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Belonging in a community

Kelly Johnson (University of Bristol)
Rob Hopkins and Joe McGrath (Clare Inclusive Research Group, Ireland)

This paper is about belonging and community. Belonging is about relationships with others, about knowing a place and about having a history that you and others share.

Image of Joe McGrath from the Clare Inclusive Research Group, Ireland

In this paper we will explore how Joe McGrath feels that he belongs in his community, a small town in County Clare in Ireland. For some years Joe managed a coffee shop with a friend in the town with some support from the Brothers of Charity.

Joe was a member of a group that was doing inclusive research. He asked the group to help him find out what would make the coffee shop better for his customers. The group carried out a survey of people coming to the coffee shop and wrote a story of how Joe had become involved in managing it. Members of the group interviewed people who came to the coffee shop and sat and watched what happened there over a morning. They wrote up what they saw.

Image of Rob Hopkins from the Clare Inclusive Research Group, Ireland

The research supported Joe to make some changes to the coffee shop. It also showed how important it was in the town and how Joe's work had led to many relationships with different individuals and groups. In our paper we will talk about how important these were and what they meant to people who lived in the town. We will also talk about the importance of having a shared history in a place and how this can lead to change in the community.

Contact us

About the Group

If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:

Liz Tilley 
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
MK7 6AA

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