This site is optimised for modern browsers. For the best experience, please use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

Findings shared from Greater Manchester’s first Research Ready Communities project

Older people living in a part of Greater Manchester have shared their perceptions of research as part of an NIHR collaboration with the community. 

Research Ready Communities (RRC) is an NIHR initiative taking place across the country. The scheme is designed to engage underserved communities to improve inclusion and representation in health and care research. 

The first RRC project in Greater Manchester has been carried out by Salford-based community organisation Inspiring Communities Together (ICT), with support from NIHR Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester. 

In addition to members of the ICT team, two locally-based ‘Community Champions’ were also given training to equip them with the skills to go out and speak about research with older people living in the Pendleton and Charlestown areas of Salford. 

They had conversations with these communities in order to understand their levels of awareness and perceptions of research. 

The Community Champions did this primarily by visiting people in sheltered housing accommodation to conduct group exercises and one-to-basis discussions. They also went to people’s homes and to a health fair in Salford. 

They also carried out a mapping exercise to gather a picture of key people, groups, services and places where older members of the community can find out about research and get involved.

Their project findings and an action plan for future activities were presented by ICT during a special event at St Sebastian Community Centre in Salford on 16 November 2023. 

The main findings from the project were:

  • a lack of understanding of research: Many thought it would involve needles and/or procedures; that it would take up a lot of their time; that language used is too technical
  • a negative personal experience: Many did not know how to get involved; it can feel disempowering, outcomes aren’t shared
  • motivation to get involved: To help others; because of an experience of a particular health condition; to improve services

Antonia Dunn, Research Ready Communities Project Lead at Inspiring Communities Together, said:

“I think everyone who has been involved has thoroughly enjoyed the experience and found it incredibly useful and helpful. Our Community Champions have been really engaged; the older people in the community have been really forthcoming and very supportive of what we have been doing and we have really enjoyed working with the NIHR. 

“Moving forward, we are potentially going to be looking at a health literacy project to particularly support older people in the community to understand what research actually means.”

Mary Speake, Lead for the CRN North West Workforce, Learning and Development Team, said: 

"From the moment we approached them about the Research Ready Communities initiative, it has been an amazing experience for us to work with Inspiring Communities Together. We had a real alignment on both sides from the very beginning, as we wanted to find out more about what our older communities want and need from research, and ICT were a community organisation ready for that challenge. They foster a learning organisation culture and I like to think that we do, too. 

“This experience has helped our team to understand how we can best support the next Research Ready Communities project and informed us that ICT are precisely the kind of community organisation that we want to foster long-term relationships with. We already have plans for them to be involved in a research literacy project as part of the next Research Engagement Network Development in collaboration with other parts of the NIHR including the Applied Research Collaboration Greater Manchester and VOCAL.”