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New funding boosts diversity in research participation

Posted: 23rd October 2023

As part of the second phase of the NHS Research Engagement Network Development programme, South Yorkshire Innovation Hub worked in partnership with South Yorkshire Integrated Care System (ICS) and VCSE Alliance to secure £93,000 of funding to work with voluntary and community organisations, local National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) partners and health and care staff from across the region to share best practice for designing and delivering inclusive research.

South Yorkshire ICS has set out a vision that everyone in our diverse communities lives a healthy, happy life for longer and achieving that ambition will require testing new ideas and applying research into practice. It is of paramount importance that individuals engaged in health and care research mirror the vibrant diversity of our communities, ensuring that the evidence and insights shaping decision-making reflect the varied experiences of our population, reducing existing inequalities and preventing inequalities from worsening.

In South Yorkshire, a significant portion of the population faces reduced life expectancy and prolonged periods of ill health, with disparities existing among different communities. Tackling these challenges requires a strong emphasis on inclusive research. To effectively address this issue, health and care research must focus on understanding the experiences of underserved populations and actively involve historically marginalised groups.

Thanks to this funding, the South Yorkshire Community Foundation and Diverse City will deliver a 6-month programme of collaborative, network building activity that will involve:

  • Sharing best practice about how to design and deliver inclusive research in South Yorkshire through a grants programme that will distribute funding to partners to capture their community insight and lessons learnt about inclusive research delivery to share with others
  • Building networks and creating new partnerships between VCSE partners and health and care organisations through a series of collaborative workshops
  • Co-designing a set of inclusive research principles that reflect the collective knowledge and insight of partners

Sarah Dew, Programme Director of the South Yorkshire Innovation Hub, who co-led on the proposal development for South Yorkshire ICS with Karen Smith, Programme Director of the VCSE Alliance, says:

“Being awarded this funding is a key asset in helping us to achieve our ambitions in South Yorkshire, specifically creating a culture of learning, innovation and research to improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities. The proposal was co-developed with partners from across South Yorkshire, to develop a programme of work that will support and amplify the great work already underway in our region. We were impressed by the enthusiasm from partners to collaborate on this important agenda, and look forward to seeing what we achieve together.”

Karen Smith, Programme Director of the VCSE Alliance, says:

“What set this national programme apart from others was its focus on fostering partnerships between voluntary and community sectors and health and care organisations and research institutions. We have a vibrant VCSE sector in South Yorkshire who know our population deeply, and who as a result have an impressive track record of collaborating on health and care research and ensuring diverse communities are involved. We’re pleased that this funding will support us to further invest in VCSE organisations to support them to put communities at the heart of health and care research”

Dr David Crichton, Chief Medical Officer for NHS South Yorkshire Integrated Care Board says:

“I am pleased that we will be working with communities and the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector to work towards a future where everyone in South Yorkshire has the chance to be involved in research. It is important for us to build our connections with citizens from different backgrounds, some of whom may not have heard of, or been involved in research previously. It’s only with participation from all the population that we serve, that we can fully understand their needs and plan services to meet them.”

If you would like more information about this initiative, please contact