Skip to main content
Public Engagement

Current Large Grants

The Centre for Public Engagement awarded 6 projects as part of the 2023-2024 Large Grants. You can find out more about each project below:


Cultivating Land Justice: Developing an Anti-Racist Knowledge Exchange Programme

Elsa Noterman (School of Geography), Kim Graham (Shared Assets), Christabell Buchanan (Shared Assets/Communication Collective), Olive Ceesay (Seeding Reparations)

Unjust patterns of land access and ownership affect most people in the UK every day. They limit freedom of movement and a right to shelter and food, and hinder engagement with natural environments. People are coming together to pursue equal access to green space, adequate housing and land to grow food, localised solutions to climate change, and agency for those marginalised in our society, including racialised people, Travellers and those facing homelessness. A key theme in this grassroots organising is how to bring the lens of racial justice to issues of land access, use and ownership.  
This project will work in conjunction with an emergent land justice movement to amplify grassroots knowledge of effecting change and to collectively conceptualise ‘land justice’ practice. Through a model of action-oriented co-learning with members of relevant communities, we will develop open-source tools aimed at helping those interested in land justice to effect change through shared knowledge and practical tactics, in particular around land reparations. 

This project is centred on the participatory development of a public Land Justice Action Guidebook, which will act as scaffolding to bring together people working to change the land system. 


Designing Tower Hamlets’ Green Grid: how gender inclusive design can reshape urban green spaces 

Alison Blunt, Alistair Owens and Elsa Noterman (School of Geography), Jennie Savage and Anna Gibbs (London Borough Tower Hamlets)

The ‘Green Grid’ is a concept for planning policy focused on increasing green infrastructure - enhancing access to key destination green and blue areas and providing ecological corridors for wildlife. The aims of the Tower Hamlets Green Grid Strategy include safer pedestrian routes, enhancing access to open space, enhancing biodiversity, improving health and wellbeing, and improving access to water spaces. Gender inclusive design looks at the undercurrents and causes of gender inequality and considers how public spaces can articulate and value inclusivity and support systemic change.  

This project considers how gender inclusive design can enhance the development of green infrastructure and planning in Tower Hamlets. In collaboration with colleagues in the Place Directorate at Tower Hamlets Council, the project will engage with young women aged 16-30 who live, work and study in the borough about how they understand and use green/blue spaces on Tower Hamlets’ Green Grid, via workshops, participatory mapping and a design charrette. The project focuses on young women because they often feel excluded from public space and designed out of the city, with teenage girls in particular ‘largely excluded and excluding themselves from parks and green spaces because they don’t feel safe, included or welcome’. As the Make Space for Girls ParkWatch Report (2023) notes, ‘most parks have more facilities for dog waste than for teenage girls.’  

The project’s public engagement activities will underpin the development of a public Green Grid ‘kit’, designing scalable gender inclusive infrastructure for different areas across the borough. We will also work with participants and an artist to develop a visual identity for the Tower Hamlets Green Grid to enhance public recognition and encourage educational institutions, businesses and individuals to help cultivate and expand the Green Grid across the borough. 


Where Plants and People Meet

Giulia Carabelli (School of Politics and International Relations), Pat Healey (School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science), Matthew Beach (Student Union), Joanne Yao (SPIR), Elyssa Livergant (South London Botanical Institute)

‘Where Plants and People Meet’ is a programme of activities developed in collaboration with the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI), a community learning space focused on plants, people and civic participation in Tulse Hill where people of all ages and backgrounds are supported in exploring the natural environment and becoming more informed about biodiversity and the climate crisis. The SLBI has been operating off site for the last year due to major building works. Prior to that, it had limited opening due to COVID. This project will help relaunch the SLBI as a vital community research and learning hub focused on plants, people and participation. ‘Where Plants and People Meet’ is a creative and exciting programme of lectures and workshops on plants and their roles in worldmaking. Events are designed and led by QM academics working at the forefront of their disciplines and artist practice. The programme is designed for plant enthusiasts across London including the volunteers, members, nature practitioners and audiences of the South London Botanical Institute. This programme might also appeal to QM students offering extracurricular activities and improving their overall university experience.


