November update: new starts and carrying on

On the left a photo of a red and green brick building in Manchester dramatically lit against a mixed sunny and cloudy sky; on the right a close-up of the plaque on the building which reads "Beswick Co-operative Society Ltd, built A.D. 1912"

On the left a photo of a red and green brick building in Manchester dramatically lit against a mixed sunny and cloudy sky; on the right a close-up of the plaque on the building which reads “Beswick Co-operative Society Ltd, built A.D. 1912”

So it has been even longer since I posted anything here than it was until the last time, when I started my post with “Apologies for the longer-than-intended absence…” This has, again, largely been because I’ve had a lot going on – most of it more good than bad, but a lot of it quite unexpected.

The first big piece of news is that I have now moved from Leeds to Manchester. I’m still (until February) a Visiting Researcher at the University of Leeds, but I moved in October because I received a housing offer that I couldn’t refuse – after approximately 5 years on the waiting list, I am now a member of New Longsight Housing Co-op (not a shared house co-op, but a big one with flats and houses scattered around a local area, so I have my “own” flat within the co-op)!

The offer came at a point when I was just beginning to seriously worry about how I was going to keep paying the rent on my flat in Leeds, with the paid period of my research ended (I’m now nearly 3 months into a 6-month unpaid extension) and the cost of living crisis escalating, so also considering that I have wanted to be a member of a housing co-op for as long as I have known/understood what a housing co-op was (so probably getting on for 20 years!), it really was a move I absolutely had to make. But it still felt like a difficult decision for a number of reasons including my #actuallyautistic difficulty dealing with any life change and fear of losing the post-Covid recovery of social connections that I managed to build up in the last year in Leeds.

It has also been quite disruptive to my research – it has been a bit over a month since I moved into this flat, and I feel like I have only just started to really get back into it. This has put a bit of doubt about whether I am actually going to be able to organise the conference/networking event for and about disabled people and co-ops that I talked about in my last post, but I am still trying to make it happen – any offers of assistance are very welcome!

The other big piece of news is also going to have an effect – I am also about to start a job working in the Disabled People’s Archive project run by Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People and based at Manchester Central Library. This is going to be 21 hours a week until the end of February, while I have this research to finish, and then will become full-time from March. Accepting this job was also a difficult decision and it is going to impact on the amount of time that I have left to finish my research – but it is also going to be a much-needed regular income given that I have used up my 12 months of research funding, and the income I could get through transcription work for TypeOlogy is by definition fluctuating and uncertain (an experience of precarity shared by many, perhaps especially disabled, members of workers’ co-ops, which I will certainly write about in my research report/publications!)

The job is fixed-term until October 2024, so it definitely doesn’t mean that I will be moving away from focusing on co-ops forever. I’m still thinking of applying for further postdoctoral grant funding to pursue this research topic further eventually, and I certainly still want to work on bringing various disabled-people-centred co-op ideas into existence in the long term, during and after this job.

I’ve just submitted an abstract to the Nordic Network on Disability Research (NNDR) conference in Iceland in May 2023. I’m not sure at this point whether I will actually be able to *go* to the NNDR conference, particularly as I will no longer be affiliated with a university or have access to a conference expenses budget by then, but it at least gives me something to structure writing around. I’m also hoping to present at the rescheduled UK Society for Co-op Studies conference in Lincoln in February (which will be *just* before my university status ends).

Hopefully I’ll be posting about more research outcomes (presentations/publications/etc) soon!

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