Are you a community group who wants to connect with researchers? Are you a researcher who wants to connect with communities? We want to hear from you!
Research and Innovation is increasingly recognising the value of embedding lived experience and expertise beyond the academic realm within research practice and process. Learning institutions and funders acknowledge communities directly affected by the issues and challenges driving research are frequently excluded from having an equal stake in power and decision-making. We are seeking to address this collectively to improve our research engagement and impact now and for future generations.
We are embarking on developing support, resources and opportunities for communities and researchers to work together more equitably. In 2022 we commissioned an external consultant to undertake some initial research into engaging with the wider Cambridge community. The insights and recommendations in the report have given us much to reflect on, learn from and act upon. We have begun by recruiting a role responsible for leading on the development of our Community Engagement Strategy. They will support and facilitate relationships between community groups and researchers to grow and diversify the groups we are listening to and collaborating with, both through our events and our research.
In this initial stage we are starting close to home, reaching out to local communities and research communities to understand what people want and need from research collaborations, investing time and care in our relationships. We are identifying where we have agency to act within our own programmes, where there are opportunities to collaborate with colleagues across the university community working to improve access and inclusion, and where the development of strategic approaches are required to support the implementation and impact of this work. This work is by no means happening in isolation, as we connect with and learn from peers and best practice in the field, and hope in time to contribute to the wider landscape of community engagement across the UK and beyond. We are committed to listening to and co-producing our community engagement with communities from the start to ensure the infrastructure and opportunities we create are inclusive, equitable and mutually beneficial. We are acting now, planning long-term, and excited about what we can achieve working in partnership.