The Bartlett


Parallel lives

Two pilot projects are building a picture of prosperity for residents of East London.

Akbar Khan, one of the citizens scientists working with the London Prosperity Board.

The London Prosperity Board, a JP Morgan-funded coalition launched by the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP) last year, has two pilot projects underway across five sites in East London: Hackney Wick, Canning Town, Bromley-by-Bow, Stratford and Heath ward in Barking and Dagenham. The aim of both projects – managed by IGP’s Saffron Woodcraft and led by IGP Director Professor Henrietta Moore – is to gather data from people living there: what does prosperity mean to them and how prosperous do they actually feel? 

The first pilot has been looking at barriers to achieving prosperity. “For example, while lots of indicators suggest that prosperity in Hackney is improving, many people who live in the community aren’t enjoying those rising living standards: in some cases, people are living parallel lives,” explains Hannah Sender, Project Manager at IGP. 

The second pilot is focused on measuring the levels of prosperity neighbourhoods are offering on an institutional level and whether local people are able to take advantage of them. In both cases, researchers are concentrating on small sites within areas in order to record hyperlocal experiences of prosperity. “A lot of the existing data is at borough or ward level,” says Sender. “It’s not deep enough to give us an understanding of how prosperous people actually feel they are.” 

To achieve this, the London Prosperity Board is working with “citizen scientists” to carry out in-depth interviews with residents across the five communities. “Our researchers are paid above the London Living Wage and get training in qualitative research methods, ethics and data responsibilities, as well as data analysis,” says Sender. “The qualitative data gives context to the survey data – also collected as part of the projects – and highlights inconsistencies between the numbers and people’s experiences.” 

The findings will be published in 2018. The aspiration is also to create a UCL-accredited programme for working with citizen scientists.