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EMPOWER · The Empowering Cities of Migration project

Funded by the ESRC (UK), FORMAS (Sweden) and FFG (Germany) respectively, the Empowering Cities of Migration project (EMPOWER) aims to empower local residents in three European cities (Birmingham, UK; Bochum, Germany; and Gothenburg, Sweden) to work with housing, migration and planning specialists on creating new approaches to housing and integration, and which help to avoid segregation and exclusion in diverse urban places.

The project responds to the call on Urban Migration, issued by the transnational Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) Urban Europe. This focuses on bringing together transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral communities of researchers and practitioners to create projects that align, synthesise or consolidate already existing knowledge on urban migration across disciplines on national and local levels. The overall intention is to facilitate knowledge transfer and learning from different European contexts, cities and countries to create greater engagement and understanding in migrant as well as host communities.

EMPOWER will create and train a new group of community-based researchers drawn from neighbourhoods in Birmingham (Smethwick), Bochum (Inner Hustadt and Uni Center) and Gothenburg (Bergsjön) - which have recently experienced considerable changes in their populations as a consequence of international migration. The aim is to develop a better understanding of the integration experiences and strategies of migrants in their own localities but through adopting a ‘whole community’ approach which considers the challenges and opportunities facing migrant and non-migrant communities. In addition, the EMPOWER project will facilitate better gender-aware knowledge for migrant integration by engaging migrant women in the process of shaping housing provision in their communities.


Project partners are as follows

  • Professor Simon Pemberton, Keele University (UK) - Overall project lead
  • Dr Lisa Goodson, University of Birmingham (UK) - UK partner
  • David Newall, Brushstrokes (UK) - UK partner
  • Professor Christiane Falge, University of Applied Sciences, Bochum (Germany) - Germany project lead
  • Friederike Müller, IFAK e.V. (Germany) - Germany partner
  • Associate Professor Gabriella Elgenius, University of Gothenburg (Sweden) - Swedish project lead
  • AnnSofie Olsson, Community Centre, Swedish Church - Swedish partner


The overall aim and objectives for EMPOWER are set out below:

Aim: To develop new methods of citizen empowerment and knowledge co-creation for gender-aware integration.

  • Objective 1: To recruit, upskill and empower Community Researchers (CRs) to engage with migrants and host communities in areas subject to increasing population diversity and to co-create new knowledge on the housing needs of hidden groups and communities.
  • Objective 2: Through a ‘whole community’ approach, develop participatory gender-aware insights into the housing challenges of relevance to migrant and host communities and in so doing address socio- spatial segregation and discrimination in the housing market in areas of population diversity.
  • Objective 3: To undertake wider stakeholder engagement and empower citizens to work with migration, housing and urban planning specialists to inform gender-aware housing strategies and policies which tackle problems of housing affordability, segregation and discrimination in areas of increasing population diversity.
  • Objective 4: To develop a gender-aware perspective of the impact of COVID-19 on socio-spatial integration and housing governance issues.
  • Objective 5: To establish a new Community of Practice (CoP) for migrant integration across different European cities.


Overall project lead: Professor Simon Pemberton (Keele University, UK)

Professor Simon Pemberton is a Professor of Human Geography at Keele University. His research has made internationally significant contributions in two very important areas: new migration and ‘super-diversity’; and the restructuring and rescaling of the state. To this end, he was the recent holder of a prestigious Leverhulme Fellowship exploring the residential mobility of new migrants. Furthermore, he was also the lead UK investigator in a £1 million NORFACE-funded project exploring health-seeking practices in super-diverse areas.

Simon has managed over forty large research projects from proposal to completion and has published over ninety peer-reviewed papers and reports. His work has also informed and significantly influenced the work of national and local governments, trade unions and local community partnerships.

Value and term

The total value of the EMPOWER project is 290,899 Euro. It runs between April 2021 and March 2022.

“The EMPOWER project - supported in the UK by the ESRC, FORMAS and FFG - brings together the research of academic researchers, NGOs and other key stakeholders in three different countries to work on citizen empowerment and integration activities. The emphasis will be on exploring the ways in which local resources – including the use of new and existing property, public spaces, transport systems and health, employment and education facilities - can be used or re-purposed to meet the needs of all citizens living in diverse areas”
(Professor Simon Pemberton, Project Lead, Keele University, UK)



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