As part of our ongoing community engagement work, the British Science Association 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 underserved audiences and to enhance their skills to enable them to become leaders of science engagement in their communities.

Each year we recruit twelve individuals who had previously received a British Science Week, British Science Festival or other Community Engagement Network Community Grant, or previously held community science events during British Science Week, to become ambassadors in their regions of the UK. Each Leader is already doing fantastic work and has strongly established relationships with their communities, which is why we believe they are the ones best placed to deliver high-quality, impactful science engagement. 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.

"[The programme] changed my understanding, it made me think, it made me look into things a bit more." - Community Leader from cohort 1

Applications to join our 2021-2 Community Leader Programme are now closed.

2021-2 cohort of Community Leaders

After another successful year, the British Science Association is pleased to announce the details of our fourth cohort of Community Leaders.

Each member is chosen on the basis of their established relationships with their communities and outstanding work across the UK, enabling them to deliver high-quality, impactful science engagement:

Elisabeth Von Hagel Stevenson, The Rockfield Centre

The Rockfield Centre is a community centre in Oban which focuses on heritage, the arts, wellbeing and education. As the Heritage Officer at the Rockfield Centre, Elisabeth coordinates a programme that tells the story of Oban, its community and natural heritage through the Centre and activities that enable younger and older people to interact, learn and develop new skills.

Gina Richardson, Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services (UTASS)

Gina is the Youth Work Lead at UTASS which supports the rural communities of County Durham through outreach, child and youth services, and training programmes. In her role, Gina leads the development and delivery of a youth-led programme of regular activities, support and opportunities for young people in the community.

Helen Clark, Pennine Lancashire Community Farm

Helen is the Project Manager at Pennine Lancashire Community Farm, responsible for the delivery of seven core programmes over five community gardens, woodland and farm sites in areas of high deprivation across Burnley, Pendle and Hyndburn. Pennine Lancashire Community Farm uses outdoor space to bring people together, providing education and social care opportunities and improving physical, emotional and economic wellbeing of the people and communities of East Lancashire.

James Anthony George Wilson, Transition North Ronaldsay

Transition North Ronaldsay is a community and eco-oriented CiC based in the Orkney Islands. As Director of the organisation, James is working on many local community projects, including regular litter picks and wildlife identification sessions. Currently, this team is building a community garden food system and a beach plastic recycling centre that serves both the local community and environment.

Julia Wysocka, International Community Organisation of Sunderland (ICOS)

As the Community Development Officer at ICOS, Julia is a key support for local community members, including Black and Asian community members and an Eastern European women’s group. Julia’s work includes housing, employment, skills and confidence building, as well as supporting victims of domestic abuse and hate crime. ICOS provides advice, advocacy and welfare support for recent migrants with limited networks and access to information.

Kate Smyth, Oldham Libraries

Kate is a Library Development Officer for Oldham Libraries, where she works on the Information and Digital Team running family STEM sessions and Science Week projects. Kate is currently launching a new book and activity loan programme, ‘Reading Sparks’ to encourage science engagement in families from lower socio-economic groups, girls and ethnic minority communities.

Lisa Lanfear, Communities For Horses

Lisa is the Welfare Officer at Communities For Horses, organising all events, workshops and training sessions for the organisation. Communities for Horses provides vital support and education to urban communities in South Wales – many of whom do not engage with traditional schooling – through a shared passion for and heritage of working with horses.

Luke Wakefield, VICTA

Luke is the Head of Activities and Strategic Programmes at VICTA, a charity which supports and empowers visually impaired young people across the UK. Luke leads their activity delivery, encouraging these young people to become more independent and confident and build their skills.

Melissa Koontz-Garboden, Serpentine Community Garden

Melissa is Coordinator of the Growing Well programme, a creative wellness scheme which supports people with physical disabilities and mental health issues, at the Serpentine Community Garden. The Garden is a growing space run by volunteers for the people of Buxton and the surrounding area with the aim to grow people and to grow plants.

Mohammed Saiful Islam, Dagenham Bangladeshi Women & Children's Association

Mohammed is the Office Manager at Dagenham Bangladeshi Women & Children’s Association in East London. In this role, Mohammed delivers projects to improve education, increase community cohesion, reduce employment, improve mental and physical health and support other activities that meet the needs of his local community.  

Seonaid Murray, The Black Box, Belfast

Seonaid is the Outreach Officer at The Black Box Belfast, a multi-purpose arts venue in the heart of Belfast. Black Box projects are for and by people with learning disabilities, including monthly discos, weekly arts-based activities and music, global discussion and book club groups.

