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I'm 21 and likely to be renting for years. So just what can we do about it?

Byline: Tony Henderson Environment Editor

RESEARCH into the future of housing in the region was on the agenda at a series of student-led events.

Student Elizabeth Johnston is one of a young generation who face the prospect of not being able to afford to buy their own homes.

"I think it's a dismal outlook. I may not be able to afford to buy a house and will probably have to rent for a long time," said Elizabeth, a 21-year-old geography student at Newcastle University.

Supported by funding from the university's research scholarship and expeditions programme, Elizabeth has investigated alternative community-style affordable housing projects in the North East, including the Glendale Gateway Trust in Wooler and the Stocksfield Community Association Trading Arm in Northumberland.

Elizabeth was among a line-up of students presenting their research at a public event at Newcastle University's Curtis Auditorium of the Herschel Building.

The scholarships support undergraduate students to work alongside researchers on summer vacation projects, while the expeditions scholarships give students the opportunity to undertake field research in other countries.

Since its launch in 2007, the scheme has become an important platform for students to showcase their research.

This year has seen significant growth in the number of successful applications for scholarships, with 114 projects, compared with 32 in 2007. In addition to the five presentations taking place there will also be posters from all participants on show.

Elizabeth has been looking at community-led housing, such as self and custom build schemes, co-operatives, shared equity, land trusts and co-housing.

She said: "As a result of the current housing crisis, there is a need to look for new ways to provide homes for people. Community-led development could offer an alternative, so it's exciting to see a groundswell of interest in communityled development community building across the North East."

The Glendale Gateway Trust currently owns and manages nine properties which are let at an affordable rate and the income then reinvested into the community.

To date, a community bond scheme launched in October 2013 to help fund new affordable homes for older people, has raised PS129,000.

People pay PS1,000 for a bond, highlighting the strength of support for a community-led approach, said Elizabeth.

"The success that these schemes are having shows that community-led development is not just a way to build housing that is better suited to the needs of the communities in which they're located, but can also help strengthen and widen participation among those same communities, whether it is increasing the vitality of the high street or building relationships between different age groups and interests," she said. She has also studied two co-housing initiatives - The Vibe on Teesside and Shack in Sunderland.

The co-housing concept is where a group of people decide to live together and will often build a larger house for communal activities such as eating or using shared washing machines, and living in smaller adjacent units.

Elizabeth will be joined by other students presenting their research at the event, including Naaem Adam and Emma Walshaw, both dental surgery students.

During an expedition to Brazil, they carried out research among people willing to pay for a high fluoride varnish as a clinically proven way to prevent tooth decay.

Laura Misch, studying communication and culture, will talk about the role of digital technologies in relation to the Gezi park protests in Istanbul during summer 2013.

Because of a lack of mainstream media coverage, social media played a key role in keeping people informed.

Lauren's talk drew on the experiences of activists and academics to discuss "citizen media" in the 21st Century.

Also taking part was Samuel Tingle from the school of medical education, who has studied the effect of anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and drugs prescribed for lowering blood pressure and whether they result in improved survival rates among patients with pancreatic cancer.

The work of Nadi Aung Myo, studying food and human nutrition, looks at the development of a type of bread which contains high alginate - a fat replacement - content as a convenient and affordable product weight management.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 20, 2014
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