Following the January update, Members of the local community who attended the University’s Public Information Event held on 15th June expressed interest in the progress of the ‘Our Shared future’ initiative.
I asked colleagues who are leading three of the projects for an update;
Dr Leda Blackwood and Ms Fran Baber - Understanding Food Insecurity in B&NES
Commissioned by Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES) Council, the University of Bath has conducted research examining food insecurity across the B&NES region.
Rising living costs, low wages and unstable jobs are driving food insecurity. The fresh, healthy, organic food which is most valued by community members, is also the most unaffordable. This image used above (from the UoB Images of Research) reflects the same product in contrasting forms. Freshly-picked carrots represent the food community members want – organic, locally grown, sustainable, and healthy. However, plastic-packaged carrots, transported for miles and subsequently reduced in price due to supermarket surplus, represent the only ‘affordable’ option for many. When people experience food insecurity, the empowering reward of growing and eating their own healthy food feels unachievable. Some have no choice but to ask for food from a welfare system that demands ‘proof’ of their desperation before providing help. This process feels humiliating and stigmatising. Our research will inform B&NES Council’s new ‘Food Equity Action Plan’, which aims to improve access to good, affordable food for everyone. We are also currently developing materials to engage with different audiences (e.g., policy makers, front-line support workers; people experiencing food insecurity; and community members). We have also applied for funding to focus specifically on older people. This is a group who are not accessing food support services, yet we know many will be struggling financially.
Dr Paul Shepherd - Digital twin work
The University of Bath has been working on a research project with The Roman Baths to create a “Digital Twin” infrastructure, a computer model for simulation and prediction that they can use as the basis for ongoing research collaboration in the field of evidence-based policy-making, a key goal of the “Our Shared Future” initiative. Thanks to financial support from Research England, the team have placed wireless sensors around the ancient monument and museum, which report things like temperature and humidity back to a central database and are correlating the readings against measures of how people move through the monument and museum. They hope to be able to use the data to help conserve and protect this historic monument and to improve the visitor experience, with the potential for other parts of Bath and North East Somerset Council to benefit from this research in the longer term.
A fuller update is expected in the next few weeks.
Dr Victoria Stephenson – Decarbonising BANES Housing Stock
Work continues on understanding the nature of the change required in B&NES in terms of retrofitting the existing building stock, in readiness for reducing carbon emissions in line with government carbon reduction targets.
The most recent exploration of the Energy Performance Certificate database has focussed on exploring routes to articulating inclusive models for supporting retrofit across all B&NES properties, and thus all resident contexts.
Cost modelling of retrofit options, along with updating of carbon saving models within new assessment procedures aligned with moves to low-carbon heating solutions, are being studied across the economic demographics that underpin the communities in B&NES, to better understand ask on local householders.
Dr Stephenson highlighted these two articles to illustrate the work that she and her team are working on.