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The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

HomeGrownSO14: University to Resident Skills & Knowledge Exchange

Project Aim

To develop a university policy and scheme for the transfer of skills and knowledge from between the University to the SO14 community.

Why SO14?

We have an established project called ‘HomeGrownSO14’, which focuses on data driven community action and creative practice to co-produce healthy and sustainable neighbourhoods in the SO14 area. Our focus in SO14 are the areas of Northam, Newtown and St Mary’s. The SO14 area is deprived and one of the least healthy in the city (Southampton Open Data Observatory, 2019).

Contributing to realising the University’s Civic Strategic Plan

The University is developing a Civic Strategic Plan, which aims to develop partnerships with and become integrated in ‘place’. A Civic University is one that strives to improve the lives of the community it sits within, in a responsible way. Our initiative will contribute to several of the seven civic priorities: ‘Education, Learning and Future Jobs’; ‘Research and Innovation, Enterprise, Business and Economic Growth’; ‘Health and Wellbeing’; and ‘Social Justice and Equality’. We wish to capitalise on the University becoming a Civic University, by engaging university staff and SO14 residents as equal collaborators.

Addressing the cost-of-living crisis

With the pandemic contributing to further inequalities in education, training, skills and employment (Blundell et al., 2021), a skills exchange flowing from between the university into and the community could lead to increased social mobility and prosperity, enabling the promotion of equity, sustainable communities, breaking down of the digital divide, and extended enterprise. Some of the main factors contributing to inequality are access to work, education levels and perceived control over our lives (, 2022) and financial inequalities directly correlate with mental and physical health inequalities (Blundell et al., 2020).

Acknowledging and eliminating exclusionary research practices, structural racism and legacies of colonialism

LB has significantly contributed to a recent systematic review on attempts to diversifying health and genomic data, which revealed enduring issues of exclusionary research practices, structural racism and legacies of colonialism (Clinical Ethics, Law & Society (CELS) et al., 2022). This review highlighted the need to move away from helicopter research and tokenistic co-production; and we believe that a civic university model and policies like the one we are proposing in this project could go some way to making this move.


• Research similar initiatives – research other universities or institutions that have similar policies or schemes. 
• Staff survey – to gauge an interest in the scheme and an idea of the types of skills and knowledge on offer. 
• Community survey – to gain insight into the skill and knowledge they want and need. This needs careful consideration as the SO14 community are over consulted, therefore alternatives should be considered, such as, consulting with agencies that work in the local area. 
(N.B. Both surveys could also serve to explore barriers to participation i.e., finances, time, capability, access, training needs, cultural) 
• Guiding principles – create a set of principles that are kept in mind throughout the project. For example, be mindful of a ‘we know best’ attitude as residents are experts in their own lives and acknowledging epistemological differences in skills and knowledge between the university and the community. 
• Evaluation & efficacy – what are the measures of success and what incentives need to be considered? 
• Infrastructure – scope out the infrastructure needed to provide a skills and knowledge exchange scheme. 
• Policy – while not explicitly linked to public policy, we are looking to leverage the increase in staff involvement in local resident social impact projects to enhance the capacity of resident led projects to speak to local public policy concerns, particularly around housing, public health green space, and the cost-of-living crisis.


• Local economy – as skills and knowledge increase, we expect employability to as well, with a knock-on effect for the local economy. 
• Future students - the scheme may lead to the recruitment of future students from SO14 increasing the university’s representation of underserved populations. 
• Reduction in underserved groups – the more we, as an institution, engage and collaborate with underserved groups, the less they become underserved and more empowered. 
• Improvements in public health –  Approaches focusing on health and wellbeing, such as ours, which focus on the root causes of public health rather than pathogenic interventions, are proven to be more effective and cost-effective in the long term (WHO, 2018) 
• Contribute to EDI remit - by encouraging university staff to collaborate with members of a diverse community (diverse in terms of ancestry, gender, age, socioeconomic status, religion, culture, political beliefs) unconscious bias and discrimination may reduce (Pauker et al., 2017). 
• Staff development - opportunities for staff to enhance promotion and grant application opportunities.


• Reports – from the staff and resident surveys. 
• Scheme – the plans for a skills and knowledge exchange scheme informed by a set of guiding principles. 
• Policy – a university policy to guide the Civic University agenda towards increasing staff volunteering.

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG3 - Good Health and Well-Being;SDG4 - Quality Education;SDG10 - Reduced Inequalities ;SDG11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities;SDG1 - No Poverty;SDG16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institution;SDG17 - Partnerships For the Goals.

Project Members

Project Lead: Doctor Lisa Ballard
Pathik Pathak

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