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'Labour of Love' : exploring community regeneration through Adopt A Station

Hamilton, Kathy and Alexander, Matthew (2012) 'Labour of Love' : exploring community regeneration through Adopt A Station. In: BSA Annual Conference, 2011-04-15.

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The aim of our study is to gain a better understanding of community involvement in the regeneration of social spaces. After a period of perceived community destruction and quests for individualisation, recent times have seen communities reborn with social ties reconnected through volunteering and altruistic behaviour. To explore this phenomenon we use the context of ‘Adopt A Station’, an initiative of First ScotRail who operate the rail network franchise in Scotland and allow community use of vacant accommodation at local stations. Over 100 stations in Scotland have been adopted by community groups including: schools, community councils and rotary clubs. Community involvement is varied and includes; gardening, restaurants, toy libraries, charity book shops, heritage centres, model railway clubs, and art galleries. Data collection, still on-going, has consisted of site visits to 19 adopted stations where we have conducted interviews with 40 adopters, First ScotRail staff and other relevant stakeholders. Interview data is supplemented with photographic and video evidence. Our findings will be presented around themes of: taking ownership of community spaces; community branding; the preservation of historical community assets, including initiatives to educate future generations and the role of place within the community. Our research has the potential to inform current policy dialogues, timely given the Government’s “Big Society” focus and offer theoretical contributions as to the role of community in society.