Migration and demographic change in the North East of England

Submitting Institution

University of Sunderland

Unit of Assessment

Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Demography, Policy and Administration, Sociology

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Summary of the impact

This case study develops Kevin Hannam's work on mobility and social exclusion for the understanding of the impacts of demographic change on the local economy. The case study is based on a European funded project led by the University of Sunderland. The project has had a practical impact in the region with the development of innovative ways of influencing and addressing the employment and skills dimension of the over 50s and European migrants including Erasmus students. The case study focuses on two pilot projects addressing the employability and the quality of life of European migrants in the region.

Underpinning research

Mobility is a contemporary paradigm in the social sciences that explores the movement of people, ideas and things, as well as the broader social implications of those movements. The paradigm puts into question the territorial and sedentary precepts of twenty-century social sciences. Professor Hannam has led in the development of this paradigm, with a series of outputs in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2012. Hannam is editor of the Mobilities journal, which he originally developed following the Mobilities, Multiple Identities and Citizenship conference held at the University of Sunderland in November 2003.

This case study demonstrates the impact of Kevin Hannam's work on mobility and social exclusion for the understanding of the impacts of demographic change on the local economy with special attention to European migration. Mobilities cannot be described without paying attention to the necessary immobilities and social exclusion that are related to it. Analysing mobilities involves examining the consequences of this mobility for different people and places located in what we might call the fast and slow lanes of social life. The work of Hannam also calls attention to the interrelation between migration, return migration, tourism and Diaspora.

The case study presents the impact of a European funded project on "Changing People: Rising to the challenge of Demographic Change in the North East of England and Beyond" that ran between 2009 and 2012. The project was submitted under Priority 2 of the European Social Fund which focuses on Competitiveness and Employment. The University of Sunderland was the leading partner in the consortium which also included the North East Polish Community Organisation, the North East Strategic migration partnership, the charities Age UK and Mental Health Matters, the regional development agency One North East and the Local Authority Durham County Council.

Demographic change has been widely recognised as one of the most significant challenges facing Europe. The Changing People project responded to these challenges by developing, testing, and delivering new ways of addressing a range of interlinked employment and skills dimensions posed by demographic change. The case study relates mostly to the work package on migration and integration. As part of this package extensive research was undertaken into the work, leisure and travel experiences of the Polish migrations in the North East of England.

The Changing People's project led on to a further successful research application to the EU lifelong learning programme for which the University of Sunderland was the leading partner. The project "Mobility and Employability Research for Generation Erasmus" (MERGE) analyses the effects of the Erasmus programme on the mobility and employability of former students and identify which elements of the Erasmus experience may have the greatest impact upon career choices and opportunities. Following the departure of Kevin Hannam, the project has been transferred to another University.

Key Researchers:
(i) Kevin Hannam, Professor in Tourism, University of Sunderland 1996-2012

References to the research

Key outputs from the research described in the previous section are listed below with evidence about the quality of the research.

Diekmann, A. and Hannam, K. (2012) Touristic mobilities in India's slum spaces. Annals of Tourism Research, 39 (3), pp. 1315-1336.


Hannam, K.M. (2011) Mobilities and social exclusion. In: Scott McCabe, P.H., Minnaert, L. and Diekmann, A. eds. Social Tourism in Europe. Channel View Books.


Hannam, K.M. (2009) The end of tourism? Nomadology and the mobilities paradigm. In: Tribe, J. ed. Philosophical Issues in Tourism. Channel View Books.

Hannam, K, Sheller, M and Urry J (2006) Editorial: Mobilities, inmmoilities and moorings. Mobilities 1 (1) pp. 1-32


Research Projects:

Changing People Project: ESD ITM Number 09117NNE2. March 2009 to September 2011. Source: European Social Fund. Total Budget £560,000 [competitive grant]

MERGE Project: 518352-LLP-1-UK-ERASMUS-ESMO. October 2011 to September 2013. Source: EU Lifelong Learning Programme. Total Budget 309, 772 Euros. [competitive grant, peer review]

Details of the impact

The University of Sunderland led a strong dynamic and influential cross sector partnership on a European Social Fund project addressing the challenges that demographic change poses in the North East of England. The project had a clear impact in the region with the development of innovative ways of influencing and addressing the employment and skills dimension of the over 50s and European migrants, including Erasmus students. A total of 473 participants engaged in the project, 60% of these were over 50 years old and 30% from ethnic minorities.(UoS 2012c), p 2). The project has resulted in lasting change in the region. It made a difference, for example, in the way Durham County Council addresses employability challenges of over 50s (DCC 2012 p8). Lessons have been shared with other regions where mobility and migration are also important (UoS 2012b).

