As part of our ongoing community engagement work, the British Science Association (BSA) runs a Community Leaders programme supported by funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The aim of the programme is to harness the passion and ideas of individuals who work with underrepresented audiences and to enhance their skills to enable them to become leaders of science engagement in their communities.

2018-2019 Community Leader, Carmel Britto (LPF Kiddies Club)
speaking at a British Science Week event. 

Each year, we recruit and train 12 individuals who are members of the BSA Community Engagement Network, and who have previously received a British Science Week, British Science Festival or other Community Grant to become science ambassadors in their regions of the UK. Each Leader is carefully selected based on their strong and established relationships with their communities, which is why we believe they are the ones best placed to deliver high-quality, impactful science engagement.

These individuals are drawn from volunteer and community sector organisations, of which there are over 160,000 in the UK. Most of these organisation (over 80%) are defined as “micro” or “small”, with an annual income of under £100,000. Yet their importance in serving local communities and addressing local needs is invaluable.

Through the Community Leaders programme, we upskill our group of participants, support them in developing long-term science engagement projects and help facilitate collaboration between their community groups and the science communication sector. Since the launch of the programme in 2018, Community Leaders has enabled dozens of individuals to flourish by building on their skills, boosting their confidence and offering support along the way.

Science is everywhere. It’s all around us, happening right under our noses. Being able to show, first-hand, how science is being practised a short walk from their home is powerful.

- Community Leader

Meet our 2022-3 cohort of Community Leaders

Arun Bector, BME Housing Consortium 

As Project Manager with The BME Housing Consortium, Arun works in partnership with local Black ethnic minority, refugee and migrant communities, carers, and vulnerable individuals to identify, assess and prioritise their housing, health, social care and support needs. Their “ground up” community engagement and co-creation approach ensures their projects are user-led and meet the needs of the diverse individuals and communities they work with. As a result, they have developed projects across housing, mental health, drug misuse, learning disabilities, science and furniture recycling. 

Read more about Arun's grant-funded community activities 

Claire Schmidlin, STEAMISTIC 

STEAMTISTIC was set up by Claire to facilitate child-led, free-play clubs where neurodivergent families can engage with science, technology, engineering, the arts, and maths (STEAM) activities in a way that is meaningful to them and makes them happy. As an autistic-led group, they liaise with STEAM centres, community groups and charities to facilitate workshops on how to explore neurodiversity through the medium of STEAM, reduce barriers to inclusion and develop projects that engage an even wider range of children. 

Glory Attipoe, 5th Impact UK 

5th Impact UK is a collective of professionals drawn from human resources, social work and mental health services. They are committed to tackling social issues that affect ethnic minorities, young people and communities. Glory is keen to gain further skills and experience organising science related events, while becoming part of a network of likeminded Leaders, to develop her group’s interest in science, technology, innovation, and creativity. 

Hajia Saidat Oketunde, Faiths Women Community UK 

Hajia is the founder of Faiths Women Community UK and a holder of several high-profile community roles. She conducts training workshops to empower women of all faiths through the successful delivery of various projects increasing community cohesion and breaking the barrier of isolation. She strives for improvements in health and wellbeing by conducting dance therapy sessions, overseeing parenting workshops and managing activities for people of all ages.

Helen Hughes, Stephens and George Charitable Trust 

Helen has been a Chief Executive and Director in the charity sector for over 30 years. In 2012, she was shortlisted for Chwarae Tef Woman Inspire Awards Wales and in 2022 Director of the Year Awards IOD Third Sector. She is a qualified youth and play worker. Helen currently heads up the Stephens and George Charitable Trust, which in 2022 was awarded a Queens award MBE for charities and Best Training and Education Project in the UK, as well as Shortlisted in 2020 Best Organisation in Wales. 

Iqra Akhtar, Banbury Madni Masjid 

Banbury Madni Masjid is a non-profit organisation providing religious services, a range of classes, sports and more. As a teaching assistant, Iqra supports Arabic and religious classes. Iqra also takes part in running workshops and community events, helping to raise awareness, and providing support. Through the Leaders programme, Iqra hopes the resources and training provided will help Banbury Madni Masjid to plan and deliver longer-term science projects, to inspire their community members to further engage in different fields of science and STEM subjects. 

Justine Kigozi Nakimuli Odwongo, Ugandan Community Association Liverpool 

Justine has been a mental health nurse manager at the NHS for over 15 years. Alongside her work in the NHS, Justine has founded a number of charities including Mind, Body and Soul mental health, which advocates and mentors young ethnic minorities in Merseyside. Through the Community Leaders programme, Justine is keen to upskill the young people of her local area in scientific research and mental health awareness. 

