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A digital platform for markets as community hubs

Dr Sara Gonzalez

School of Geography, Faculty of Environment

Relevant ESRC Discipline:  Human Geography, Public Engagement

This funding will create a new digital engagement platform to contribute to public debate over the future of traditional retail markets.  It will provide best practice examples, research expertise and resources for groups and organisations involved in operating or collaborating with these markets.  There are over 1,000 traditional markets in the UK, mostly operated by local authorities which find themselves under increased pressure due to austerity cuts and the decline of the high street. My research has evidenced that these markets generate particular social, economic and cultural value to low income and minoritised groups providing fresh and affordable food as well as a welcoming and inclusive space.

The proposed platform will communicate in a clear and visually engaging fashion our vision for markets as community hubs for inclusive and sustainable local economies. It will present, for example, powerful data visualisation from our 1,500 market user survey which policy makers or market traders can readily use when advocating more investment in markets.  There will also be a section with best practice collected from around the UK with engaging visuals and links, drawn from our interviews with over 20 experts.  This platform will be the base to interact with key stakeholders and the public in general, through our social media presence and other public engagement activities that we are regularly involved with.