Coldean lifelong learning

  • Johnson, Vicky (PI)
  • Andrews, Steve (CoI)
  • Hill, Joanna (CoI)
  • Parsons, Ben (CoI)

Project Details


Community-based participatory research helped to identify learning needs of older isolated people and their carers in Coldean, a suburb in the north-east of Brighton. The project received funding of £5,000 from the University of Brighton's Community University Partnership Programme (CUPP).

Planning and conducting research with students, community volunteers, older people and staff from the Trust for Developing Communities and the Education Research Centre at the University of Brighton meant that findings from the research informed local action plans to meet needs.

The focus of the project was on partnership between the University and the Coldean community. The process enabled the team to engage with isolated older people and outreach encouraged neighbourliness through conversation and increased understanding of their learning needs.

The project enabled links to be built with the Coldean community and provided volunteering opportunities for university staff and students, contributing to the sustainability of the project.

The project objectives were to:

> find out about older isolated people in Coldean and their lifelong learning needs and develop an action plan
> build a partnership between the university, the Trust for Developing Communities (TDC) and the Coldean community
> train staff, students and older people in participatory research
> provide opportunities for students to volunteer and gain experience in local community development
> find out how to overcome feelings of loneliness and isolation within the older people within the community.

The Coldean Lifelong Learning Team
Dr Vicky Johnson, Lead for Research and Trainer, Education Research Centre, University of Brighton
Steve Andrews, Local Project Coordinator, Trust for Developing Communities
Joanna Hill, Project Manager and Researcher, Trust for Developing Communities
Lin Donaldson, Resident Researcher
Derrick Neilson, Resident Researcher
Nadia Firoz, Student Researcher
Ben Parsons, University Researcher

Extended Team
Ben Afreh, Student Researcher
Gloria Clark, Resident Researcher
Robin Berry, Resident Researcher

The research was led by the Education Research Centre at the University of Brighton in collaboration with The Trust for Developing Communities in Brighton.

Local Service Providers and Groups
Coldean Community Cafe Youth Group
New Larchwood Activities Group St Mary Magdelene Church
Hanover Housing Association New Larchwood Surgery
Coldean Library The Bridge
Coldean Primary School Aldridge Academy
Coldean local shops and pharmacy Ixchel Therapies

Citywide Service Providers
Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC): Public Health, Age Friendly
City Programme, Housing, Personalised Transport Team
Brighton and Hove Library Service
Varndean College
Off the Ground

Key findings

Sense of place
Older men and women are proud of Coldean and want to have local learning spaces, but often need help to get there. Some want the excitement of getting out and about into town and the country.

Keeping lifelong learning relevant to older people’s lives
The research has shown that we need to continue to keep checking with older men and women what they want and how to deliver this. Life experience and location present different barriers and solutions that need to be taken into account in planning.

Isolation and interaction
Although some people are solitary and feel it is their choice not to be joiners, some want more informal communication and interaction in their lives. Even if people want to be alone for much of their time, they want some contact.

Understanding between generations
There was evidence from the research that older men and women could benefit from mentoring in computing and information technology from younger people and in turn they could share their understanding of the past and provide life histories. Younger people verified they would be interested.

The School of Education was keen to engage with community-based education programmes and the research enabled us to draw out learning to inform understanding of how to include older men and women in action research and highlight age-sensitive issues regarding participatory educational research on lifelong learning.

The project has achieved the following outcomes and recognition and in the longer term the Trust for Developing Communities will be monitoring impact in Coldean and more broadly across Brighton and Hove’s work with older people:

The research has directly informed bids from the Trust for Developing Communities to work with older people across Brighton and Hove.
The Trust for Developing Communities actions in 2013 informed by the research include: activities with the Older People’s Activity Group; setting up a pottery class in the Art Group; exploring ways of improving accessibility by buddying older people up with volunteers to get out and about; providing information on what’s on for older people in local newsletter and websites.

Improved links and partnership working between the Trust for Developing Communities and the ‘Active Student’ at the University of Brighton to get students volunteering in Coldean.

Poster presentation to the Community University Partnership Programme (CUPP) and involvement of community workers and older residents in University talks and seminars, and presentation of research at Education Research Centre seminars and the Trust for Developing Communities’s annual general meeting.
Links with the Age Friendly City Programme and the ‘Embrace’ volunteer working group who ran an Out and About event to explore inclusion of older people in activities across Brighton and Hove.
The findings have been presented to the local reference group of policy decision-makers including the local authority, library service and university. Evidence from the project has been used in bids made to fund local services for older people by the Trust for Developing Communities and by the local authority looking at the creation of an age-friendly city.

Beyond the research, ongoing opportunities to volunteer with older people’s groups, such as supporting research of the local history group and students’ placements at the New Larchwood location are being facilitated.
Effective start/end date1/05/1331/10/13


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