Tripti Megeri, Bristol Multi Faith Forum

Bristol Multi Faith Forum is an agency for inter-faith and inter-cultural community cohesion and social harmony that promotes the health and wellbeing of all communities in Bristol. Tripti manages and delivers projects for the Forum, working with people in and outside of the Forum in support of the local community.

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 in London, covering such topics 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. Once their training is complete, each Leader will be awarded £1,000 to develop projects for British Science Week 2021 and beyond.  

Previous cohorts

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 

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

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].

Image of first Community Leaders cohort

British Science Association 2021-2 Community Leaders expression of interest guidelines

As part of our ongoing community engagement work, the British Science Association (BSA) runs a Community Leaders programme which is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The aim of the programme is to harness the passion and ideas of individuals who work with traditionally underserved audiences and to enhance their skills to enable them to become leaders of science engagement in their communities. The programme has been a success for the past three years, and the BSA is now pleased to open expressions of interest for the fourth cohort of Community Leaders.

After participating in our Community Leaders programme, we provide leaders with the opportunity to be matched with researchers from their local area through our Community Buddy Programme.

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

We are aiming to recruit and train a group of individuals who are members of our Community Engagement Network and who have previously received a British Science Week (BSW), British Science Festival (BSF) or Community Engagement Network (CEN) Community Grant, i.e. the COVID-19 Innovation Grant or run a British Science Week community science engagement event. These individuals will become ambassadors in their respective regions of the UK. The role will involve establishing long-term science engagement in their community and supporting the BSA in driving collaboration between community groups and the science communication sector.

To prepare you for the role, we will deliver four all-day group training sessions in a mix of in-person sessions at our head office in London and online sessions over Zoom. We will cover the cost of your travel to the in-person sessions. Topics of the training sessions will include, among other things:

  • Building confidence with science
  • Insight into the science communication sector
  • Accessing fundraising opportunities
  • Event programming
  • Public relations and marketing

At the training sessions, leaders will also share their experiences with one another and form their own support network. This is a fantastic opportunity to develop the work that you have already started with your previous BSW/CEN/BSF community grants, as well as to develop your skills and build your networks.

Once you have completed your training, you will automatically be awarded a £1,000 grant to develop your long-term science engagement projects, which must include an event for British Science Week 2022. You will not be eligible for additional funding for BSW 2022 from the BSA (i.e., you cannot also receive a 2022 BSW Community Grant).

Time commitment

Each Community Leader will be required to:

  • Attend four training sessions held at the BSA offices in London (or virtually, depending on COVID-19 restrictions). These will take place on 18 October 2021, 6 December 2021, 24 January 2022 and 28 March 2022. We envisage the first two sessions will be held in London and the following two will be virtual.
  • Plan and run a long-term science engagement project that includes an event during British Science Week 2022 (11-20 March)
  • Take part in an evaluation telephone /virtual interview with an external evaluator

Please be aware that this is an unpaid voluntary opportunity. We hope that with our support and training you will be able to build this role into the work that you are already doing in your communities. All reasonable travel costs to training sessions will be covered by the BSA, and accommodation will be provided if need be. The BSA will also cover reasonable caring costs associated with attending the training sessions.

The BSA is a champion of equality, diversity and inclusion. We are committed to the fair and equal treatment of employees and partners irrespective of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, ex-offending background or any other potentially unlawfully discriminating factor. We recognise the importance of diversity of thought and are fully committed to embracing the talents of people with autism, dyslexia, ADHD and other forms of neurocognitive variation. We also seek to actively support participants’ wellbeing and mental health. Reasonable adjustments to the programme can be made to enable the participation of persons with mental or physical conditions or impairments.

What are the criteria?

Even though this programme is to support individual Leaders, to be eligible you must work for or volunteer with a community-based group or organisation that works directly with audiences who are traditionally underrepresented and currently not engaged in science activity. Our definition of groups that are underrepresented in science includes:

  • people from ethnic minorities
  • people with low socio-economic status, including people disadvantaged in terms of education and income
  • people with a physical or mental condition or impairment
  • people living in a remote and rural location, defined as settlements of less than 10,000 people
  • girls and women.

You also will need to represent an organisation or group that has previously been awarded a BSW, BSF or CEN Community Grant. If you are part of an established organisation or charity, you must have an annual turnover of less than £1,000,000.

Please note that we are aiming to select one participant from each region of the UK. The regions are England (divided into East of England/London/East Midlands/North East/North West/South East/ South West/West Midlands/Yorkshire and the Humber), Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Application process

All applications can be made online via an expression of interest form. On the form we will ask for basic details about you and your work, and a short description (500 words max) about why you would like to take part in the programme.

The deadline has now passed for applications.

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