Weston-super-Mare community network

Serious illness and bereavement affect us all, but our experiences of them are not equal. People living in the poorest areas of the UK are less likely to get the care and support they need if they become seriously ill or a loved one dies. They are also more likely to be socially isolated and lonely – which can be made even worse by serious illness or bereavement.

The Weston-super-Mare community network is a new collaborative research project led by the University of Bristol which aims to tackle these issues, focusing on Weston-super-Mare, a seaside town in the South West that is socioeconomically deprived but rich in terms of community assets.

Over nine months, the project will create a network which brings together, as equal participants, people with lived experience, health and social care providers, people providing community assets, including arts and culture initiatives, academics and public health experts. This network will work together to generate knowledge, commitment, capacity and outputs that will directly tackle inequity in end-of-life care and bereavement support and mitigate social isolation and loneliness.

We will be asking: How we can work together to tackle inequities? What creative approaches have the most impact in engaging, informing and supporting the local community? What datasets and methodologies can be used to describe and understand inequities in Weston-super-Mare and the wider region? What further research questions need to be answered, using which methods and data, to reduce in equities in this area?

Another focus of the project will be co-producing events and activities for Good Grief, Weston – a festival about death, dying, grief and loss taking place across the town in May 2023. Everyone in Weston-super-Mare and the surrounding area is welcome – we hope you will join us and be part of the festival!

Dr Lucy Selman

The network is led by Dr Lucy Selman, Associate Professor from the Centre for Academic Primary Care and Palliative and End of Life Care Research Group at the University of Bristol, Founding Director of Good Grief Festival and a resident of Weston-super-Mare.

Fiona Matthews

“We are delighted to be part of this work. We have learned from our longstanding creative partnerships in Weston’s communities that engagement with cultural activity can be transformative for individual and collective well-being, and helps to build resilience. This collaboration will shine a light on existing provision, and also enable new opportunities to be developed with and for those who are experiencing grief and serious illness – helping to keep people afloat when they are at their lowest ebb, and anchoring Weston communities over the longer term.”

Fiona Matthews

(Creative Director, Culture Weston)

The first project team meeting!


The project is funded primarily by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the second phase of the £26 million, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Mobilising Community Assets to Tackle Health Inequalities investment. This funding scheme investigates the role of community assets such as parks, galleries and creative organisations in improving health outcomes and aims to use existing local resources to create a fairer and healthier society.

This phase of the funding scheme has funded 16 projects to facilitate cross-partner collaboration, incorporating relevant non-academic partners, including community groups and health system organisations. Researchers will work closely with a range of community partners to ensure people’s lived experiences are at the heart of the programme.

These consortia will conduct new research and develop community asset hubs with the aim of coordinating large-scale projects for their communities as part of the final phase of the programme to be launched in 2023.