Decentered Media is dedicated to providing support and advice to community and civic groups, businesses and public bodies. Our purpose is to inspire people to use media in the telling of their own stories and experiences, and to help more people to achieve authentic community-focussed communications, representation and engagement. We work with a number of projects and groups, some we support as paying clients, and others we offer informal project support.
Working with the Alan Turing Institute, and Professor Edward Cartwright of De Montfort University, we are training community reporters to explore experiences of Leicester as a Smart City. The aim of a smart city is to better connect people digitally, physically and socially, and to transform neighbourhoods into places that nurture inclusive and resilient communities. Using the community report model of engagement, this project tests how we can bring people and communities together from across Leicester, to inform policy, shape the delivery of the smart city, and explore how people might benefit from the opportunities that a smart city will provide.
Community reporting for over forty-years, the Evington Echo is a thriving example of local media that is embedded in its place and community. I’ve been helping to establish a secure foundation for the Echo to move forward for the next stage of its development, with support for the Echo’s website and advice about accountability and governance.
I have helped to develop and produce DIY media for the Y-Leicester Heritage project, that reflect and express the experience of the participants in the Y-Heritage project when they visited museums and cultural activities in Norfolk. The media we produced introduced a reflexive element to the experience of visiting a new place for the first time, and meeting new people. The participants demonstrated their listening skills, their creative storytelling skills, and their media capture, which helped to tell their story about what was meaningful to each as they explored places of cultural heritage.
A Germ’s Journey is a project based at De Montfort University, led by Professor Sarah Younie and Dr Katie Laird, which takes an interdisciplinary approach to social action communications, combining health, education, psychology and community media, and focusses on helping people to co-create the education and communication resources that they need to improve their public health awareness. Due to the current lockdown restrictions, however, much of this work cannot be done in person, so alternative forms of engagement, training and information distribution need to be explored. I am assisting A Germ’s Journey’s to innovate and collaborate by using of community media platforms and processes, which can bring people together from across the world, to engage in a conversation about the value of co-created and community-focussed communications that support public health.
Leicester Stories is a community-driven project, funded by the AHRC and UKRI with Professor Edward Cartwright of De Montfort University. Leicester Stories uses community media and community radio to inspire households from disenfranchised communities to engage with the census. Community radio is particularly effective at reaching audiences whose first language is not English, who may not read English well, who might mistrust government processes, and who may not engage with mainstream broadcasters or social media. Community media aims to foster trusted voices to make connections with people who are easily overlooked and who run the risk of being ‘lost voices’.
The University of Bath is coordinating a social-impact which is looking at the way research can be developed and supported using community media activities and processes. I’m providing evaluation and research development support at the pilot stage, with a view to expanding the project as the lessons are assessed and understood.
De Montfort University is taking a leading role in supporting public authorities, civic organisations and community groups to build back better in Leicester following the extended lockdown. I’m providing development support and research advice about how community media can be incorporated into the process, so that citizens are empowered and able to share their experiences of the lockdown.
I’m helping to devise and develop the Soundart future strategy. Based on a series of interviews and in-depth conversations, I’m helping to identify a future-focussed narrative that represents the station’s values, and asks how and who will support the plans that will turn them into action.
This is an ongoing project to develop a WordPress platform for a new network of academics, researchers, practitioners and policy developers in international field of criminal justice. Working with Professors David Ward and Robert Canton or De Montfort University, and Mr John Scott of Velia to support online seminars, podcasting, vlogging and establishing a social media presence for the network.
This was a project to develop a WordPress site that could facilitate a business directory, providing links and information about restorative justice organisation in the East Midlands. Working with Dr Anamaria Oprea of De Montfort University, the project had a short timescale to complete. The network needed to establish social media feeds and a YouTube channel in order to establish a network of practitioners and advocates.
I’m helping Leicester Community Radio with governance support and organisation development. As a community radio station run by volunteers I’m working to help develop the systems and policies that will allow the station to bid for additional funds, develop services and training that are relevant to the community needs of people living in Leicester.
Working with Soundart Radio to help develop the Every Child Has a Voice project, I have been providing evaluation support. Helping the project team to identify the indicators of effectiveness and mapping the emerging processes that encourage children to think in terms of sound and creative expression with radio.
In 2020, Ramadan Radio took on the challenge of broadcasting during the lockdown. This meant changing the approach to hosting programmes and training volunteers, most of which was moved to Zoom, so that presenters could stay at home while discussing topics relevant to the observance of Ramadan, and then broadcast in Leicester on FM, as well as on multiple formats online. I was happy to help with the planning, the Ofcom Broadcast Code training, and keeping presenters informed about the role of radio as a trusted source for information and discussion.
I’ve been helping to Radio2Funky to develop employability training for young people who aren’t in education or training, and who might be interested in using radio as a way to improve their creative and professional skills. The project aims to offer an introduction to being a community reporter, to understanding the role of radio, and working within the rules of the Ofcom Broadcast Code.
I have a long-standing relationship with the Documentary Media Centre, as the home for recording in-person podcasts, supporting training events and helping with project and development evaluation. John Coster and I have taught together in Thailand and Cambodia, and we’ve teamed-up on many occasions at events in Leicester. The Documentary Media Centre is an innovative, supportive and multi-functional, and provides learning and discovery opportunities for people of all ages and abilities.
In the summer of 2019 I was commissioned to write a report for Internews as part of the Transmit-Transform project, about the sustainability of community media in the United Kingdom. Working with Clare Cook of University of Central Lancashire, and Dr Jen Jones, the report identified the need to shift policy thinking about community media from media regulation to social value thinking within a social economy. The report sets out examples of how local community media can enhance well-being, civic deliberation and sustainable economies. Download the Report Here: When the Goal is Not to Scale.
From June 2014 to July 2019 I was a director and council member of the Community Media Association. Helping to promote the role and social purpose for community media in the United Kingdom, and to advocate on behalf of members with Ofcom, DCMS and other allied organisations. I was actively involved in ensuring the good governance and sustainability of the CMA, and promoting the annual conference, which I hosted twice at De Montfort University.
As a member of the ArtWorks Alliance oversight group, I provide advice and support for the development of the network’s communications. There is considerable synergy between a participative community media and participative arts. I am helping to support the development of the Alliance to help bridge the gap in understanding between the creative practitioners, producers and the communities that use them.