Blackpool selected as a national pilot for Research Ready Communities Programme

Blackpool is set to become a national pilot for the new National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research Ready Communities programme.

The Research Ready Communities programme helps local communities to find out about what health research is, how it can benefit them, and how to take part in and shape research. It also connects communities to researchers and health organisations and offers communities a way to speak out about the health issues that are important to them. The programme does this by working with community organisations and leaders and with local services to make research information and opportunities easier to access.

Why does being research ready matter?

Health research offers important benefits to everyone who takes part. For individuals with health conditions, it can help them to access treatment and will often give them access to increased levels of care. For people without a health condition, it can be a rewarding way of volunteering and helping to advance the knowledge, care and treatment that can benefit others, including their own community and friends and family. Everyone who takes part in health research will learn more about their own health, and will help improve care for everybody.

We need health research to help us prevent illness and treat people when they become unwell. It is important that health research is delivered in the UK that answers the questions that matter to all communities.

Right now however, many groups don’t have equal access to the benefits of research, and don’t have a chance to make sure that health research answers the questions they care about. Research Ready Communities aims to change this. By empowering local groups and leaders to work with national research bodies and the NHS it aims to create bridges between communities and health research and end inequalities in health research access.

What are the benefits of joining Research Ready Communities for your group or organisation?

1. Empower your members through increased access to truth-worthy information about health research, and the chance to ask questions and get answers from researchers and medical professionals

2. Offer your members another platform to speak out on issues that affect health in their community, in order to help shape future research locally and nationally

3. An opportunity for skills development for any members of your group who sign up as Community Champions

4. Join a local and national network of organisations who are all working towards a goal of ending inequalities in health research and health

What taking part means for your organisation or group

Step 1: Sign up your organisation. A local lead for the scheme will be able to talk through the programme with you and answer any questions you may have, and they can help you sign up quickly and easily

Step 2: Help recruit Community Champions. Each Research Ready organisation is invited to help us recruit between one and two Research Champions from among your members- we will provide a role description and information pack. They will work with the scheme for up to six days (paid £150 a day) to help us identify opportunities to get your community research ready.

Step 3: Join a community planning event. The Research Champions from yours and other community groups will share the findings from their work and together you’ll agree a plan to help your community become research ready. There will be a £1500 budget to support the plan delivery.

Step 4: Help deliver the plan. Your group will be asked to help us roll out the local plan in ways that are right for you and that fit the time you have. This could be as simple as putting up posters in your own space to something more involved. There will be monthly calls for you and/or your Champions to share updates on delivering the plan, and get support from us.

Step 5: Celebrate and reflect. There will be an end of project event for the organisations and Champions involved in research ready communities across the country. It will be a chance to celebrate progress and take stock of what has been learnt.

The whole process lasts 6 months and there is a chance to stay in the network after that. Your group will receive a £300 payment for your time across the scheme to attend meetings and help recruit and support champions.

How can your group or organisation get involved?

If you are involved in a community group in Blackpool and would like to know more about how to join, please contact greg.woodley@nihr.ac.uk to arrange an informal chat and learn more about how this programme can improve the health of your community.