Community Research

Community Matters continues to promote the importance of research into communities and their needs. Undertaking this research by trained local community members has proven to be tranformational not just for the individuals who have undertaken the community research training but also for local communities with vital information about their local neighbourhoods.


Southwest Foundation comissioned reports into the successes of the Community Researcher Program. To find out more about how the community researcher programme works the reports are available to interactively view or download below. 

Microsoft Word document [10.5 MB]
Community Researcher Report.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [587.1 KB]

Case Studies

In Torbay, Kath Snowdon was one of the first Community Researchers to receive our training; she now runs and chairs the Great Parks Community Centre in Paignton. 


For five years, South West Foundation delivered Community Researcher programmes. 


The Centre used to offer a range of programmes, from one day taster sessions to 8 weekly sessions which included undertaking a programme of action research.


"Through the course I picked up my confidence....I had never done a presentation before and I was quite scared....since then I have been asked to do a number of presentations and now I run a community centre...  I'll never give this up, they will have to take me out of here in a box!"  - Kath Sowden, Torbay Community Researcher


Oldmixon Parents Group


Oldmixon was the first group to undertake the training that was developed by the Southwest Foundation as the managing agency and the Evaluation Trust. The course was delivered in partnership with NS Housing who provided the venue and refreshments for the residents. The first course was delivered in a hotel near Sandy Bay, Weston Super Mare - this added to the course and made the participants feel "special". 


The small-scale research was decided upon by the whole group. They undertook this research around semi-structured interviews and a questionnaire. Having been trained in interview techniques, the group undertook research with the community in order to gauge what the real areas of concern in the community were. The findings of the research centred around the need for an information hub on the Oldmixon estate, the need for a pedestrian crossing near the shops and the proximity of a rehabilitation hostel near a child's play park. 


The presentation of the group's findings was attended by local councillors, representitives from the Housing Association, GSOW, members from the empowering communities partnership, local residents and council staff. The group were offered, on the spot, the opportunity to take over the management of an empty retail unit on the estate owned by the Housing Association. The Southwest Foundation organised for the group to visit a successful community shop in Swindon which generates around £45,000 annually. The shop used these funds to pay their running costs and did so by selling second hand items in the front and offering meeting facilities behind the scenes. Over 30 volunteers were involved in the collection, washing and preparation for sale of these items. 


Key to the success of the Oldmixon group was their determination as well as the support fromt he community development worker and also the opportunities given to them by the housing association. The community researcher training gave them the skills and confidence to take their plans forward knowing that they had the support from the community behind them. 

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© 2023, South West Community Matters CIO (Charity Number 1204297)