Satellite tracking research to tackle poverty and deprivation

A novel international research project will use satellite tracking software and ‘walking interviews’ to map the benefits social enterprise has on disadvantaged communities.

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) is one of six universities collaborating on the £180,000 study funded by the Australian Research Council and led by Swinburne University in Melbourne.

The three-year study incorporates geographical information system (GIS) software to enable it to determine the community impact of social enterprises – businesses which trade for a social purpose.

Researchers will focus on the Australian cities of Bendigo, Victoria; Toowoomba, Queensland and Launceston, Tasmania, where more than a quarter of residents live in socio-economic disadvantage.

Walking interviews with people attending five social enterprises across the cities including a laundry and recycled computer enterprise will be tracked and documented, to identify significant locations.

The research team will also interview staff and volunteers at each social enterprise as well as key members of each community, from politicians and police to business representatives.

Professor Jane Farmer, Professor of Health & Social Innovation at Swinburne University, Australia, is leading the research group. She said: “This study is the first robust investigation in the world into how social enterprises realise wellbeing for disadvantaged individuals and build capacity in disadvantaged communities. Using GIS and walking interviews enable us to identifying where individual wellbeing and community capacity are being realised.”

Dr Michael Roy, Senior Lecturer at GCU’s Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, is an expert in the health and well-being impacts of social enterprise and will contextualise the data, which will be developed into a ‘wellbeing’ navigation app.

“I’m excited to be involved in a project which looks beyond the impact of social enterprises on individuals into the wider community,” said Dr Roy, a former Senior Policy Executive at the Scottish Government. “We have a world-class health service and public health research in Glasgow, and yet profound health inequalities persist.

“Social enterprises play a valuable role in addressing specific vulnerabilities at an individual level. But we think too that such action can have wider benefits on improving the communities in which people work and live. This new study will help us to understand those processes better.”

Social enterprise is a key focus for GCU researchers, who are currently leading a pioneering five-year study co-funded by the Medical Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council evaluating the potential of Scottish social enterprises as a public health intervention.

Published Papers

Yunus Centre staff member Professor Rachel Baker has recently had a number of articles accepted for publication, details below:

Journal Articles

Benedict Rumbold, Rachel Baker, Octavio Ferraz, Sarah Hawkes, Carleigh Krubiner, Peter Littlejohns, Ole Frithjof Norheim, Thomas Pegram, Annette Rid, Sridhar Venkatapuram, Alex Voorhoeve, Daniel Wang, Albert Weale, James Wilson, Alicia Ely Yamin, JD, Paul Hunt, PhD, (2017)  Universal Health Coverage, Priority Setting and the Human Right to Health. The Lancet (in press)

Christel Protiere, Rachel Baker ,Dominique Genre, Anthony Goncalves, Patrice Viens (2017) Marketing authorization procedures for advanced cancer drugs: exploring the views of patients, oncologists, healthcare decision makers and citizens in France Medical Decision Making (in press)

Sofie Wouters, Job van Exel, Rachel Baker, Werner Brower (2017) Priority to end of life treatments? Views of the public in the Netherlands Value in Health 20,1: 107–117

Research debated in the Scottish Parliament

Research that Geoff Whittam and colleagues from UWS and Heriot Watt was debated last month in the Scottish Parliament.

“Mr Kidd welcomes the recent report by the Jimmy Reid Foundation entitled ‘Trident and its Successor Programme‘ by Mike Danson, Karen Gilmore and Geoff Whittam.

The SNP MSP says that it makes a strong case for non-renewal of Trident based on employment diversification and the moral, philosophical, economic and defence case.

He says UK Government plans to continue at HMNB Faslane and Coulport is a threat to the majority of Scotland’s population.”

SIBs don’t work for complex problems because they’re unaccountable to service users

Dr Stephen Sinclair, Dr Michael J Roy and Dr Neil McHugh from Glasgow Caledonian University contributed to the fourth of the fortnightly articles on “SIB-financing NHS and public services”, the New Year debate on the roles Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) can play funding the NHS and public services.

SIBs are said to deliver better, more cost-effective public services by recruiting private investors who gain their returns by achieving pre-agreed outcomes. In January, UK Prime Minister Theresa May promised to fund improved mental health services through this mechanism.
The article from Dr Sinclair and colleagues, published on 1st March 2017, contends:  “ SIBs don’t work for complex problems because  they are unaccountable to service users.”

 Previous contributions to the PIRU debate include:

  1. Dr Alex Nicholls, Professor of Social Entrepreneurship, Oxford University: “SIBs may be overhyped but their focus on outcomes is a vital policy innovation.” Alex also recorded a short film blog of his presentation.
  2. Dr Julia Morley, LSE: “Ethics demand caution about marketising public services.”
  3. Professor Mildred Warner of Cornell University, one of the leading US experts on SIBs:  “The dream of Social Impact Bonds should not blind us to their dangers.” Mildred has also recorded a short film blog of her presentation.

