4 April 2024

Voluntary sector, community groups, NHS partners and research organisations have come together to celebrate the second year of Raising Voices in Research (RViR) which aims to increase diversity in research across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

A celebration event took place on Tuesday 26 March at the Central Hall in Southampton. Partners across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight came together to share the successes of their work over the last two years and the findings from the project.

The project, which was initially funded in December 2022 was successful in receiving funding for the second phase of £150,000 in September 2023. This brings the funding to nearly £250,000 from the Integrated Care Systems Research Engagement Network Development (REND) Programme from NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care.

The project was led by Action Hampshire along with project partners NHS Hampshire and Isle of Wight, University of Winchester, University Hospital Southampton and regional National Institute for Health & Care Research (NIHR) research partners. Other voluntary, community and social enterprise sector organisations helped deliver the project, bringing their communities’ views to help shape research.

Nicky Judd from Action Hampshire said: “This project has once again shown what an effective bridge voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations are to help us hear from and work with diverse communities. The insights that experts by experience have shared is gold dust! It’s exciting to see how much researchers learned through their interactions with these communities, and how they adapted their research methods as a result. Several communities told us this was the first time they have felt really heard.”

Phase two of the project, running from September 2023 - March 2024, has seen Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations, from phase one, working with researchers to put their recommendations into practice in their research projects.

Alongside this work, training is being co-designed between communities and the University of Winchester to share the work of Raising Voices in Research. The newly formed Hampshire & Isle of Wight Research Collaborative, has brought together those active in research or engagement who have a common aim and desire to make sure diverse communities voices are heard, has met throughout both phases.

Debra Gray from University of Winchester spoke about the evaluation and training “Our evaluation highlights the amazing impact that RViR has had on communities, VCSE organisations and researchers across Hampshire and Isle of Wight, providing spaces for conversations about research that didn’t exist before. We hope the training will continue to provide a bridge between the RViR communities and researchers through improving research experience and contribution.”

Eight new organisations have joined the project in phase two who work with and support people who are experiencing homelessness, those from the LGBTQIA+ community, asylum seekers and refugees. These groups have undertaken the phase one workshops that look to find out what barriers might prevent people from taking part in health research, and how these could be addressed, to try to increase the numbers able to take part in research.

All the organisations and their communities that have taken part in Raising Voices in Research have coproduced a Local Plan for Research, which includes key recommendations for all researchers who need to involve local people in their work, and how to plan for the recruitment of patients in an inclusive and diverse way.

Seven voluntary sector, community and social enterprise groups returned from phase one to take part in the project. The groups are:

  • Basingstoke Hindu Society
  • Drop the Mask CIC
  • Recapture Life
  • Sight for Wight
  • St Deny's Activity Group, Winchester
  • GoLD, and
  • Yellow Door.

They were joined by eight new organisations:

  • Work Better Innovations
  • Bridge to Unity
  • Portsmouth City of Sanctuary
  • Motiv8 South
  • Breakout Youth
  • Portsmouth Pride
  • Yellow Brick Road Projects, and
  • Step by Step.

Dr Matt Nisbet, Integrated Care Board Partner Member for Primary Care and Vice Chair Hampshire Health and Wellbeing Board said: “NHS Hampshire and Isle of Wight are incredibly pleased to support this piece of work. We see the impact of research in all of our work, and in my role as a GP I see the direct impact of research daily. I extend my sincere thanks for everyone who has taken part in this work and hope its reach continues beyond today.”

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Dr Karen Underwood, keynote speaker and Director of Research and Development at University Hospital Southampton, said: “We can all make a difference in the world. Each one of us has a unique voice and perspective to contribute. It is through our collective efforts that we can lead equitable and truly meaningful research.

“We must make sure the research we do is the research that people need. This means engaging those who are seldom heard, underserved or experiencing the greatest health inequalities.

“It is encouraging to see new relationships growing through this project and we are committed to building on this momentum together.”

Following on from the celebration event the findings from the work will be evaluated and shared with partners including all the groups and NHS England.


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