Growing up during neighbourhood change: The impacts of urban regeneration on the psychosocial health of young people in South East London

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Geography


This study will examine the effects of urban regeneration understood as a process of neighborhood change on two aspects of psychosocial health -common mental disorders (CMD) and wellbeing- of young people in South East London. Using mixed methods and participatory action research with young people as co-researchers to explore how they experience neighborhood transformation.

Mental health in young people is of concern, with half of lifetime mental health problems starting by age 14 (Smith et al, 2015b). CMD such as depression and anxiety have higher prevalence in urban environments (Hatch et al, 2011;). There is evidence on socio-economic determinants of psychosocial health showing that disadvantage over life course is linked to poor health. It is less clear whether aspects of physical and social environments at neighbourhood-level also affect the risk of CMD (Polling, 2014). In the UK, studies investigating the health and wellbeing impacts of regeneration are rare and offer mixed findings (Thomson et al, 2006; Smith et al, 2012; Huxley and Roger, 2006). These commonly exclude young people under the age of 16 (Smith et al, 2015a).

South East London has widespread regeneration programmes underway, higher eviction rates than the national average and 24.2% of the adult population reporting CMD (Lees and White, 2016; Hatch et al, 2011). The study will be supported by the South East London Community Health Study (SELCoH), providing local longitudinal quantitative data.

Methodology: The study will conduct a quantitative analysis using SELCoH data and undertake qualitative participatory action research. Participatory Action Research helps to introduce a flexible, collaborative and socially owned process (Kindon, Pain & Kesby, 2007) that will provide a platform for young people to voice their opinions on designing and managing sustainable neighbourhood change.

Aim 1a. To perform a critical review of literature related to urban regeneration and the influence of neighborhood spatial, built, environmental and social features on mental health and wellbeing;

Aim 1b. To examine national and local regeneration policies, plans, aims and features that shape and influence regeneration in South East London;

Aim 2. To investigate the relationship between neighborhood characteristics and CMD, and to examine how they vary by age and across areas; This will involve secondary data analysis on longitudinal data from SELCoH. The SELCoH study is an UK psychiatric and physical morbidity survey of 1698 adults, aged 16 years and over residing in 1075 randomly selected households in the boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth (2008-2010). Initial descriptive analyses will be performed, accounting for clustering by household. Multinomial and logistic regression models will be used to estimate the associations between neighbourhood characteristics and CMD and how they vary by age. Using full postcode data available for each household, analysis will use multilevel logistic regression models to account for hierarchical nature of the data.

Aim 3. To explore how young people perceive, negotiate and experience regeneration as a process of neighbourhood change and its impacts on their psychosocial health; 6 young people aged 16 - 18 will be recruited as co-researchers to design and deliver a participatory action research project over 12 months, participating in workshops, research methods training. 40 aged 14 - 18 will be recruited to participate in 4 group sessions delivered by the co-researchers. Co-researchers will collaborate in analysis and coding to identify key findings. Data will be analysed using discourse and content analysis methods and coded using emerging themes and sub-themes that relate to the research questions. A thematic framework will be developed, using existing theories and literature as a basis to analyse the data. Co-researchers will present their findings to participating organisations or community actors.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1917741 Studentship ES/P000703/1 01/10/2017 30/12/2021 Hana Shams Riazuddin
Description Peer research team and project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact 8 young people aged 16 - 18 have been recruited for a 3 month peer research project on urban regeneration and mental health. They were trained up in participatory and visual research methods, have worked as a group to conduct research and analyse data. They will produce an exhibition and present their findings to invited local policy makers in health and urban planning in March (26th March 2020). This has enabled young people to be a part of and co-produce research related to their lives more equitably. Meeting weekly, the group are supported and encouraged to develop research interests as well as creative methodologies to interrogate social issues they are passionate about, as well as develop broader employment and study skills (project management, team working etc).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description School visit/education programmme 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 2 x 6 week schools programme in Southwark and Lambeth, introducing children aged 14 - 17 research methods in health and raising awareness about related studies in our research group (including my PhD). Students were trained in research methods and then designed their own research studies over the programme. This encouraged engagement with research, local health studies and related social issues. A number of young people have gotten involved with on going activity with the HERON network and my PhD as a consequence.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Visual methods workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Workshop at King's College London on designing and developing co-productive research based on visual methods. This was catered to researchers (all levels) and postgraduate students who are currently working on or are interested in visual methodologies in social research. The workshop enabled participants to explore approaches and practically discuss how they might incorporate similar designs. Some researchers have continued to stay in touch, and a broader network is being developed to continue to support postgraduate researchers in particular.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019