The Policy Scotland team is facilitating collaborative projects to connect University of Glasgow researchers with local and national responses to the COVID-19 emergency in Glasgow, in Scotland, the UK and internationally.

Glasgow Economic Recovery Group

The University has extensive contacts with Glasgow City Council in connection with the work of the Commission for Economic Growth, chaired by the Principal, which provides strategic advice to the Glasgow City Region City Deal and to the Regional Economic Partnership.

Professor Duncan Maclennan led work on a major report on futures for the city region and work on implementation of the recommendations will be taken forward as part of the post-COVID response. Commission members have been co-opted onto the Glasgow Economic Recovery Group (GERG) chaired by Glasgow Council leader Susan Aitken which is the main sounding board for the city in responding to the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Des McNulty is a member of the executive group of GERG and David Waite has been working closely with the Intelligence Hub in gathering and sifting data.

More Different Futures Network – UK, Canada, Australia

The purpose of the More Different Futures Network (MDFN), building on Shaping Futures, is to mobilise the housing policy relevant knowledge that exists, not just within research establishments (in academia, government and the private sector) but in the strategic and delivery operations of governments and providers, to provide urgently needed information, ideas and innovations to shape better and different housing outcomes.

Policy Scotland is working with academic colleagues at the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) at the University of Glasgow and Heriot Watt University; the newly emerging Canadian Centre for housing knowledge exchange at McMaster University; and leading research centres in Australia, the City Futures Research Centre at UNSW and at the University of Adelaide. That has been reinforced by key practitioners in Toronto, Vancouver, Glasgow and, particularly, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in Ottawa and the Community Housing Industry Association in Australia.

Since mid-May 2020 the network has held 10 bilateral meetings for 125 network members in Australia, Canada and the UK on topics ranging from homelessness to mortgage markets. The final summits and outputs from this activity will be produced in late summer.

International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI)

Policy Scotland and the Network for Social and Educational Equity (NSEE), led by Professor Chris Chapman, have convened a new ICSEI network is focusing on how educational systems respond to significant crises and how the crises impact on education systems, learning, health and wellbeing of practitioners, children, young people and their families.

Initial network activity will focus on the response to and impact of COVID-19. The role and purpose of the Crisis Response in Education Network is to stimulate research and curate knowledge, expertise and emerging practice around educational system responses to crises with the aim of mitigating educational inequity and promoting educational equity within these situations.

Given the current context, this network focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic with the expectation to support coordinate global responses that promote the effectiveness and improvement of learning, health and wellbeing of practitioners, children, young people and their families.

Reports of international responses to COVID-19 are published on the Policy Scotland website as the ICSEI – Voices from the field series.

Glasgow City Council – Community Empowerment and Equalities

Policy Scotland has established a framework agreement with Glasgow City Council Community Empowerment and Equalities (CES) team to support the city’s Social Recovery Taskforce. CES is represented on the Glasgow Challenge Child Poverty Partnership (GCCPP) and the Children’s Wellbeing and Mental Health Working Group which brings together HSCP / NHS and the third sector. It also co-funds the Children’s Neighbourhood Scotland programme with health colleagues.

Policy Scotland will lead the research working with researchers from the University of Glasgow’s College of Social Sciences and other academic partners for specific projects.

The initial focus is on these two questions:

  1. A review of the impact of COVID-19 on the third sector and in particular a review of the amount of emergency support provided across the city through Scottish Government funding: Has it reached those who need it most and what was the impact in the short term and in moving towards recovery?
  2. With prison numbers now down below 7,300 and falling, there could an opportunity to understand how COVID-19 has impacted on the justice spend across partners and collectively? In addition, what case there might be for this to influence how justice partners come out of the current arrangements with a more insightful understanding of the justice spend and efficiencies?

Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector

This project is focusing on improving the sustainability of Glasgow’s third sector, pivotal to community resilience, as organisations adapt, recover and transform from COVID-19, and will develop a cross-discipline hub for advice and technical assistance.