Read more about Justine's grant-funded community activities

Lesley Self, ArtCare at Salisbury District Hospital 

Lesley is the curator of exhibitions, collections, and archives for ArtCare - the arts in health service, at Salisbury District Hospital. ArtCare aims to inspire creativity and innovation in healthcare and to raise awareness of the importance of a creative hospital environment to patient and staff wellbeing. ArtCare’s core work falls under four categories: patient experience, public engagement, staff wellbeing and innovation. They work collaboratively with local schools, colleges and engage in community-based arts. 

Nusrat Begum, SocietyLinks Tower Hamlets 

As head grant bidder and administrator for SocietyLinks, Nusrat liaises with funders and organises projects for service users. Established in 2010, SocietyLinks is a community-based charity providing opportunities and activities to address the needs of disadvantaged people living in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Through small, targeted projects, they empower people to make significant lifestyle and social changes, and to achieve long-term improvements to their quality of life and that of their family. 

Paul Hollick, 1st Yetminster Scout Group 

As a retired Dorset Police Officer, Paul now works as a First Responder across the Country. He lives in a rural village in the north of Dorset, where he is a Group Scout Leader, Scout and Cub Leader, as well as serving as a Community Emergency First Responder and Parish Councillor. As many aspects of scouting involve science, the Group enjoy exploring how science can deepen our understanding of the world around us.

Robert Whan, Armagh Robinson Library 

Robert is the Director of Armagh Robinson Library. Established in 1771, it is the oldest public library in Northern Ireland, an accredited museum and popular tourist attraction. Robert’s experience taking part in British Science Week and the Northern Ireland Science Festival has demonstrated to him how fusing heritage/history with science is a great way to engage underrepresented audiences. With the aid of the training sessions and the new contacts that he can build through participating in the Community Leaders Programme, Robert is keen to develop this area of the Library's work. 

Shikha Ahuja, Milan Senior Welfare Organisation

Shikha is an outreach support worker for Milan Senior Welfare Organisation and supports elderly people from South Asian Communities in Edinburgh and the Lothians. The organisation has been established for over 30 years and is registered with the care inspectorate. They organise activities for the elderly and their carers to improve their mental and physical health and wellbeing. Shikha is keen to build on the science activities they have been running over the past three years.  

Find out more about our 2022/23 Community Leaders

These new Community Leaders will become ambassadors in their respective regions of the UK. The role will involve establishing long-term science engagement and supporting the BSA in driving collaboration between community groups and the science communication sector. 

To prepare the Leaders for the role, the BSA will deliver group training sessions, covering topics such as building confidence with science, event programming, and public relations and marketing. At the training sessions, Leaders will also share their experiences with one another and form their own support network. 

While completing their training, each Leader will be awarded £1,000 to develop projects for British Science Week 2023 and beyond.  

You can follow the Community Leaders’ journeys and learnings over on the BSA’s blog, where we will be posting updates regularly.

To find out more about the Community Leader programme and the impact it’s had on some of our previous Leaders, please see our Community Showcase Report.

Image of first Community Leaders cohort

Being a 'BSA Community Leader' adds value and legitimacy to holding science events, and sparks interest from teachers, community leaders, councillors and budget holders.

- Community Leader

Previous cohorts

Our 2021-2022 Community Leaders:

Find out more about our 2021/2022 Community Leaders

Our 2020-2021 Community Leaders:

Our 2019-2020 Community Leaders:

  • Amar Azam, Unleashing Potential 
  • Jackie Barnes, It’s Your Life 
  • Nicola Brown, Doncaster Alcohol Services 
  • Paul Hyde, Whippet Up 
  • Juliette Jackson, Seadream Education
  • Zaffer Khan, One Voice Blackburn
  • Erika Lye, Mountain Movers
  • Claudia McFarlane, African Caribbean Achievement Project
  • Neil McLaughlin, Barnet Libraries
  • Marsha Fisher, Sutton African and Caribbean Cultural Organisation
  • Lindsay White, Rother Voluntary Action 

More on our 2019/2020 Community Leaders

Blog: Celebrating our Community Leaders

Our 2018-2019 Community Leaders:

  • Fawaz Alghofari, Syrian Community of Leeds
  • Mohammed Attaur Rahman, Wardleworth Community Centre 
  • Carmel Britto, LPF Kiddies Club
  • Ann Fomukong-Boden, Kakou
  • Carl Gillam, Canolfan Ebeneser
  • Saoirse Higgins, Papay Development Trust
  • Gemma Martin, Wheal Martyn
  • Mathew Rogers, St Michael's Youth Project
  • Leah Vellam-Steptoe, Frank Wise School
  • Stephen Williams, OASIS Community Centre and Gardens
  • Yang Zhou, Mandarin Speakers Association Derry

Find out more about our 2018/2019 Community Leaders

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].