London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Centre for Housing and Community Research

The Centre for Housing and Community Research has been a self-funding research unit since 1989. Originally located at Staffordshire University, it moved to London Metropolitan University from August 1st 2003 to join the Cities Institute. The expertise within the Centre includes quantitative and qualitative research methods incorporating the use of self-completion questionnaire surveys (including postal), street surveys and semi-structured, in-depth and group interviews. The Director of the Centre, Dr Joan Smith, has extensive experience in running research teams in the field of homelessness, deprivation and children/young people and is committed to researching the experience of social exclusion and processes of inclusion of the marginalised and disadvantaged, and to giving a voice to that experience. She has recently completed an evaluation of Foyer provision for young people, comparing dispersed and single site foyers with floating-support schemes, ('Dispersed Foyers' at and led a research team in Herefordshire gathering user views of their homelessness services.

The Centre presents reports to funders in both closed and open forum. In 2002/3 for example, Dr Smith presented research findings in London, Birmingham, Derbyshire, the Cotswolds, Herefordshire, and Hertfordshire. She also presented findings of the Family Background and Taking Risks studies (along with the Birmingham and Cotswolds studies) to the European Network on Street Youth in Brussels at the European Parliament and in Granada.

All work by the Centre is undertaken within the ethical framework laid down by London Metropolitan University and with recognition of the Children Act (1989) and The Human Rights Act (1999), The Data Protection Act (1998) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (1989). All interview transcripts and data is stored and analysed on computers at the Centre for Housing and Community Research and not placed on the university main system. During 12 years of undertaking sensitive interviews there has been no breach of confidentiality.

Centre for Environmental and Social Studies in Ageing (CESSA) The many environments in which older people live - the built, the natural and organisational - have set the contexts for the centre's research since the 1980s. CESSA's research has concentrated on special settings such as residential homes, and the mechanisms that regulate and shape them. More recently new funding and methodological opportunities have allowed a more fine-grained concentration of the everyday lives of older people. This has made possible the exploration of ordinary, domestic settings in which most older people live out their lives. Recent collaborative research with colleagues at the Open University and UCL - with EPSRC and ESRC funding - has examined the significance of domestic and neighbourhood environments on the construction and maintenance of identity in later years. The importance of urban, cultivated and natural environments for older people has been brought into focus in CESSA's ESRC-funded research on the meaning and place of cemeteries for multi-cultural London families at the end of the 20th century. This research will be extended through another ESRC funded study of new ritual practices linked with new modes of disposal after death, the domestic setting and older people and their 'life qualities', with links to Cities projects on urban living and mixed-use.

Recent projects include the ESRC-funded Environments and Memory: Traditional cemeteries and new disposal trends; Cross-Cultural Use of Cemeteries and Burial Grounds Environment and Identity in Later Life: A Cross-setting Study, and European Dimensions of Changing Retirement: The Life Experiences of Older People Living Abroad with the European Science Foundation.


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