Leicester’s recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate emergency will be the focus of the innovative Local+ projects that aim to improve the lives of thousands living in the city.
Local+ is a joint initiative between De Montfort University and Leicester City Council that sees academics and researchers working with their local authority colleagues on projects that benefit the community.
Projects have now been agreed for the scheme’s second year with helping the communities of Leicester recover from the Covid-19 pandemic making up two of the five projects selected from a shortlist of 19 proposals.
Professor Bertha Ochieng, an expert in integrated health and social care, will lead a project looking at mental health and psychological resilience among Leicester’s communities as the city emerges from the longest lockdown in Britain.
She will be working with colleagues, students and the city’s Public Health Department in looking at the mental health of people during the pandemic and ensuing lockdown. The team will provide in-depth information from at-risk communities about their resilience and coping strategies, provide expert advice to practitioners on safer ways to engage with communities and develop an action plan on the city’s mental health post-Covid-19.
Dr Kennetta Hammond Perry, the director of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre, will lead the Other Track and Trace project looking at mitigating the effects of Covid-19 on pre-existing disparities in education in Leicester.
The project aims to measure the impact of the response to the pandemic within Leicester’s secondary schools over this year, monitor and evaluate the responses of schools, educators, parents/guardians and students to assess where Covid-19 impacts are most acutely felt, and develop recommendations that can be undertaken in collaboration with local schools to mitigate that impact.
Dr Andrew Reeves, an expert in energy and sustainable development, will work with the City Council to help guide actions to implement Leicester’s new Climate Emergency Strategy. There is also the Smart City initiative, which aims to improve people’s lives in Leicester by better use of digital technology.
The final project will be led by Associate Professor Neil Stacey and is an extension of his work with the local authority during the first year of the Local+ project on the regeneration of the Stocking Farm and Beaumont Leys estates in Leicester.
Work is being carried out to bring buildings back into use, improve levels of walking and cycle in areas designed in the 1970s with the car is mind and consulting with the communities on what they want to see happen.
The head of the Local+ project Professor David Mba, the university’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, added: “Local+ has proved invaluable to the city in bringing academic expertise to important projects benefiting thousands of people across Leicester, but it has also brought real-life experience of Leicester projects that is then going on to benefit our academics and students.
“The success was demonstrated by the fact we had a total of 19 projects on our shortlist this year and it was a tremendous difficult decision with the City Council to whittle that number down to just the five that are going ahead.”