One Small Step in Research; One Giant Leap For Reading

One Small Step in Research; One Giant Leap For Reading

How one doctor, a minister, a youth worker and an interior designer form the unlikely team behind a new research report on Reading’s most deprived community.


On Thursday February 12th, Fusion Youth & Community UK will present their ‘Research Report into the needs of the Youth and Community of Whitley’ to the Mayor of Reading, at a launch event in Whitley.

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The Fusion Whitley Research Team

The research team behind the report are Dr Claire Bankole, Reverend Anika Parker, Skye Leon and Kim Anderson. Comprised of one Briton, two Aussies and an American, (most with extensive youth and community work credentials), they currently work for Fusion Y&C as full time volunteers.

While their decision to work voluntarily might surprise some, it was the decision to relocate the charity’s National base to Whitley that raised the most eyebrows.

“As we established ourselves here in South Reading,” said Miss Leon, “we were constantly meeting people who would ask ‘Why Whitley?’, as if we were masochists. It made me really want to know what was behind that attitude.”

In 2013 the leaders of some of Whitley’s churches invited Fusion Y&C to base their national office in Whitley, asking Fusion to assist them in strengthening their local community and youth work. Last year the invitation was accepted.

“Fusion has a policy that whenever we begin working in a new community one of the first things we do is a research project that will inform the objectives and strategies we adopt there,” said Dr Bankole. “The churches have been excited by this. We hope it will be a resource for them, and other service providers, as they make plans for the future.”

Local authorities have been impressed by the way the team has sought to engage with Whitley’s residents and service providers.

The team interviewed 32 different community leaders and service providers and ran two student workshops with students at John Madejski Academy and Reading Girls School.

Other data was gathered from community surveys, student surveys and the deciphering of statistics from the Office of National Statistics, Reading Borough Council and Public Health England.

The report will include findings and recommendations based on the communities perceived and real needs, current service provision and identified opportunities to better bridge the two.

“While it’s clear that South Reading suffers from social deprivation, there are strengths to celebrate and changes to advocate for, if we want to see this community’s aspirations and expectation’s in life raised.” said Miss Leon. “Our report is definitely a part of that process.”

The launch is open to all members of the public interested in finding out more about the current needs and opportunities for the youth and community of Whitley. It will also be an opportunity for local service providers and community members to network.

The event will run for one hour from 2pm at St Agnes Church, Northumberland Avenue. For those hoping to attend Fusion would appreciate being notified at office@fusionyac.org

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