The Community Led Research Pilot is putting communities at the heart of their own research process by inviting them to develop and deliver their own research project – working alongside a researcher. To find out more about the Community Led Research Pilot, visit the webpage.  

To find out more about the Community Led Research grant, visit the full guidelines here

Please note, this is a closed application process. The grant is only open to communities who have already been involved in the initial outreach stages of the programme.

In the following Frequently Asked Questions, the term ‘you’ refers to community groups, and ‘we’ refers to the BSA and other partners working on the project.

You can skip to the following sections:

Community Led Research Pilot overview

What are the aims of the Community Led Research Pilot? 

The Community Led Research Pilot is set up to support communities in creating their own research project, exploring themes, local issues, or ideas that matter to them at a local level in Reading and Slough. 

We aim to: 

  • Tap into the unique insights that communities can provide about the work, places, activities, and themes that matter to them;
  • Explore issues and decide on a research focus that could lead to a funded community research project;
  • Ensure the research projects have some element of wider community benefit or engagement beyond the individual group; 
  • Highlight the value communities can bring to research; 
  • And support local people and community groups to feel that research and science are more accessible.

What are the steps to take part in the Community Led Research Pilot? 

May - June 2023

Developing themes into research project ideas

  • Two online grant webinars will be held (one focused on Reading, one on Slough) to introduce the application forms and online resources to support activity testing (June to August) ahead of the full research grant application process.
  • Community groups explore and develop the research question/s or project ideas they want to answer and explore through their project.

July – September

Activity testing and developing a research project idea

  • Approximately 10-12 community groups, (supported by our local teams in Reading and Slough) will design and test out their research project ideas before applying for a grant.
  • Small pots of funding are available to run taster activities to ‘test out’ how community groups might run their research project and explore community appetite to take part. For more information on this, visit our tester activity guidelines.
  • After activity testing is completed by 14 August, sommunity groups may decide to submit their research project proposal for grant funding via the online application form before 17:00 on Monday 18 September 2023.

October 2023 – October 2024

Delivery of the research projects

  • Five grants of up to £9,200 will be offered to support community groups to carry out their research project.
  • The five successful research projects will be announced in mid-October and matched with a relevant researcher.

Who can take part? 

This is an opportunity for grassroots communities in Reading and Slough. 

Groups must be community-based and work with people who are traditionally underrepresented in research, including:​ 

  • people from minority ethnic groups;​
  • communities living on low incomes;​
  • those experiencing inequalities in accessing education and work; and​
  • people who are neurodiverse or are considered to have a disability.

Things to consider as a group or organisation before you apply. You will need to have the following: 

  • A Community group leader or a key person who can lead the grant and research project delivery for their group and ensure they have the support of their group including key decision makers.
  • Identified ideas or themes that can be developed into questions for a research project. 
  • Possibility of wider engagement with community members/participants
  • Be a Grassroots community organisation rather than an activity provider or service provider.
  • Interest in and have the capacity* to possibly run your own research project. 

*This should include having a person/people who are able to take a lead within a group, as well as enough experience in community engagement to run a project, even if there is no prior experience in research. 

Opportunity to test your research project idea

Is there an opportunity to test out my idea before applying for a full research project grant?

Before you apply for the full Community Led Research project grant, there is tester activity funding and support available to run activities to test out your project idea and help with the Community Led Research grant application process.

From June to September 2023, our local teams in Reading and Slough can provide support to help you test out your project idea in a small way: 

  1. Between June-August, community groups can run some activities to test out a possible research project idea to see if there is community interest to run a research project and explore how your group might run it. We have small pots of between £500-£2,000 available to support the ‘tester’ project activity. 

To apply for this support please complete this form

  1. After testing out your project idea, some groups may decide to put in an application for the full Community Led Research Grant.

If you have any questions about how to get support to test out your project idea please contact: [email protected]  

What will the test funding money cover?

The amount needed (between £500 and £2,000) for the tester activity will be decided on a case-by-case basis for each community group. This could be to help fund:

  • Activities to test out your research project idea before you write an application;
  • Explore community interest and appetite in a potential research project;
  • Provide some time and opportunity for community leaders/key persons in your group to support/test this activity out.

More details about the next stage of the pilot: Applying for the research project grant

What funding is available for the full Community Led Research Grant?

Five grants of up to £9,200 are available to fund five community led research projects starting in October 2023 to October 2024. The grant will support community groups based in Reading and Slough to work with researchers on designing local research around themes, ideas, and questions that are important to their communities.

Projects should address a particular research question – they can be a new idea, or build on existing work by the community, with a broad link to science and would benefit from working with a researcher.

What sort of community research projects will be funded?

Community led research puts communities in the ‘driving seat’ – allowing communities to develop their own research questions and decide what the focus will be.  

You don’t need a fully formed project at this stage to be able to apply although your research project or activity idea should reflect themes and explore a research question that matters to your community and has a broad link to science.  

For inspiration, below are some examples of different types of community led research projects/activities: 
Browse Community led research project examples here 
These are only examples but should help to give you an idea of what a potential theme that could turn into a question for a research project could look like. The examples show how the community groups have worked with a researcher, and how their projects link to science. You’ll be able to see that our definition of science is broad and could include traditional science subjects as well as social sciences, psychology, sociology, geography, economics, science, and the arts.   

Do you need to have research experience? 

No, you don’t need to have experience in research projects. If you decide to apply for research project funding, we will help you explore what skills are needed. We will also provide support to help you explore how you might work with a researcher on the project idea/theme or research project question you want to explore.  

