What's behind the data? Why data matters and what you can find behind the numbers

Vicky Ledwidge, integration and partnerships officer for the Communities up Close project

Being naturally inquisitive, I’ve always been interested in looking beyond stats and data to understand why rather that what. Figures and graphs are always useful, but it’s the human impact of numbers which, I believe, tell a richer story.

In the early days of the Communities up Close project, my predecessor visited local authorities across the region to gauge whether they would be interested in taking part in this research, and what they would hope to find. I picked up this work when I joined Migration Yorkshire, and once the 10 research sites had been selected, re-visited these particular local authorities to confirm their interest and start conversations about focus groups, interviews, and what they might do with the eventual findings.

A couple of things struck me during these visits. Firstly, and probably of least importance to the Communities up Close project, we live in a very beautiful part of the world. The train journeys took me through changing landscapes in all weathers, and I really should spend more time exploring Yorkshire and all it has to offer.

Secondly, in talking to colleagues in local authorities, it was useful to understand what they already knew about their localities and how the research would be useful further down the line in their planning. However, a handful were quite surprised that the data on migration and change in neighbourhoods had led us to focus in areas they weren’t expecting – which led me to wonder why? Is it because we naturally think we know things, instinctively, or through learned experience? Or is it because we just don’t know what we don’t know – and haven’t ever tried to find out more about these unknown unknowns?

By following the data, we wondered if we would uncover new communities, new challenges and new examples of best practice. Perhaps residents had self-organised to tackle challenges without leaning on statutory services – people just getting on to create solutions themselves? Or possibly we would find real need, which might lead to local authority led projects further down the line. We didn’t know, but what we uncovered is very interesting – you’ll have to read the Neighbourhood change and migration in Yorkshire and Humber report to find out more!


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Page last updated: 28/08/2020 07:16:29

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