 or call our office on 0117 954 2834.

You can also download a full report of our Wellbeing research here: