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 application window is now open

We are currently accepting applications for our 2023 Community Buddy Grants. Grants of up to £4,000 are available for individual Buddy pairs from our 2022-23 cohort to run projects between July – December 2023.

To be eligible for a grant, the application must come from the Community Leader (rather than the researcher) from a buddy pairing.

The deadline for applications is Monday, 15 May 2023, at 5pm. All applications should be made online via the grant application form.

Read the full grant guidelines and apply here

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].