Walking tour of Paisley with discussion of projects using PAR methods undertaken as part of Paisley’s UK Capital of Culture bid Alison McCandlish

This page outlines some of the main sites from the site visit held as part of the Participatory Action Research in the Field course (25th April 2018 at the School of Media, Culture and Society at the University of the West of Scotland as part of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences and Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities interdisciplinary doctoral student training programme).

Paisley 2021 at UWS Freshers Festival

The tour is an opportunity to meet with practitioners who use research in their work, and consider opportunities and ethical issues around the use of academic research (particularly PAR methods).

We will visit the STAR Project, location for PAR projects undertaken by session leader Alison McCandlish, and meet with Sharon McAulay (STAR project manager) to discuss how this organisation uses and values research and consider the opportunities, problems and benefits of using PAR in the field.

Star Project- Building safer, more connected and resilient families and communities since 1999. Passionate about all things Paisley!

We will visit locations relevant to the Paisley 2021 UK City of Culture bid, and meet with Stuart McMillan, Bid Manager for Paisley 2021 specialising in regeneration outcomes. Stuart will discuss how research was used in the Paisley 2021 bid, and there will be an opportunity for discussions on how PAR methods can be useful for a live project bid.

Images from the walking tour

Further reading:

  • Arnstein, S. R. (1969) A Ladder Of Citizen Participation. Journal of the American Institute of Planners. Vol.35 (4), pp.216–224.
  • Lee, D. and Gilmore, A. (2012) Mapping cultural assets and evaluating significance: theory, methodology and practice. Cultural Trends. Vol.21 (February 2015), pp.3–28.
  • Municipal Cultural Planning Incorporated (2010) Cultural resource Mapping : a guide for Municipalities [Online]. Available: http://www.ontariomcp.ca/toolkits/CulturalResourceMapping_digital.pdf.
  • PAS (2014) SP=EED, Successful Planning = Effective Engagement and Delivery [Online]. Available: https://www.pas.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/SPEED.pdf
  • Renfrewshire Council (2014) Paisley Town Centre Asset Strategy & Action Plan. Paisley: Renfrewshire Council.

Speaker biographies:

Alison McCandlish

Alison McCandlish is a PhD student in the School of Media, Culture and Society at UWS, having an academic background in Creative Media Practice, European Urban Conservation, Education and Town Planning. Her PhD concentrated on cultural asset mapping and creative ways of engaging communities with the Paisley 2021 UK City of Culture bid. As Educational Coordinator for the UWS led Digital Commonwealth Project, Alison managed the educational engagement aspects of this Scotland wide project, resulting in the publication of digital storytelling toolkits and delivery of schools projects across 57 schools, 23 Local Authorities with 585 participants. Alison runs an award winning freelance consultancy specialising in community engagement for arts and heritage projects and is a recognised Historic Environment Service Provider and a Chartered Town Planner. She has published in Leisure Studies and the journal of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (Context) and has a research profile featured on Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities Scottish Practice Research Network blog.

Sharon McAulay

Sharon McAulay is Project Manager at STAR Project - an award winning community organisation based in the North End of Paisley. With an academic background in Psychology and expertise in mental health, attachment and psychotherapy, Sharon has successfully led STAR Project to become one of the most innovative and exciting third sector organisations in Renfrewshire. In the last year alone the small STAR Project team has worked with over 500 of the most vulnerable and disengaged community members: Families where the children are looked after, individuals who are repeatedly benefit sanctioned, individuals who suffer/have suffered abuse and those living with long term poor mental health. The statistics paint a very bleak picture of need, deprivation and vulnerability in the North End and STAR Project’s impact is to be found in it’s unique relationship based approach, not meeting the needs of the community but meeting them in their need, providing a safe, accepting experience which provides a platform for change.

Applying her extensive experience of project development within an area of multiple deprivation and in-depth understanding of psychological safety, Sharon has co-authored an Interpersonal Framework which skillfully harnesses the therapeutic value of playfulness, acceptance, curiosity and empathy in a community setting. This informs the responsive approach practiced within STAR Project and applied in their work throughout the wider community. Sharon, a registered member of BACP, has a particular interest in what facilitates, or prevents, psychological safety, utilising art and culture therapeutically, combatting poverty related stigma and inequality, and celebrating the unique human-ness we each possess.

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan is the Bid Manager for Paisley 2021 specialising in regeneration outcomes.

Extract of cognitive mapping work on cultural asset mapping
Created By
Alison McCandlish


Photos by Alison McCandlish

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