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CRN West of England publishes reflections and learning from community engagement projects

The Clinical Research Network West of England (CRN WE) has published a report that shares reflections and recommendations from a series of innovative community engagement projects that were delivered from December 2022 until April 2023.

During this time the CRN WE worked in partnership with 5 community organisations: Diamond’s Social Community Hub, Healthwatch Swindon, Inclusion Gloucestershire, The Ardagh Community Trust and Voscur. Led by the organisations, they designed projects based on their expertise and cultures, aiming to start conversations in the community about research and build sustainable relationships.

The report details the process that was taken, reflections and learning from the experience, as well as themes that were identified as benefits and barriers to participating in research. It also outlines a series of key considerations that the CRN, health and care organisations and community organisations should bear in mind when collaborating. These include investing in long-term partnerships with trusted organisations and to prioritise addressing the power imbalance.

Tamsin Pearce, Community Engagement Officer at the CRN WE said, “It’s been fantastic to work with the community organisations on this project over the last year. We’ve been blown away by the energy and enthusiasm that they’ve all brought, without them this work would not have been possible. I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the organisations for all their brilliant work.

“Looking ahead, we will continue to work with these organisations, as well as expand our reach by working with new organisations in the region. I’m really excited to see what more we can achieve through this project in the upcoming year.

Ifan Jones, Chief Operating Officer at the CRN WE said, “In our regional strategy we set out our commitment to delivering people centred research, ensuring equity of access to opportunities across people, geography, speciality and setting. We’re dedicated to making research more inclusive and accessible and working with community organisations is key to achieving this. The report offers insights for all those involved in delivering and supporting the delivery of research.”

Dr Stephen McGlynn, Deputy Chief Operating Officer at the CRN WE said, “It has been an invaluable learning experience for the CRN to support and be led by local community organisations, recognising the expertise and commitment that our partners bring. We’ve been really excited to hear of the enthusiasm for research within our local communities, while also recognising there is plenty of work for us to do in making research opportunities accessible for all. We have expanded our programme to fund further community organisation collaborations in 2023/24, and I would encourage anybody interested in community engagement - both those working in research and members of the public - to contact our Engagement Team if you’re interested in finding out more.”

Read the full report: