Barbara Lights up Manchester Festival of Social Science with care and kindness at Eccles Library

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Our 2024 festival took place throughout October and November with 16 events taking place on and off campus, 10 of which responded to this year’s festival theme of Lifelong Wellbeing which ties in with our challenge led theme of Healthy Living in Salford’s Innovation Strategy. 935 people attended the festival in total comprising of the general public, university staff and our partners.

Our festival events covered a range of topics sharing research from our School of Health and Society and Salford Business school, these included; Wellbeing and Older Women at Work, The Power of Nature in Enhancing Wellbeing, Neurodiversity in the Criminal Justice System, Celebrating Communities of Kindness, Salford Photo Stories, and the Relationship between Gardening for Wellbeing and Asylum.

Our highlight event was Babara’s Parlour, a co production between Mark Croasdale Theatre and Salford’s Dementia Hub and Associates which brought pop up theatre and song to Eccles Library exploring themes of care and peoples’ relationships with dementia conditions.

“Having Barbara’s Parlour was really special for us at the library. We are here for the community and want to represent the communities diversity. We were grateful to be part of the Festival of Social Sciences this year and look forward to working together with Salford University going forward.” – Feedback from Eccles Library Staff

“I thought the message was great. Dementia isn’t talked about out in the open. Those actors were fabulous and really engaging, well done to everyone.” Audience Feedback

The opportunity the festival gave helped forge this new collaboration and there are already discussions ongoing about further shared working between the Library and Dementia Associates as well as continuing the work with theatre maker Mark Croasdale into a larger piece of collaborative coproduced research.

Indeed, partnership working was a feature of the festival, we received feedback from 10 non academic partners. 90% agreed or strongly agreed that the festival helped their organisation to build or improve an external relationship that will be useful to us in future, and 100% said they would be interested in partnering on a similar event in future. Both of which show that the activity was really valued by them.

90% of our audience who completed feedback said that they learned something new at the festival and 99% of people who fed back agreed they were glad they attended.

“I’ve loved this afternoon – it’s been great to meet people from local organisations in Salford and talk about different ways we can work together.” – Audience feedback from ‘Community Connectivity’ event

”Met new people, chatted over lunch, saw how others had coped with lockdown.” – Audience feedback from ‘Salford Photo Stories’

The festival was produced in partnership with University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University and funded by the ESRC. A partner evaluation meeting has taken place where we shared learning and approaches. Ideas for the 2024 festival have already been discussed with a closer focus on non-academic partner collaborations and cross discipline and cross school working being prioritised.