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The Innovation Zones team have been supporting the Greater Shankill Children and Young People Zone and their 20 year vision to transform the lives of those within the Shankill community, starting with a commitment to the children and young people.  Practically, this involves lifelong engagement (in the form of conversations) with children and young people to establish their goals and aspirations and to identify and provide wraparound support where necessary.  The process, protocol, guides, tools, resources, training mechanisms (for those significant adults holding the conversations with the children and young people) etc., for this process have been co-designed by the teams from CESI and the Shankill Children and Young People Zone.  Conversations with children and young people are on-going.  The findings from these conversations, as well as continually refining the process, will inform a child-centred, bottom up, outcomes framework for the community, which will inform service provision and community resource.

An in-depth PhD study, conducted by Mrs Eilise Sweeney and supervised by Ms Lesley Emerson and Dr Paul Best, is currently underway. This PhD study aims to explore the aspirations of the children and young people from the Shankill community, using participatory research methods.

To learn more about the Conversations project, please contact Dr Karen Orr, and to learn more about the PhD study, please contact Mrs Eilise Sweeney.

Please click here for an overview of Conversations





Currently, there is one key community-based participatory research intervention project that spans both the Colin and Shankill communities, that is, the ‘Crescendo’ project.  ‘Crescendo’ is inspired by ‘El Sistema’, a music education programme that boasts a range of benefits for the children involved and their wider communities.  Currently, the Innovation Zones team are working with the community leaders from the Colin and Shankill communities, as well as representatives from the Ulster Orchestra, on the development, implementation and evaluation of ‘Crescendo’, which is currently being delivered in four primary schools, two from each Innovation Zone.

An in-depth PhD study, conducted by Mr Conneth Poland and supervised by Dr Liam O'HareDr Jennifer Roberts and Professor Sarah Miller, is underway. The aim of this PhD research is to explore the theories of intervention and change that facilitate the pathways for three of Crescendo’s anticipated outcomes, i.e., musicality, self-regulation and a community outcome (parental engagement and community perception).

To learn more about Crescendo, please contact Dr Leeanne O'Hara, to learn more about the PhD study, please contact Conneth Poland.






Social Innovation Learning in Communities Course (SILC)

The Innovation Zones team is working with the Greater Shankill Children and Young People Zone and the Colin Neighbourhood Partnership to co-design a social innovation learning in communities (SILC) course.  Iterations of the course are being developed bespoke to each community with aims to:

Capacity build within the community on the foundations of evidence and social innovation;

Improve community practitioners’ and members of the community understanding of evidence and social innovation;

Provide the ability to reflect on how to design, implement, evaluate and apply social innovation in current and future professional lives.

The course is being developed with a number of core learning outcomes and assessment.  A ‘taster’ version of the course will be available for pilot early 2021.


To learn more about SILC please contact Dr Leeanne O’Hara or Dr Liam O’Hare (Innovation Zones Lead). This work has been funded by Urban Villages Initiative (The Executive Office).



Common Health Assets Project

The Common Health Assets project is a mixed methods, realist evaluation and economic appraisal of how community led organisations impact on the health and wellbeing of people living in deprived areas. 

The project is a collaboration between researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (led by Professor Rachel Baker), Bournemouth University, Glasgow Centre for Population Health, Queen's University Belfast and University of East London and community-led organisations in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland (Including the Colin Neighbourhood Partnership, one of QUB/CESI’s Innovation Zones).

The team includes experts on assets based approaches, health economics, social enterprise and realist approaches to research.  Methodologically the project is an exciting combination of qualitative methods, policy analysis, photovoice, Q methodology and economic evaluation. 

Dr Karen Galway and Dr Liam O’Hare will be managing the NI input, along with support from local CLO partners including Colin Neighbourhood Partnership (one of CESI’s Innovation Zones) and Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum(SPRING Social prescribing). 

This research is important because policy attention on community approaches to health and wellbeing has generally evolved faster than the evidence base. In order to ensure good policy, we need good evidence, developed through rigorous, theory-based studies. There is evidence starting to emerge that sustained positive health and social outcomes can only occur when people and communities have opportunities to manage their own futures, as well as having access to the skills and capabilities needed to do so. 

The importance of community – community spirit, mutual aid and support – was brought home to us all during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project will help focus attention on the importance of community to public health generally; especially important as we rebuild, and imagine, what may be required to cope with future crises. 

Follow our project updates on the web page on Twitter: @AssetsCommon  

For further information, please contact Dr Karen Galway