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Working with our community in Bath and beyond

The steps we've taken to develop our civic role and partnerships in Bath and the wider region. Part of the Annual Report and Accounts 2020/21.

A view of the city of Bath.
Throughout the pandemic, it has been more important than ever for collaborations to rise to the challenge of finding solutions.

Respecting our local roots is as important to the University as growing our place in the world. We are committed to developing our civic role and partnerships in Bath and the wider region, to bring not only economic and social benefit to the local area, but also to share our knowledge and skills to contribute to its cultural, environmental and social richness.

Addressing our region's challenges

As communities in and around our City faced such difficult times through the pandemic it has been more important than ever for collaborations to rise to the challenge of finding solutions.

Our Shared Future is an initiative between the University and Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES) to bring together skills, knowledge and expertise to explore and address major challenges in Bath and the region, working with local organisations from the NHS and voluntary sector.

Discussions with B&NES led to an initial focus on a number of priority areas, including infrastructure and climate change. Funding from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) QR Strategic Priorities Fund enabled five projects to get underway.

Addressing B&NES’ Climate Emergency declaration, Dr Victoria Stephenson, from the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, is working with colleagues to engage with the Council and other stakeholders to investigate reducing energy usage in buildings across the region through community-led social and technical solutions to decarbonisation.

Energy use in buildings, largely through heating, accounts for 68% of the region’s carbon footprint, so decarbonising the heritage building stock is a priority for B&NES.

Improving the wellbeing of our community

Under the theme of cohesion and inclusivity, academics are evaluating the impact of Bath’s Community Wellbeing Hub, which integrates services from the Council, Virgin Care (for the NHS) and voluntary and community sectors for people in need of support and advice.

Researchers in the University’s Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences have interviewed service providers, service users and local councillors to understand more about how well the service is supporting people to live a healthier and fulfilled life, and providing help with employment, housing and income.

Improving access to green spaces

Plans are also underway for a project that will see Bath students and academics working with B&NES on its new 10km Bath River Line, to understand more about barriers to accessing green space for people from different communities and social demographics. This is one of five local Vertically Integrated Projects at the University that are a collaboration between staff and students, answering local sustainability questions on decarbonisation, transport and travel and biodiversity.

Other initiatives

Staff at the University are working with B&NES on a number of important projects spanning economic recovery from the pandemic, digital strategy, biodiversity and people’s access to nature, and children’s services.

Meanwhile, Bath students continue to support the wider community, notably through the action-group Bath Welcomes Refugees through which they have provided homework clubs and other initiatives.