What role will the researcher play? 

The aim is that the researcher will respond to, and will work alongside the community, bringing in their expertise to support and develop the idea/project/activity. This is not about a 'one off' consultancy or advisory role, but an ongoing community research collaboration.

We will match researchers to community research projects in mid-October 2023. 

For researchers interested in taking part, please visit our researcher information page.


How do we complete the application for the Community Led Research Project grant?

The deadline for grant applications for the community led research projects is 18 September 2023, with projects expected to begin from October 2023 onwards.

The link to the application form can be found on our grant guidance webpage, alongside detailed information to help you complete it.

Community Led Research Pilot Grant Guidelines

Our group/community isn’t part of a formal structure. Can we still take part? 

You don’t need a formal structure to take part. Informal groups (without a bank account), constituted groups, charities, Community Interest Companies (CIC), and social enterprises can also take part. 

The benefits for community groups to take part

What’s the benefit for me, my group, or community to take part?

  • There are small pots of funding available to support you to develop a research project proposal before you submit your application for the full grant.
  • This is an opportunity to represent the views of those who aren’t always represented in research, and to develop and run your own research project. 
  • You will work alongside university researchers to explore what tools and methods you can use to strengthen your project idea. 
  • The pilot is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and we hope this will inform more opportunities and funding for projects like this. 

What will be the result or impact of the research? 

As projects will be community led, the impact will depend on each individual project’s aims. 

Some projects can create a change or bring attention to important issues that matter to your community. This is the sort of thing we hope will happen as a result of taking part. 

There may also be opportunities for us to link with local stakeholders and decision makers to share the findings.  

The projects taken forward for research will mean that large organisations will be hearing from communities that they usually do not hear from. The partners will create a final evaluation report and use other ways to share learning and stories from the communities taking part. This will then hopefully impact and shape future research projects and the funding provided for them. We will be sharing feedback throughout. 

Definitions of the words and phrases used

What is research?

Research is the careful, detailed, and rigorous exploration or investigation of an idea or problem to create new knowledge or ways of doing things.

What is community led research?  

Community led research is where a community decides on the research topic to be explored, designs and carries out the research, and uses the findings to make local change happen. Although communities are in the driving seat, they will be supported by community and university researchers during each stage. 

What is a grassroots community?

This could be any group of individuals sharing experiences, characteristics, interests, or needs (for this grant specifically, within Reading and Slough). The community does not need to be a formal group or organisation and applications can be made by an individual.

Who is a community member or leader? 

To apply for a grant, you will need to have an established relationship with individuals from a community. You will have access to the community and have built-up trust with its members, often – but not always – through being actively involved yourself. 

What is meant by ‘underrepresented groups’?

We are aware that there are barriers to participation in research and so are wanting to prioritise and support groups that are not strongly represented in this kind of work. For the purpose of this grant, we are focusing on the following:

  • people from minority ethnic groups;​
  • communities living on low incomes;​
  • those experiencing inequalities in accessing education and work; and​
  • people who are neurodiverse or are considered to have a disability.

We recognise that these experiences often intersect with wider underrepresentation and that people can face multiple challenges or barriers to participation. We are also aware that this terminology does not always reflect how people choose to self-identify. We welcome inquiries from groups who consider themselves as facing a specific barrier to inclusion on their own terms.

What do you mean by research proposal?

A research proposal outlines the following: 

  • What you plan to research;
  • Your approach, including the questions/activities your research will explore;
  • Why the idea/theme/issue you want to research is important, how you will reach your wider community, and why it is relevant to them as well as your group;
  • How you plan to carry out the project including a timeline for activity and engagement. We’d also like to know more about the types of activities or tools that you might use in the ‘finding out’ phase of the research. These might include some familiar research methods like interviews or photo diaries with community members or more creative activities using art, music, dance, games, walkalongs, or digital tasks.  

The above will be covered when applying for funding for the Community Led Research Grant by answering the application form questions.

What is a researcher or research professional?

A research professional could be someone currently working in a university, the NHS, or for a health charity or social enterprise, or they could be an independent expert. They will have a record of carrying out and publishing research.

The partners involved in the Community Led Research Pilot

Who is running the Community Led Research Pilot?

The Community Led Research Pilot is a partnership between the British Science Association, the University of Reading, Reading Voluntary Action, Slough Council for Voluntary Services, and the Social Change Agency. It is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).  

  • Community Partner(s) in Reading and Slough: Reading Voluntary Action(RVA) and Slough Community Voluntary Services (SCVS) to provide outreach support to recruit Community Researchers and engage communities with the pilot. Our five Community Researchers have now been selected.
  • A Training Partner: Cobra Collective to design, deliver and manage a training and development programme throughout the pilot
  • A Learning and Evaluation Partner: The Social Change Agency to design and deliver a learning programme and evaluate the pilot.

There are five Community Researchers and five Early Career Researchers working together as a local team, supported by the University of Reading and the British Science Association to work with communities to explore how they can link to science and research.  

What are Community Researchers and Early Career Researchers? 

  • Community Researchers are local community members who want to learn more about working with communities and researchers. They facilitate outreach sessions and help groups explore possible ideas for research. 

  • Early Career Researchers – are PhD students or post-doctorate researchers from different departments at the University of Reading who are keen to learn more about community engagement, as well as provide research advice and support.

Is your question unanswered?

Get in touch at [email protected].

For more information please visit:

Community Led Research Pilot: Grant guidelines 

More information about the Community Led Research Grant 

Visit the Community Led Research Pilot main webpage