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CONtributions of social NETworks to Community Thriving (CONNECT)

The CONtributions of social NETworks to Community Thriving (CONNECT) will use Participatory Action Research (PAR) to investigate social capital and networks as resources that benefit (or hinder) marginalised communities and their mental health and wellbeing. It will focus primarily on Black and other minoritised groups, with an intersectional focus accounting for gender, migration, socio-economic status, and more. Key components of the study include:

  1. Incorporating peer or community researchers as members of the research team
  2. Collecting and analysing primary qualitative data via interviews and community mapping workshops
  3. Developing relevant research questions and analysing secondary qualitative and quantitative data accordingly.

Knowledge will be co-produced and contribute to existing community initiatives.

This study will investigate and further understand the role that social networks and social capital have in promoting thriving and mental health for Black and other ethnically minoritised communities using a Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach.

We use the term ‘minoritised community’ to acknowledge that Black, racial, and ethnic minority groups and communities have been and continue to be structurally oppressed or marginalised by dominant groups. In this study and context, it refers to any group who does not identify as the dominant White British group. We recognise that this includes a wide range of experiences, perspectives, histories, cultures and complexity in relation to experiences of marginalisation and oppression. We highlight and respect those differences by focusing on Black racial, and ethnic minority groups, while taking an intersectional approach to explore intersecting identities that are also minoritised (e.g., migrants/ asylum seekers/ refugees; members of the LGBTQIA+ community; and persons with disabilities).


The study objectives are to:

  1. Explore how social networks and social capital act as a resource that promotes community thriving, and identify ways to amplify social connections, focusing on four priority areas: (a) community safety; (b) preventing violence against women and girls; (c) developing skills and employment; and (d) food security.
  2. Understand how social relationships, networks and their associated social capital generated by individuals and groups relate to mental health and place.
  3. Explore how processes of anticipated discrimination, social integration, ‘acculturation’, and becoming ‘othered’ as a minority creates or alleviates disadvantage.
  4. Map existing social capital embedded within social networks and how they are utilised at the community level (e.g., organizations; places), how individuals and groups utilise them, and how this relates to mental health.
  5. Analyse a relevant existing qualitative dataset (Welfare Conditionality Dataset 2015-17) to examine the narratives of welfare service users subject to conditionality to explore the role of formal and informal social networks in people’s trajectories into work, staying in work and leaving work, whether this is ‘quality work’, and links to mental health and well-being.
  6. Analyse relevant secondary UK quantitative datasets (e.g., South East London Community Health study (SELCoH), Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS), and Understanding Society) to explore related questions using local and national quantitative data. This includes examining how financial and other insecurities and adversities cluster in communities, and how they are associated with cross-sectional and longitudinal trajectories of mental health. 


Overall, this study will use a concurrent mixed-methods design, meaning that both qualitative and quantitative data will be analysed concurrently. It will utilize both primary (qualitative: semi-structured walking interviews and community mapping workshops) and secondary (quantitative and qualitative) data, while using a PAR approach overall. 

Project status: Ongoing

Principal Investigator