The Changing People project focused on five Strategic priorities: first, to identify effective methods for re-engaging older workers, second to develop and deliver innovative ways of training older workers and prolong their working lives, third to help employers to change workplace cultures and provide flexibility for older workers, fourth to explore methods by which older workers could be used to promote entrepreneurship and fifth to develop and pilot innovative ways of integrating migrant workers into the workforce to address employers' skills needs. As well as acting as a project lead partner the University of Sunderland coordinated Work Package five on migration and integration. The package considered how migration is affecting the North East and identified opportunities for harnessing the benefits from inward European migration

As part of Work Package five, research was undertaken into the work, leisure and travel experiences of Polish migrants in the North East of England, a community with 25.000 members (UoS & NEMP 2012, p9). The research developed two key ideas of Kevin Hannam's mobilities paradigm: the interrelation of different forms of mobility and the differential power geometries underpinning mobilities. The research identified a number of barriers which affected the employability and the quality of life of polish migrants, including the recognition of qualifications (UoS & NEMP 2012, p54). One of the key conclusions of the research was the need for a web based centralised resource of information, which was identified as a key demand of the community.

In response to these findings the "W" project was piloted in Spring 2011 (UoS & NEMP 2012). The project created an accessible online database storing relevant websites migrants may need. By clicking the W icon in a website, a new window opened that provided the user with a vast array of information relating to the North East. The W project was piloted on www.nemp.org.uk, the North East migration partnership and www.2b.nepco.org.uk, the North East polish community organisation (1). Between July and September 2011 the W searching mechanism was evaluated by means of a short online questionnaire. 79% of the respondents considered the database either useful or very useful. Participants were also given the opportunity to suggest improvements. They include better information on housing, Local Authorities and the 3rd Sector and the inclusion of new organisations (UoS & NEMP 2012, p61-3). The W searching mechanism has subsequently been improved and is now ready to be rolled out.

Retaining skilled migrants may provide a viable proposition for promoting economic growth. As part of work package five, various innovations were proposed for integrating European graduates that have studied in the North East. A mobile phone application was developed named EmployME (UoS 2012a) (2). The application was a pilot project designed for current and recent graduates to help them obtain employment. It was developed in summer 2011 by the web development team at the University of Sunderland. The app was greatly improved following a four months testing period. It consisted of three main elements, career opportunities and development, employability advice and networking. The application was positively evaluated through a series of focus groups and workshops involving students and employers (UoS 2012a, p15-21).

Much of the project activity was concentrated on bringing together the relevant stakeholders, developing a shared understanding of future directions and identifying a package of interventions that could be mainstreamed. Successful outcomes were presented at national and international events so that lessons could be shared (UoS 2012b). The list of presentations include the European Employment forum (UoS &NEMP 2011) and the launch of the million + report "Research that Matters" at a Parliamentary reception for MPs and Peers (3). A second project has been developed "Mobility and Employability Research for Generation Erasmus" (MERGE) that looks effects of the Erasmus program on mobility and employability.

Sources to corroborate the impact

The following reports related to Changing People project are available for consultation at


  • DCC (2012) ESF Demographic Change Evaluation Report.
  • UoS & NEMP (2011) Migration and Mobility: European Employment forum transnational exchange
  • UoS & NEMP (2012) The W project: An innovative information mechanism for European Workers in the North East of England.
  • UoS (2012a) EmployMeE app: evaluation report
  • UoS (2012b) Changing People: Raising to the Challenge of Demographic change in th e North East. Dissemination and mainstreaming
  • UoS (2012c) Project progress Report-1st Feburary 2012-31 May 2012

Other sources mentioned in the text

1) The EmployME application can be accessed at http://businessmobile.sunderland.ac.uk/home

2) Regional Partnership Manager, North East Strategic Migration Partnership http://www.nesmp.org.uk/

3) Information about the launch of the million + report can be found here