The British Science Association runs the Community Buddy programme with support by funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of our ongoing community engagement work. The programme connects Community Leaders with local researchers to spark new ideas and drive innovative community-led science engagement.

The programme aims to:

  • Create greater empathy and understanding between researchers and communities; 
  • Support researchers and communities to create authentic, mutually beneficial relationships with equal sharing of power;
  • Increase the skills and capabilities of both researchers and communities to engage with each other.

The Community Buddy programme is split into two phases;

It's been nice to have a new project ideaa new source of inspiration. I wouldn't have gone down this route ever before.

- 2021 Community Buddy (Community Leader) 

In the Grant phase of the Community Buddy programme, we provide grants of up to £4,000 to support Community Leaders and researchers who have been part of the Community Buddy programme. The aim of these grants is for the Community Buddy pairs to develop their existing relationships and co-create projects that are mutually beneficial and respond to local needs. Also, we aim to further facilitate a legacy that will last beyond the British Science Association’s involvement in the scheme.

To find out more about the Community Buddies programme, check out these recent blogs: 

2023 Community Buddy Grant recipients 

Easdale Primary School - Elisabeth Von Hagel Stevenson (Community Leaders) & Hannah Grist (Scotland's Rural College) aim to provide monthly sessions for intergenerational collaborative activities between the local primary school and the community members of Seil and Luing. Through the project, communities will be empowered to lead their own scientific investigations, whilst utilising Scotland’s Rural Colleges’ “Grow Cubes".

VICTALuke Wakefield (Community Leader) & Yoseph Araya (Open University) are bringing together a series of local Visual Impairment (VI) organisations from across the UK to improve social connectedness among VI young people, whilst using the Open University’s iSpot tool, which is a citizen science device used to identify and record wild species.

Creative LivesSeonaid Murray (Community Leader) & Trevor Agus (Queens University, Belfast) project, Aethereal Material!, is an exploration of the symbiotic relationship between sound, conversation and music, making use of 'speech-to-song' auditory illusion. After collecting stories, the group participants will have the opportunity to learn about the recording process and take part in editing their own work.

International Community Organisation of Sunderland - Julia Wysocka (Community Leader) & Andrea Kay (Country Durham & Darlington Foundation NHS Trust) goal of their project is to raise awareness and the importance of healthcare research among Eastern European women (in particular women in pregnancy or of childbearing age) to create equal opportunities in research participation.

Oldham LibrariesKate Smyth (Community Leader) & Jennifer Cromwell (Manchester Metropolitan University) will invite children and families, to explore the effects of the climate emergency and its impacts in Oldham. Staff will be trained to facilitate participants in using Minecraft to create eco-friendly structures inspired by sustainable buildings and renewable energy sources found locally.

Pennine Lancashire Community FarmHelen Clark (Community Leader) & Alina Haines (Manchester Metropolitan University) plan to co-create research which harnesses the ideas/questions that are specific to the local community of Burnley involved in the Community Farm. Following a period of exploration to identify community needs and interests, a series of events and engagement sessions will be held to support the community researcher in completing the study.

West Indian Community ActionMaxine Smalling (Community Leader) & Cleo White (University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire) are bringing together a group of Black and multi-ethnic minority Coventry residents, aged 11 – 16 years, to meet regularly and learn from local role models and engage in activities, with the aim of understanding and combatting their negative perceptions of STEM.

Bristol Multi Faith ForumTripti Megeri (Community Leader) & Rox Middleton (University of Bristol) have thought historically about how Bristol Multi Faith Forum have relied on activity providers and paid for facilitators to develop science engagement activities. This project will utilise the connections of Tripti’s researcher buddy to set up a pool of researchers and outreach workers at the University of Bristol who can be called upon for co-delivery by the community group going forward.

2022 Community Buddy Grant recipients 

Canolfan EbeneserCarl Gillam (Community Leader) & Gary Robinson (Bangor University) aim, through a series of workshops, guided tours, and a new Young Adventurers Club, to engage local communities on the Isle of Anglesey in exploring the physical and intangible heritage of the Island.

