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From Notebooks to Keep Fit


Over the weekend of 22 and 23 November we attended the second weekend workshop for the Future Histories programme. Under the heading ‘Consult’ we had a number of interesting presentations from academics and community partners about the benefits and pitfalls of working together.

As in previous sessions, the necessity of collaboration was promoted as essential to a successful outcome. We were given valuable advice from both parties such as getting to know the individuals and aims of our community partners; avoiding jargon; and maintaining regular communication through what should be a jointly planned and designed project. On this note, our team was grateful for the chance to work on our plan, to the extent that we were able to define individual tasks and deadlines over the next six months.


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The array of film clips from existing collaborations shown was particularly insightful. They indicated how perceptions about of a project differ, according to whether from the funding body, academic, or – I use this word with caution – the ‘subjects.’

It is about this last ill-advised phrase that I am finding this scheme so useful. As a history researcher my usual ‘subjects’ are separated from me by time and geography. Public engagement involves practicalities relating to the ‘now’ so requires efforts to build respect between all the parties involved.

It was important then, for me to spend a day with my community partner in their setting. The week following our training I visited the MC-UK team in action. As well as seeing where they work, I was able to experience their important community work. As we will elaborate on in February, one of MC-UK’s key areas of work is reducing social isolation. I attended their ‘Over 50s Ladies’ drop in session at Burnage Community Centre, so was able to talk with volunteers and the ‘aunties’ there. Some of these women had already collaborated on our ‘Bollywood in Burnage’ project. So, rather than hide behind my note book, I got stuck into the seated keep fit session, one which, I believe, would benefit desk obsessed academics everywhere.


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December 19th, 2014 - 13:16pm

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