The quality of work, both paid and unpaid, is hugely important for the quality of our lives – after all, many of us spend more time at workplaces than with family and friends, and our material, social and cultural life depends to a great extent on what ‘we do for a living’.
The UWS-Oxfam Partnership conducted, with support from the University of Warwick’s Institute for Employment Research, research on ‘decent work’. This project reflects the raison d’être of the UWS-Oxfam Partnership in that it developed research contributing to ‘a more equitable and sustainable Scotland’. The objective of the project was to support and inform advocacy work around the policy objective of ‘decent work’. It did so by recording, documenting and analysing people’s opinions on what constitutes ‘decent work’ and by proposing what could be done to generate ‘more decent work’.
Between March and May 2016, researchers at UWS and Oxfam published four reports. The first report, published on the 9th of March, has a special focus on low paid workers in Scotland. Another three reports look at what employers think about the concept of ‘decent work’, at the obstacles which people with criminal convictions face when looking for ‘decent work’ and, finally, at the perceptions of young people of ‘decent work’. These reports were published on the 12th of May 2016.
On the 7th of September 2016 the final report ‘Decent Work for Scotland’s low-paid workers: a job to be done’ was published at a launch event at the Scottish Parliament. The report is accompanied by ‘Decent Work: a job to be done. The full labour market assessment’. This latter document presents the full detail of how Scotland performs against the factors which the research report identified as ‘making for decent work’. The launch was accompanied by articles in newspapers, campaign group blogs, magazines and academic outlets.
Chik Collins and John Connolly (UWS), Gerry McCartney (NHS), Mhairi Mackenzie (University of Glasgow) and Mick Doyle (Scottish Community Development Centre)
This project explored the impact on public health in two Ayrshire communities (Kilmarnock and Cumnock) of public service retrenchment and austerity policies, both in the 1980s and in the period since 2008. The project is linked to the problematic of the so-called ‘Scottish Effect’ in health – the excess mortality in Scotland as compared to the rest of Britain which is left ‘unexplained’ after accounting for deprivation. This study was conducted with the support of the UWS-Oxfam Partnership and involved researchers at UWS working in collaboration with Gerry McCartney from the Public Health Observatory at NHS Health Scotland, Mhairi MacKenzie from the University of Glasgow and Mick Doyle from the Scottish Community Development Centre.
Based on the above, the article and its findings haves featured prominently in The Herald and in Discover Society.
Report says deprivation has driven decades of failure for health promotion campaigns (The Herald, 2 April 2016),
Struck by the story of ex-miner, John (The Herald, 4 April 2016) and
POLICY BRIEFING: How politics and power create poor health – ‘I think they’re trying to kill folk aff’ (Discover Society, 5 April 2016)
This project, which emerged out of discussions with Oxfam’s community partner organisation Amina at the UWS-Oxfam Partnership launch event in October 2012, is a multi-phased exploration of the extent and nature of belief in spirit possession within the Muslim community in the East End of Glasgow, and of the possible impact this might have for access to mental health services. The project is particularly focused on examining whether such beliefs can act as a barrier to the uptake of appropriate health care for some Muslim women and thereby exacerbate health inequalities. A workshop for mental health professionals, designed to access the extent to which this was an issue known to practitioners, was held in June 2013. This was followed by a pilot focus group designed to explore the nature of beliefs about spirit possession and health, from the perspective of the women themselves. Preliminary findings were presented at a meeting of the MHO forum (Glasgow South). The next stage of the project is to run more focus groups through October to December. The study is being conducted with the support of the UWS-Oxfam Partnership, by researchers at the UWS, by members of Amina and Glasgow (South) Social Work Department.
This project examined the role played by one of Oxfam’s Community Partner Organisations in Glasgow – the Tea in the Pot (TITP) Women’s Drop-in Centre and Support Service in Govan. Through a series of focus groups and one-to-one interviews, the project drew extensively on the views of the women who use the services provided by TITP. Employing Ray Oldenburg’s concept of ‘third place’ the research considered the role of TITP in facilitating and fostering social support and (creating) a sense of community for members beyond the home and workplace. Oldenburg identifies the ideal typical third place as an accessible, social space, away from home and workplace that provides a sense of belonging and community for those who frequent it. He regards third places as the ‘anchors’ of community, encouraging social interaction and civic engagement, helping reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness and playing an important role in civil society. He argues that voluntary groups cannot be regarded as third places because they are not open frequently enough and are most often issue-based. This research found, however, that especially in areas of multiple deprivation and in the face of the retrenchment of public services, voluntary organisations are often the only social spaces open to those on fixed and the low incomes. Listening to the women’s own voices, it has become apparent that TITP meets the criteria of a ‘third place’. Through this collaboration, TITP has been supported in the design and production of promotional materials. Click here for the report; click here to find a book chapter, published in 2018, on the project.
Given the size of the co-operative movement and its economic importance, co-operatives are uniquely placed to undertake the difficult and complex task of melding the interests of business with those of the wider community. This project supported Oxfam’s work by exploring the impacts of the co-operative business model in Scotland, and particularly its non-economic impacts such as improving social justice, reducing inequality and addressing poverty. This research contributes to the debate on the relative merits of the co-operative approach by examining a number of different co-operative models and how they appear to interact with their communities. This project led to further research on credit union corporate governance structures and on regulatory change in the financial services industry. The co-operative project was supported by the UWS-Oxfam Partnership and was led by Steve Talbot and Geoff Whittam from UWS. Click here for the report.
Existing research had indicated that a multi-agency approach adopted in Motherwell over a decade ago seemed to have led to effective joint working, helping refugees with employment, housing and education. This project assessed the legacy of this policy to ‘settle’ refugees in North Lanarkshire, and examined what lessons could be learned. It was conducted with the support of the UWS-Oxfam Partnership, by researchers from UWS and in dialogue with North Lanarkshire Council. Click here for the report.