After 2014: Glasgow’s legacy

With preparations for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow under way, researchers are beginning to evaluate the legacy the event will leave the communities on the doorstep of the main venues in the city’s East End.

As part of the Scottish Government’s programme to evaluate the impact of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and supported by NHS Health Scotland and sportscotland, a team at the University is investigating how regeneration in the East End influences the health and lifestyle of local residents.

A unique opportunity

The project uses the expertise of the GoWell research programme, a collaborative partnership between researchers from the University, the Glasgow Centre for Population Health and the Medical Research Council. Led by Ade Kearns, Glasgow Professor of Urban Studies, GoWell brings together experts in the social and health sciences to investigate if neighbourhood regeneration can bring a better quality of life to individuals.

Emirates Arena in Glasgow’s East End

According to Professor Kearns, the Commonwealth Games offers a unique opportunity to apply this multidisciplinary approach within the context of the kind of large-scale investment that doesn’t come along often: ‘We want to know where the East End sits within the spectrum of deprivation and disadvantage in the city and then over time if its relative position changes, given that it’s getting a lot of attention and investment, and not just in physical developments but in people-based programmes.’

Listening to communities

The core of the research is a three-part survey, which will observe how residents relate to their environment, how they feel about themselves, and their level of participation in sports and cultural activities. They will be asked questions about their circumstances, including pride of place, physical activity and health.

The first phase of this survey is now complete and the next two phases will take place in 2014 and 2016, to capture reaction during the Commonwealth Games and the related regeneration and then again when it is all over.

‘I’m hoping the study will enable us to say whether things have changed for people in the East End,’ says Professor Kearns, ‘whether their quality of life and their health and wellbeing is improved. We also want to be able to say by what means it improved and what things made a difference.’

Shaping the future

The research team will be continually in touch with the organisers of Glasgow 2014 and the policymakers and practitioners implementing the regeneration throughout the study to ensure that all output is shared at a time when it may influence their decisions. The findings will give planners insight into the success of the regeneration and will affect the direction of such initiatives in the future – in Scotland and beyond.

As well as being hopeful that the project will inform future policy, Professor Kearns is confident the study will provide a notable contribution to the field. ‘There have been a lot of studies in the past about impacts of multi-sporting events but they are mostly of host cities rather than of the communities nearest the main activities, so there aren’t many studies quite like this one.’

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