Led by Dr Paula Karlsson-Brown from the Adam Smith Business School and Sarah Weakley at Policy Scotland, The Collaborative builds on Dr Karlsson-Brown’s research in third sector risk management and Dr Weakley’s engagement with third sector organisations. It will also address other areas of sector need in collaboration with project partner Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector (GCVS) and a new network of Glasgow academics.

During the funding period (until December 2020) we will develop this academic and third sector network and training resources and deliver two workshops: building a model to continue beyond the funding period into semester 2 to integrate engagement with student coursework and internships.

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has convened a small group of voluntary sector leaders, funders and a representative from Scottish Government’s third sector unit in a Strategic Oversight Group, and Dr Sarah Weakley from Policy Scotland.

The overall aim of the group is to make sure that best use is being made of research and data on coronavirus (COVID-19) and the voluntary sector in Scotland, to support a resilient and sustainable sector. Initial work will involve mapping existing repositories of information, develop a plan for monitoring and synthesising the key research being collated and to come together to review the key findings, group this information, and identify knowledge gaps on how COVID is impacting the third sector in Scotland.

Glasgow City Council Neighbourhoods and Sustainability

As the lockdown is eased Glasgow City Council needs to consider what measures they should take to manage the road network to facilitate active travel and social distancing and allow the city economy to start recovery.

Issues include number of measures to increase pedestrian space in the city centre whilst social distancing restrictions inside shops may result in queuing outside. What measures can be taken that are likely to be most effective in preventing spread of disease and assisting economic recovery?

Glasgow Life

Work with Glasgow Life will look at building public health evidence around how culture, sport and community learning services could be delivered in partnership with the city’s Health & Social Care Partnership, or more widely within the health and social care setting, as non-medical interventions or support as part of large-scale health and wellbeing ‘recovery services’.

Other focus is to examine the evidence around audience attitudes towards contagion and social distancing/safety while watching live performance, visiting cultural attractions and/or attending other mass participation and event gatherings. This is also likely to be of interest to national organisations given the impact of social distancing on the viability of “face-to-face” activities.

Clyde Gateway

Clyde Gateway is looking to shape recovery from this emergency and recession is people and community-led; this will require radical changes in how investment in deprived areas is perceived – bringing major institutions into these places and funding economic infrastructure for example – and, at the same time, dealing with long term health conditions and skills investment to ensure local people are part of the change. As Scotland’s only designated green regeneration innovation district, Clyde Gateway wants to develop solutions that address the climate crisis, with people, community and place in the driving seat.

The work will focus on: 

  • support to accelerate the Clyde Gateway programme for addressing the health inequalities by working with a local community on options for health service redesign 
  • develop and extend a new model of social gain in deprived communities through capital expenditure, and replicate this as appropriate throughout Scotland
  • draw on research and development expertise to help secure a just response to climate change and COVID-19, via designation as the city’s green regeneration innovation district 

Scottish Government

Policy Scotland Director Chris Chapman sits on the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus (COVID 19): Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues, which is developing iterative operational guidance for providers of learning, childcare and children’s services.

He also contributes to the Educational Recovery Group’s workstream focusing on disadvantaged learners.

As part of this work Policy Scotland has produced several COVID-19 Policy and Practice Briefing Papers on the re-opening of schools in Denmark and Norway, and outdoor learning.

Welsh Government’s Academic Expert Group to advise on the development of their Educational Research Strategy and COVID-19 continuation of learning recovery plan.

COP26 and Glasgow City Council Sustainability

This COP26 project involves joint working between Policy Scotland and the new cross-college Centre for Sustainable Solutions in the lead-up to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, moved – due to COVID-19 – to November 2021.

The plan is to create three to four virtual dialogues – drawing on the successful More Different Futures Network model – which can link with preparations for a One-year-to-COP event in Glasgow in November 2020, and assist civic partners in mobilising ideas and activities around the zero carbon ambitions for the city. This will also link the University’s own sustainability activity with those of partners.

Get involved

If you feel you could contribute in those areas where we are already collaborating or if there are other topics you think might be of interest, please contact