Community Innovation in Practice Northern Ireland: October 2023

Áine Brady

In early October Prof Katy Shaw travelled to Belfast to visit Áine Brady, our Community Innovation Practitioner based in Belfast. Aine works with Queen’s University Belfast IAA and Queen’s Communities and Place (QCAP) as a Local Coordinator. Katy and Aine met members of the QCAP team and the Market Development Association on a community tour. Hosting a community summit at the Community Centre, they engaged key cross-sector stakeholders in the aims of the research and shared opportunities for communities to get invovled.

Áine draws on more than ten years of experience of working in local authority and third sector organisations to inform her project, and has lived and worked in the Market community throughout her life. Áine has been the Chairperson of the MDA since 2017 and is responsible for the strategic direction of the organisation and management of the staff team.

Her project considers how historical challenges related to the Troubles, deprivation and urban planning have contributed to the pervasiveness of substance use in the Market community in Belfast, and plans to use ‘photo-voice’, public exhibitions and a co-designed, community-led, drama-based intervention to empower communities and facilitate discussion around complex health issues.

You can watch Prof Katy Shaw discuss her experience in this short video prepared by QCAP:

Jim Donaghey

During a visit to Dr Jim Donaghey, our Community Innovation Practitioner based at Ulster University IAA, the programme director met members of the local practice community and academic IAA lead Prof Justin Magee. They spoke about Jim’s planned programme of work with the skateboarding community of Portrush, based on his experience with the third-sector partner CAUS (the Causeway Association of Urban Sports) and the wider Portrush skateboarding community.

Jim’s research will engaged in co-creation with the skateboard community in Portrush but also in Northern Ireland and wider Europe on themes of place and civic identity. Working with renowned videographer Slaine Browne and his archive of skateboarding films, Jim will work with local communities and cross-sector partners to re-imagine their creative practice and capture the value of sport to culture and identity in a post-Troubles context.

Our Community Innovation Practitioners are part of a cross-nation investment by the AHRC into co-created community research and action a recommendation from the AHRC Creative Communities report (2023). Follow our news and socials to see future CIP updates, or find more about their projects on their profile pages.


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