The fifth contribution, on 16 March 2017, will come from Ben Jupp, a director at Social Finance and former Director of Public Services Strategy at the Cabinet Office.

If you miss any of the blogs, you can read them on PIRU’s website.

Those wishing to read, or comment on, the fortnightly contributions should email Alec Fraser at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine:

Congratulations to Dr. Clemmie Hill O’Connor on passing her PhD viva


Clementine’s work explored the experiences of women involved in Self Reliant Groups, an emerging phenomena in the UK, based on a model of economic and community development in India. Using an ethnographic approach she found that SRGs are important spaces in which women feel valued and confident. The key characteristics of the groups, productive activity and savings have given members a sense of purpose and control. This contrasts with the experiences of many of their day-to-day roles and interactions with the social security system. As single mothers and unpaid carers, their roles in society are not recognised by welfare to work policies that focus primarily on the duty of citizens to partake in paid work. In successive governments, political rhetoric has derided those who have chosen a so-called ‘lifestyle on benefits’ and pitted them against the hard workers of ‘alarm clock Britain’, whilst policy has placed high levels of conditionality and the threat of sanctions on those who do not, or cannot meet this ideal of a citizen-worker. Using citizenship theory as a conceptual and analytical lens SRGs’ activities can be understood as ways that women are enacting various forms of active citizenship.  Developing a continuum of active citizenship Clementine’s work offers an important contribution to understanding the variety of ways in which people perceive and practice their citizenship, and the potential challenges they face. 


Special Issue on “Rural Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurship”

Rural places share a set of challenges, including outmigration of young people, concentrations of older people, constrained economic opportunities, difficulties attracting specialist workers, low volume, but ongoing demand for health, social and transport services. At the same time it is suggested that social enterprise could help rural communities to respond to deal with social and economic challenges and become more resilient.  However, are social enterprises and collective action of social entrepreneurship an ideal solution for rural places?

It might be considered that rural areas represent a perfect nurturing ground for social enterprise and social entrepreneurship because of the existence of reciprocity, collective activity and generally those aspects which are associated with being part of a rural community. It could be surmised that social enterprise might therefore build on this extant solidarity. Conversely, however, there are a number of reasons why rural areas might be particularly difficult locations for developing social entrepreneurship. At an operational level such areas are challenged by isolation, lack of economy of scale, transport issues and staff recruitment and retention.

Although social enterprises and social entrepreneurship activities of the third sector organisations and communities are prevalent in rural areas, research evidence in relation to rural social entrepreneurship and rural social enterprise is scattered. Consequently, and as there is a lack of reliable good quality academic publications in this field, we propose to organise a special issue addressing the existing knowledge gap.

Working together with the Journal of Rural Studies, Dr Artur Steiner from the Yunus Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University, Prof Jane Farmer from LaTrobe University and Dr Gary Bosworth from Lincoln University invite to explore the highlighted issues through editing  a Special Issue on “Rural Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurship” . The special issue seeks to explore the significance of context when enacting social enterprise and social entrepreneurship in rural areas and focused on the following themes:

  • Examples of rural social enterprise best practice in establishment, operation, outcomes and impacts
  • Rural social enterprise as a response to public service retrenchment
  • Opportunities and challenges for social enterprises delivering rural services and/or producing goods for sale
  • Operating social enterprise within the realities of social and economic life in rural places
  • Social enterprise operations, functioning and governance in remote, rural and regional contexts
  • Social enterprises and their relationships with commercial businesses in rural places
  • Outcomes of rural social enterprises – e.g. resilience, capacity, wellbeing
  • Technology and rural social enterprise
  • Novel ways of measuring social enterprise impact in rural context
  • Communities and/or individuals as rural social entrepreneurs
  • Examples of rural social entrepreneurs – how they work, are motivated and how they navigate rural social, cultural and economic realities
  • Social entrepreneurship qualities and skills
  • Innovation and rural social entrepreneurship

Rural social enterprise and social entrepreneurship – Journal of Rural Studies call for papers (2)

For more information about the Special Issue on “Rural Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurship”, please contact Artur Steiner (

Medicine, Markets & Morals

MMM pic for news item

MMM is a three-seminar series sponsored by the Arts & Humanities Research Council and jointly organised by GCU and University of Liverpool. The main purpose of MMM was to bring together ethics and economics perspectives on the questions of: what types of health care system do we want to have; and how best to organise such systems.

Seminars have been held at the University of Birmingham, GCU and, in May 2016, at Liverpool’s London Campus. As in previous meetings, GCU researchers were prominent, with Cam Donaldson presenting on the need to recognise market failure in explaining why we have an NHS and Rachel Baker and Helen Mason presenting on their MRC-funded work on how to elicit societal values about what should count in health care priority setting and focussing on views of life-extending technologies for patients with terminal illnesses

Plans are underway to continue the MMM series, including an edited volume of proceedings. You can view the MMM website at: If you want to know more, please feel free to contact us here at the Yunus Centre ( or