Cardiff University: Children’s views to drive a better future for their community

Children living in one of Cardiff’s most diverse neighbourhoods are to have a say in how it could be improved.

The project is led by academics at Cardiff University and aims to improve the wellbeing of children and young people living in Grangetown – one of the communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A series of workshops is planned with children (aged eight-12) and young people (aged 12-17) in schools and in Grange Pavilion. Activities include an assessment of the local neighbourhood through the eyes of young people as well as the development of a recovery plan which meets the needs of children living there.

Project lead Dr Matluba Khan, based at the School of Geography and Planning, said: “The response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including social distancing measures, school closures and prohibition on outdoor activities, has further highlighted social and spatial inequalities, particularly for children and young people. Many have had limited access to outdoor spaces and resources such as the internet.

“The project, which also ties into the University’s civic mission, aims to improve the wellbeing of children and young people in Grangetown, empowering them to create a plan on how their community can recover and change for the better. We hope this initiative will give a much needed voice to those who often remain unheard in the process of design and urban planning.”

Academics Dr Tom Smith and Dr Neil Harris, also from the School of Geography and Planning and Dr Mhairi McVicar from the Welsh School of Architecture are also involved in the initiative.

Building on the success of the University’s flagship community engagement project, Community Gateway, the project also includes academics from the Welsh School of Architecture, as well as number of partners, including Grange Pavilion, Grange Pavilion Youth Forum and Grangetown Schools Advisory Panel, as well as the Child Friendly Cardiff Team at Cardiff Council.

The recovery plan and toolkit will inform Cardiff’s City Recovery and Renewal Strategy with insights on what children and young people need and envision for post-pandemic cities. It will also benefit and involve students completing a MA Urban Design at the University

It is hoped this pilot project could be rolled out to other neighbourhoods in the city as well as further afield.

Dr Khan added: “Evidence suggests that there will be long-term detrimental effects of the pandemic on the health and wellbeing of children and young people. We hope our work with the children of Grangetown will succeed in finding ways to reduce these harms and help partners create a built environment that is of benefit to even the youngest residents.”

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