Whitley Researchers

Equipped with appropriate research methods and using their personal connections, local residents provide a voice for their own community.

The Whitley Researchers is a partnership between Whitley Community Development Association, local residents and the University of Reading. The programme involves local residents in conducting their own research, voicing their own needs and devising solutions to local issues. Locating knowledge generation at the community level and not just in an academic or policy domain enables communities to engage with and influence the process of change – which is essential for relevant and sustainable impact. You can read more about how the Whitley researchers came into being here.

Meet some of the team

The stories below were based on interviews conducted and written up by Marion Oveson

The Whitley Researchers team have seen quite some change over the years as its members add to their skills and confidence and in several cases have moved on to permanent or full time jobs. The current team includes Sonia, Naomi, Aneta, Liz and Sandra. Here are some further quotes from past and present members:

“The project gave me a boost as an individual which made me feel better about myself’”

“My boss has put more responsibility on me in my other job which I have embraced; before the project I would have said, “no I can’t do that!””

”Working together breaks down barriers and shows how we can help each other”

“Using this research obviously benefits the recipients but being a part of the process empowers us as residents – we feel as though the whole project belongs to us.”

“Every time I undertake a research project I thoroughly enjoy the experience and it makes me feel I have ‘come alive’. It feels great to be part of this researcher’s team.”

“I became a Whitley Researcher after I heard about the work they had done in conjunction with Reading Buses to provide a bus to the hospital. I was very excited when I saw how the Researchers were able to make a positive change and was keen to find out how I could get involved in finding out more about a community I have lived in for the past 10 years.”

Quotes from following an early excursion to the University of Reading:

“Children would love to see the campus at the University”

“I really enjoyed going into the University. It made me realise that I do want the best for my children. If University is available to them, I want do everything in my power to encourage them.

“The student presentations about how they got to University, and that they came from families like mine, was one of the most important moments for me. It made me think “that’s what I want for my children” and I now believe it’s possible. These students should come into primary schools and talk to parents…this could really change what local people think about Universities”

“The community is keen to build a relationship with the University”

“This partnership is a gateway to an exciting project and I cannot wait to see what comes of it”

“I will be so proud of the whole team if we can make a difference to people’s lives”

Feedback from local councillors on the project:

“The Whitley researchers are being commissioned by council services and other organisations to provide trusted and high quality research that is nevertheless embedded in the community.  It is a genuinely collaborative approach between the University and residents who would not normally interact with the University and combines the strengths of the two groups.”Rachel Eden, Local Councillor

“The work carried out by the Whitley Researchers and the Young Whitley Researchers has resulted in one of the most detailed studies of the south Reading community ever produced … I believe this impressive body of work will provide a firm foundation on which to build and enable the aspirations of young people, parents and the community of Whitley to become reality” – Sophia James, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Neighbourhoods and Communities