Research Connecting Communities

08 February 2017

Jessica Watson looks at a film which set out to find out what difference social research has made to lives of people living in the East End of Glasgow.

In 2015 the GCPH moved to the Olympia Social Research Hub at Bridgeton Cross, shared with the University of Glasgow. Following our move, we wanted to explore how research into social issues has been used in our local area and what our neighbours’ experiences of research and researchers has been. Our aim was to start conversations about the role of the Hub, the GCPH and our research in our new home in the East End.

One way to explore these issues was to commission a film to initiate conversations about the role that social research has played in the East End. We were pleased to be working with Glasgow-based filmmaker Chris Leslie. Chris has done a fantastic job highlighting the connections between a diverse range of interview subjects tackling the question of 'what difference does social research make?’

The film tells the story of how social research can sit alongside other activities – whether providing the basis of a plan for developing a children’s adventure playground, or through carrying out an investigation in the community as part of a community development course.  

We also heard from our neighbours at Thriving Places Dalmarnock, Parkhead and Camlachie about how they used survey results as a starting point for conversations with community members to find out more about what people were interested in and where Thriving Places could offer help.

Working in a research organisation, we’re close to the detail of our research projects from start to finish: what are the research aims?  what are the findings? and crucially, how can the findings be used to bring about change? But this wasn’t the experience for many people featured in the film. Many said it was difficult to find out where their responses to a piece of research or a consultation had gone – and whether anything had changed as a result. This gave us food for thought about the ways research organisations are reporting back to participants and what we could be doing differently.

The film had its première in November at the Barras Social, which saw researchers from the University of Glasgow setting up shop next to stallholders for a day of activities, games and blether about all things social science, as part of the nationwide Festival of Social Science. It was great to have so many of the people who featured in the film in attendance to share their thoughts with the rest of the audience and instigate some fascinating discussions.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the film (you can watch it below) – and we’re also keen to explore different ways we can make the most of our location in the heart of Bridgeton and continue working with people and organisations across the East End and the city, so please email us if you’d like to meet up.

Thank you to everyone who agreed to appear in the film, everyone who came to the Barras to discuss it, and to Chris Leslie for his filmmaking expertise. We are grateful to the University of Glasgow Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration Account for its support.

Watch the film.


About the author

Jessica Watson Knowledge Exchange and Community Engagement Officer


Jessica is the Centre's Knowledge Exchange and Community Engagement Officer in a joint post with the College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow.

Jessica has a shared role, working on Community Engagement and Knowledge Exchange on behalf of the Olympia Social Research Hub, a joint office at Bridgeton Cross housing researchers from both organisations. 

Her academic background is in Medical Anthropology and she has previously held positions translating research into policy and practice both in and out of academia. 

Read all articles by Jessica Watson