IMONazarana Yusuf (Community Leader) & Oliver Kerr (UCLan) are looking to bridge the gender gap in Computer Science GCSE uptake and future career prospects through an escape room style event delivered by young people.

East African Education FoundationMohammed Salim (Community Leader) & Garyfallos Konstantinoudis (Imperial College London) given the low uptake of vaccination among BME communities across the UK, including Barking and Dagenham, Mohammed, with the support of his Buddy, is undertaking qualitative research to understand COVID-19 vaccine scepticism.

3rd Tenby BrowniesSarah Greener (Community Leader) & Bridie Evans (Swansea University) are focused on encouraging girls to enter the world of STEM, through their demystifying Brownie trip to Swansea University, where they will experience a range of interactive workshops, and a follow-up careers-carousel event from local STEM professionals.

Abundance Centres (UK) Development TrustAstehmari Batekun (Community Leader) & Priyank Shukla (Ulster University) are looking to engage 360+ STEM enthusiasts and professionals as they prepare to create a uLearn Naturally Community Science Lab, beginning with a pre-establishment where local residents can learn about the enriching potential of the site.

Foresight North East LincolnshireAmy Dixon (Community Leader) & Dr Emily Caseley (University of Leeds) have co-developed a programme of monthly high-quality science activities to strengthen and deepen the science aspirations of the disabled community they serve. This will provide an opportunity which is currently unavailable in North East Lincolnshire for the disabled community.

LPF Kiddies ClubCarmel Britto (Community Leader) & Ben Woods (Birkbeck University) will aid twenty-five, 11-14-year-olds in exploring engineering and technology solutions to medical and environmental problems through research, gardening, and designing prototypes. With the aim of widening participation of African heritage children, especially girls, into studying STEM at Higher Levels.

2021 Community Buddy Grant recipients

Paul Hyde, Whippet Up (Community Leader) with Natalie Butcher, Teesside University (researcher). This Community Buddy pair created public events combining novel scientific research (such as facial recognition) with interactive art activities, linking marginalised people to community activity.

Juliette Jackson, Seadream Education (Community Leader) with Julia Latham, (independent conservation consultant) worked together to raise awareness of the dangers of litter to marine conservation in their local area and promote the benefits of preserving the natural environment to the community.

Saoirse Higgins, Papay Development Trust (Community Leader) with Joanne Porter, Heriot-Watt University (researcher). Saoirse and Joanne put their funding towards co-creatively visualising the Marine Protected Area that surrounds Papa Westray, making this tangible to the island community and the wider public.

Yang Zhou, Mandarin Speakers Association Derry (Community Leader) and Kevin Curran, Ulster University (researcher). This Community Buddy pair organised a summer programme, which included a combination of online and in-person events, to engage young people in STEM and address concerns from the local community on gaps in STEM knowledge due to COVID-19-related school disruptions.

Gemma Martin, Wheal Martyn (Community Leader) with Katharine Willis, University of Plymouth (researcher). Our next Community Buddy pair focussed on exploring how to best engage with museum visitors that have hidden disabilities, including those with ASD, by creating an interactive 3D map of the Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum.

Mohammed Attaur Rahman, Wardleworth Community Centre / Rochdale Science Initiative (Community Leader) with Claire Garside, University of Leeds (researcher) aimed to inspire Muslim people in their local community to feel proud, and learn more about their own STEM heritage through a series of workshops on the relationship between science and Islam.

Claudia McFarlane, African Caribbean Achievement Project (Community Leader) with James Poulter, University of Leeds (researcher). This Community Buddy pair encouraged children from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in science, to pursue a career in STEM by establishing a highly requested regular science club.

The format of the Community Buddy programme is a unique one; it uses the community organising practice centred around the core principle of “People before Programme”, encouraging the purposeful discovery of common goals in lieu of an agenda-driven approach. Due to the nature of this approach, projects and aims may grow and develop over time.

For more information about the work the British Science Association does to support and engage with community groups, please visit our Community Engagement page and follow BSA Communities on Twitter.

If you have any questions about the programme, please email [email protected].