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Showcase event reveals impact of research grant

Website banner image of speaker for Showcase event article

“Wow!” “Inspiring!” “Powerful!”

Just three words used to describe our first ever Showcase Event to celebrate work undertaken with communities under-served by research.

The event brought together community groups, NHS teams and academics who received small grants towards projects to help make health and care research more inclusive.

The grants covered a range of projects, each targeting communities under-served by research. These groups included:

  • Young adults living with diabetes
  • People from diverse ethnic communities living with dementia
  • At risk groups engaging with NHS Talking Therapies
  • Improving maternity services for ethnically diverse groups
  • Deprived city centre communities - building a healthy community life through inclusive and interactive movement 
  • Looked after children and young people in alternative education settings
  • Racially minoritised and under-served communities in Hampshire

The presentations offered an incredible insight into the range of work undertaken at grass roots level, as the result of these grants. 

Keynote speaker Dr Anastasia Lungu-Mulenga, Head of Community Engagement and Experience, Solent NHS Trust, shared her experiences of working alongside men from minoritised communities, LGBTQ+, people who use or are recovering from substance misuse, unpaid carers, the homeless, people with learning disabilities and travellers. 

She stressed the importance of beginning this work face to face, taking it slowly and being culturally sensitive. “Never answer the questions before you’ve asked it,” she warned. “And always acknowledge people’s lived experience of the health and care system. Respect their cynicism.”

She emphasised it takes time to build trust, the need to be honest and manage expectations and the importance of recognising our communities have many strengths and skills. Her rallying cry: “Recognise and celebrate your communities as a source of knowledge, skills and expertise.” 

Helen Sloan, Public Contributor for National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) Wessex, said: ‘'These wonderful projects really give a voice to a diverse range of communities. It has been such a privilege to have been part of the showcase event and to be a member of the under-served communities group which developed the small grant scheme.”

Clare Rook, Chief Operating Officer for NIHR CRN Wessex, commented: “This event really brought to life all the amazing work done as part of this scheme, and shows the huge impact a small grant can have. Grant holders demonstrated some really innovative ways of involving groups of people who are often under-served by research - these collaborations are key to strengthening links between community organisations and researchers which will ultimately improve health and care for everyone.”