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  • Writer's pictureChristine Smith

​Strengthening Regional Infrastructure for Engagement

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) understands that some communities find it hard to get involved in health research. It wants to understand how to strengthen the infrastructure that supports community engagement. Humber and North Yorkshire (HNY) is home to people and communities with very poor health but is also the part of Yorkshire and Humber that has the least contact with health and social care researchers.

This collaboration between the HNY voluntary sector, the public and NIHR public involvement workers from the wider Yorkshire and Humber region aimed to start a new relationship between the NIHR and this underserved area, to begin to understand existing networks and to co-design a draft Framework for Community Engagement, that has the VCSE sector at its heart and closely links research with the new HNY Health and Care Partnership (HCP).

In focus groups, researchers, members of the public and communities and charity leaders discussed how they currently work with each other to undertake research and the problems they face. They talked about the engagement teams and networks that are already in place and how these might be ‘joined up’ by a regional Framework.

Participants described their challenges in engaging with communities about research but were enthusiastic about the possibilities and opportunities that a Framework might support, such as collaborations between regional academics, communities and partners within the HCP. An ambition for the region of high-quality research that includes community driven research questions and local evaluations of new ideas was discussed, with clear agreement that research must make a difference to communities and to health and care services in the region.

These focus groups were followed by a co-design event to agree working principles and to begin to understand what the Framework would look like in practice. The information from this event was used to write a draft Framework.

The next steps for this project are to continue to discuss the Framework ideas with the HCP and more research teams and VCSE groups in HNY. The Framework will need some funding to make it work, including people to build relationships with communities and to link communities with researchers. Finally the team will look for opportunities to put the Framework into practice, to test it and see if it will increase contact between researchers and underserved communities, and ‘join up’ and if it will improve the quality and usefulness of research in the region.

Read the full report here: 

Final report Learning from and strengthening regional infrastructure for involvement, enga
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