Community Engagement

Working collaboratively and engaging with communities is at the heart of ARC EoE

We engage and involve under-represented communities in health and social care research and develop community-led approaches to solve problems. We identified four areas in the region as 'populations-in-focus', to build relationships and develop community-driven research addressing local health and social care need. These areas are diverse places, across the large geographical footprint of the Eastern region, with a diversity of health and care needs. They include dispersed rural areas of Fenland; diverse city of Peterborough; post-war ‘new-town’ of Stevenage; and coastal communities with ageing populations in Great Yarmouth.

East of England Map. Identifying Peterborough and Fenland, Great Yarmouth and Waveney, Stevenage and Thurrock.

This work has supported the creation of the Stevenage Dementia Involvement Group, building health and wellbeing research links with children and families in Stevenage.  We have worked with carers, health and social care professionals, local and national voluntary organisations in Great Yarmouth and Waveney to develop and trial a new Carer Support Nurse role and evaluated a method to support communities in Great Yarmouth and Waveney to make use of their own skills and resources to support and improve the experiences of people experiencing life-limiting illness, loss or grief

I am so pleased to be given the opportunity to be involved with the group and know that my thoughts and feelings are being listened to and hopeful that this may lead to positive change

Stevenage Dementia Involvement Group Member

Our researchers have spent time talking and listening to those living and working in Thurrock to understand local health and social care priorities, this has led to working closely with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. And in Peterborough, we have evaluated a culturally adapted intervention for use in faith institutions to see if this could improve uptake of bowel cancer screening in the Muslim community

In May 2023, we undertook a review of this approach, to understand if it has helped to develop meaningful engagement and strong links with these areas.  You can read the full report from this research and examples of projects in these areas and the difference they have made here: 

Walk with us

In the summer of 2022 and 2023, our research team at the University of Hertfordshire arranged walks in the communities that we work with. They came up with the idea because we wanted to do some engagement in person and provide events that would be fun and didn’t necessarily have a fixed agenda. It is a great opportunity to meet people in our communities for a walk and talk outdoors, appreciating the local scenery, country parks and occasional café! The walks have been a great way to connect and spend time together in person. You can read more about the walks here.  

Digital drawings inspired by Walks in Stevenage, Grays, Thurrock and Waveney. Image Credit: Terry Hall

Inspired by Walks in Stevenage, Grays, Thurrock and Waveney. Image Credit: Terry Hall

The Reaching Out Programme

Reaching Out was commissioned by INVOLVE and the Research Design Service in 2018.

  • Purpose - to encourage the development of new public involvement and engagement relationships, and new or more effective approaches to building relationships within communities.
  • Emphasis - on members of the community who are not usually, or consistently, involved in health, social care and public health research.
  • Aim - to support new or improved research partnerships and broaden involvement in research. 

INVOLVE has published A Practical Guide to Being Inclusive in Public Involvement in Health based on the learnings from the Reaching Out Projects

More information can be found here

Increasing participation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups in health and social care research

Download the "Increasing participation of BAME groups in research toolkit" from the NIHR ARC East Midlands website here. This toolkit aims to capture best practice and provide researchers with a framework on how to improve the participation of BAME groups in research.