The British Science Association is looking for researchers to become volunteer Community Buddies, supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). If you are from one of the areas listed below and are interested in being involved, please get in touch using the Expression of Interest form linked below.

Working with community organisers for the last six years, we’ve noticed that they rarely have access to researchers. The appetite to work collaboratively is there, and many are looking for science role models that live locally who they can build into their engagement activities.

To enable these connections, we piloted our Community Buddy programme in 2020, pairing 14 Community Leaders with active researchers to meet and discover common interests—any projects or ideas that developed were entirely up to them. 

After the success of this programme, we’re now looking for a further 14 researchers to join our latest cohort of Community Leaders.

What’s involved?

To be part of the programme, you must

  • live locally to one of our Community Leaders (see below for the list of areas),
  • be a researcher actively linked to a university or research institution,
  • be able to volunteer your time,
  • commit to attending one half-day training session in late summer/early September of 2021,
  • commit to meeting with your buddy at least six times over a six-to-eight-month period,
  • to set aside any agendas when you first meet and to develop any outcomes together using a relational mindset*.

See below for a list of areas.

*We will provide training on relational meetings in the summer session. With this approach, we ask that you discover common interests and goals instead of starting with a specific project in mind: any projects or ideas that follow develop from this shared space.

In late summer to early September 2021, we’ll pair and introduce our buddies and provide the initial online training session. We then ask buddy pairs to meet face-to-face (local lockdown restrictions allowing) for a minimum of six sessions over six to eight months. What you talk about is up to you; this is an opportunity to get to know each other’s work and see what may develop.

What are the benefits?

“My work doesn't obviously lend itself to working with community groups, but I have seen how flexibility of thought about my work can lead to some exciting collaborations.” Community Buddy 2021, Researcher.

Researchers who previously took part in this scheme have found a number of benefits. Many developed new working relationships with their local Community Leader and community members, allowing for the development of long-term engagement and impact projects. Others have found fresh perspectives and ideas for their work. Some of these buddy pairs are continuing to develop project ideas, including innovative collaborations that benefit both the local community and their research.

“Previously, I had done a lot of public engagement as a 'one off' event and not as a regular event at the same place. Since joining the [Community Buddies] programme I have changed this approach so that I'm now doing more regular interactions with the same groups. I'm finding this approach better and [more] rewarding.” Community Buddy 2021, Researcher.

In our pilot programme, projects that have been developed include a digital tour of a working lab, a cybersecurity workshop for young people and a talk shared on community radio. One Community Leader is trialling new evaluation methods in a collaboration between their researcher buddy’s students and community group. Another pair is developing an interactive map of a museum space for and with people with hidden disabilities. The outcome is entirely up to you, but nothing can happen if you don’t know each other in the first place!

In March 2022, we’ll bring everyone together for a meeting in London where you can share your experiences and learn from other researchers and Community Leaders.

If you live in one of the following areas and would like to get involved, please complete the short Expression of Interest form by Monday 31 May 2021. It should take no more than ten minutes to complete.

You will be asked for your name, university/institution, location (town/city), area(s) of research, brief details on any previous community engagement experience and why you are interested in taking part. No previous experience with community engagement is required. We’ll get in touch with the next steps.

Locations

Town/City

Region

Community Leader’s Organisation

Abbey Wood

London

LPF Kiddies Club

Anglesey

Wales

Canolfan Ebeneser

Blackburn with Darwen

North West England

IMO Charity

Clonmore

Northern Ireland

Clonmore Youth Club

Coventry

West Midlands

West Indian Community Action

Dudley

West Midlands

Jasmine Road Community Gardens

East London

London

East African Education Foundation

Grimsby

Yorkshire and the Humber

Foresight North East Lincolnshire Ltd

Haringey

London

Abundance Centres (UK)

Leeds

Yorkshire and the Humber

LeedsGATE Gypsy and Traveller Exchange

Leeds

Yorkshire and the Humber

 Damasq Ltd

Leyburn

North East

Leyburn Arts & Community Centre

Southampton

South East

Chinese Association of Southampton

Tenby

Wales

3rd Tenby Brownies


Find out more about the Community Buddy programme in this 
Q&A blog, where we asked a Community Buddy pair about their experience. 

You can learn more about our programme of community engagement work here. If you have any questions, please get in touch at [email protected]