A Glasgow Caledonian University psychology researcher is exploring the importance of creative spaces for reducing loneliness and improving social cohesion in Scottish communities.

PhD student Annamae Burrows (pictured), who is a member of the School of Health and Life Sciences’ Research Centre for Health (ReaCH) Substance Use Research Group, has been awarded a Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities funded internship.

She is working on the project with Creative Lives, a charity that works across the UK and Ireland to champion community and volunteer-led creativity in local communities, knowing the potential it has to improve physical and mental wellbeing, boost social connection, and promote inclusivity.

The charity works alongside local communities including local creative groups and artists, organisations, policymakers and funding agencies to promote and advocate for the importance of creative spaces and resources in communities.

Annamae said: “For my internship, I will be completing a piece of research on behalf of Creative Lives which will explore the importance of creative spaces for reducing loneliness and improving social cohesion in Scottish communities, in particular Lanarkshire, Dundee, and the Scottish Borders, but also exploring what it happening in other areas of the UK.

“This will tie in with the charity’s new ‘Creative Citizens’ programme, which sees them work in partnership with local authorities in communities facing economic and social challenges, to map the area’s creative groups and venues, and provide networking, training and funding.

“This should be a really exciting piece of work as I’ll have the opportunity to use creative research methods and have this be led by the voices and experiences of people living in the various local communities I’ll speak to.

“I think it will also link really well with my own PhD about young men’s experiences of male friendship as this is highlighting the importance of social spaces in communities for bringing people together to improve mental health, especially after the pandemic.”

Kelly Donaldson, Editor and Scotland Support Coordinator at Creative Lives, said: “Creative Lives has previously worked with two PhD students who came to us via the Scottish Graduate School of Arts & Humanities’ excellent funded internship programme, with great results. So, we’re delighted that Annamae will be joining us in April for three months to carry out valuable research into the importance of local, affordable, accessible venues for creative participation – but also the impact it can have on people and communities when those venues are closed or re-purposed.”