N8 PRP’s new project manager, Helen Gordon-Smith, on the year so far and what’s ahead

As everyone has a breather over the Easter break, it seems like a moment to introduce myself as the new project manager for N8 PRP, look back on what’s happened so far, and take a look at what’s ahead for the partnership this year.

I took up this role in February after 4 years in a different faculty a Manchester. Leaving behind old colleagues and meeting new ones, all from my home office, was an odd experience – I was glad I already knew the university, and everyone was very welcoming, which helps a lot. It also made for a good start that the new funding model for the partnership had just been agreed, so I was going to be building things up rather than shutting them down!

With the new phase in mind, one of my ongoing jobs has been editing the N8 PRP website so it reflects the new structure and gives us a launch pad for new content. I’ve been really interested in the range and value of the research that happens under the auspices of the partnership, and it was great to be able to publish 4 of the 5 reports from the Master’s projects, part-funded by N8 PRP bursaries, that tackled child criminal exploitation, BAME representation, policing city-centre nightlife, and responses to lower-risk domestic violence cases.

We were also able to add a further Small Grant report on identifying sexual trafficking online – it’s great to be able to promote work I care about. The experiences of street-based sex workers in Manchester was the topic of my MA thesis, and I’ve volunteered and undertaken research at a number of drop-in centres for sex workers – including two years at MASH, Manchester Action on Street Health. Being able to work in this area again, promoting and enabling research that can improve understanding of and protection for vulnerable and stigmatised people, is really motivating, especially in the collaborative setting of N8 PRP.

The final MSc and Small Grant reports from 2019/20 are to follow shortly, and we’re looking at setting up webinars to discuss the findings of the 2019/20 Small Grants, so watch this space!

Before the new structure of the partnership launches in September, there’s still plenty of opportunities to make the most of the funding provided by partners for 2020/21. In February, the Steering Group agreed to fund 2 Knowledge Exchange Internships at West Yorkshire Police. The interns, working with Leeds University, will analyse communications with ‘hard to reach’ groups – more details will follow once the interns are recruited, and start work in the summer.

Next month sees the start of the flagship event in the N8 PRP, the Innovation Forum. In 2021, the event will be wholly online and take place over three days, considering the theme of partnerships – how to make them effective, and how they can work in the fields of cybercrime and public health. They promise to be interesting and constructive discussions, with views from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, US academia, fraud prevention, and forensic psychology. Registration is open now for members of partner institutions, and will open to all-comers from 14th April. See you there!

 

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