Research Project

Connecting the Community: Communication at the Heart of Greenstead

Principal Investigator
Professor Gina Yannitell Reinhardt
Photo of a large green tree with the branches spreading outward.

Connecting the Community

The communication at the heart of Greenstead project provides a space and opportunity for Greenstead community members to come together to discuss and document communication and engagement issues in Greenstead, Colchester.

Those who are connected and engaged in their community life are more likely to feel a sense of belonging to a community, more likely to engage in and contribute to their community, and less likely to be lonely and socially isolated. With these connections, people become more aware of the resources that exist in their community to help improve their health and well-being. They also begin to reap knock-on effects of connectedness, such as being more physically active, having friends who check on them regularly, and building confidence and satisfaction with life and trust in others.

We aim to understand
  • Communication channels
  • Engagement barries
  • knowledge and skills needed for effective engagement


This project provides an opportunity for Greenstead residents to work alongside the University of Essex researchers to gain a greater understanding of their community and the impact they can achieve with active engagement. It offers the opportunity for the community to come together and engage in learning and knowledge exchange activities and to strengthen community cohesion and community health and wellbeing. The project will enable residents to:

  • Get to know each other and build social networks.
  • Have a say regarding how internal and external organisations communicate with their community.
  • Build confidence and knowledge to actively shape their community’s voice and community life.


A survey co-produced with Greenstead residents was carried out between 4th August and 31st August 2023, and we distributed the survey online and in paper format. We are now in the process of analysing the data. Residents also participate in a series of 12 workshops to encourage engagement and connecting with each other. The survey was co-created with the residents through these workshops. This will enable the following pressing needs to be addressed:

  • Access to information – a need for insight into where the community members get their information and what type of information is available to them.
  • Methods of communication – a need for knowledge about the channels that organisations use to communicate their events and opportunities for the members to engage in community activities.
  • Confidence and knowledge to engage and become active members of the community – a need for greater engagement potentially linked to the information awareness and communication channels. Overall, we aim to provide a clear plan of how to demonstrate the power of co-production and community engagement to make the Greenstead community a better place.


The project is funded by NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board

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