Curatorial project: Dancing with Water – Women’s cinema from contemporary People’s Republic of China

Kiki Tianqi Yu (School of  Languages, Linguistics and Film)

In partnership with the Garden Cinema, Curzon Dochouse, Sine Screen, Queer East Festival, ‘Dancing with Water’ is a curatorial project that brings contemporary women’s cinema from People’s Republic of China (PRC) to the UK audience. It aims to enrich our understanding of feminism in non-western contexts by foregrounding a correlative worldview that highlights the hidden, the silent, the soft as transformative power of the femininity, yin, and celebrates the feminine ability to nourish, to pervade, to be in a lower accepting position, and to surpass the hard, just like water. At a time when feminism requests a critical re-evaluation facing overwhelming neo-liberalisation; when women filmmakers request more appreciation under the patriarchal structure of global film industry; and when debates on women become a rare platform for public engagement within the PRC with competing values, ‘Dancing with Water’ captures a burgeoning energy of fluidity, flexibility and resilience of Chinese women filmmakers. 


Running from February to April 2024, it includes screenings of 15 feature films and 9 shorts by 21 women filmmakers with expert introductions; interactive Q&As and director’s talks, as well as two panel discussions and a meditative workshop on Dao Yin where the audience’s participation will shape the debates and flow of meditation.  

Child Migrant Voices in Modern Britain 

Alastair Owens (School of Geography), Eithne Nightingale (Child Migrant Stories)

This project builds on and extends the Child Migrant Stories website, films, discussions and performances that won Queen Mary's Interact Public Engagement Award 2017. This drew on Dr Eithne Nightingale's PhD research at Queen Mary into the experiences of child migrants who came to East London from 1930s and included collaboration with Professor Alastair Owens. It coincides with the publication by Bloomsbury in February 2024 of Eithne’s Child Migrant Voices in Modern Britain: oral histories 1930s to the present day that highlights lived experiences of child migrants who have settled in Britain over a century.

 Written in partnership with those featured, the publication provides the opportunity to redesign and relaunch the website widen public engagement and increase impact by:   

  • updating life stories of those who migrated as children since initial interviews
  • integrating additional research of Syrian children in Scotland; Ukrainian children in Horsham, Sussex; Eritrean and others across Greater London.
  • connecting lived experiences of child migration with wider social and political contexts g. Brexit, the Windrush scandal, war and the Nationality and Borders Act 2022.
  • further promoting curriculum-linked learning resources for schools.

 The project will also co-produce a series of events across the UK with key partners and those featured in the book.

Meaningful participation in action-oriented research: the Black Men’s Health North London group project

Sara Paparini (Wolfson Institute of Population Health), Stafford Scott (Tottenham Rights)

This project aims to engage in research co-design with a community group of older men of Black Caribbean heritage living and working in North London, to prepare a research funding application and build further advocacy tools for the group. The group was formed after ten men (aged 60 or over) took part in a previous community engagement event held by the co-applicants, and is now keen to take on an even more active role in improving health services in their local areas (Haringey) to address health inequalities in their community The project is a collaboration between QMUL staff and the advocacy charity Tottenham Rights 


Black Caribbean communities suffer a disproportionate burden of health inequalities in all areas of medicine and public health. This is partly due to racism, which compounds other forms of discrimination and other social and economic inequalities. Many interventions to improve health fail to reach Black Caribbean communities, and Black Caribbean men in particular. This is partly because of a lack of effective involvement of community members in the development of plans for health care, research and public health. Also, Black community members are underrepresented in research institutions, with less power over how research evidence is produced. 


This project will offer training in research approaches to support the co-design of a large grant application for a participatory action research (PAR) project that can address areas of health inequality and burden of disease experienced by Black Caribbean communities. Also, the group will work together to co-design advocacy tools and develop a strategy for better engagement with local NHS and Integrated Care service providers to build bridges and improve health outcomes for the community in the specific areas of concern identified during this project.   


Back to top