The Community Led Research Grant is putting communities at the heart of their own research process – inviting them to develop and deliver their own research project – by working with a researcher.

The pilot is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and co-created with the British Science Association, the University of Reading, community partners in Reading and Slough, and communities that are new to or are traditionally underrepresented in research.

A key aim of the Community Led Research Pilot is to support local people and community groups to feel that research and science are more accessible, and to highlight the value communities can bring to research by improving both its quality and relevance. Click here to find out more about the Community Led Research Pilot.

These guidelines provide information for community groups interested in applying for the grant. 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.

If have any questions that aren’t answered in these guidelines, or you need information in different formats, please get in touch [email protected]

You can skip to the following sections:

  1. Information on activity testing
  2. What is the grant and what support is available?
  3. What community groups are eligible to take part?
  4. What type of research project could you run?
  5. How will your community work with a researcher?
  6. What can funding be spent on?
  7. Grant deadlines and key delivery dates 
  8. What questions will be asked in the application form?
  9. Grant selection process – how decisions will be made?
  10. Evaluation – how will we share the learning between the projects?
  11. How to apply
  12. Further context

 If you are a researcher interested in being involved in the scheme, please skip to section 5.

1. Information on activity testing

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

Please visit the activity testing webpage for further information and how to apply. 

Activity Testing webpage

2. What is the Community Led Research Grant and what support is available?

Five grants of up to £9,200 are available starting in October 2023 to October 2024. These grants will support community groups based in Reading and Slough to work with researchers to design 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.

Support available during your project

Guidance on research matching and resources:

  • At least 70% of the grant should go towards community project delivery costs to maximise the benefit of the project to communities, with the remaining funding covering researcher costs and expenses, where applicable.
  • Details of researcher costs can be suggested but not finalised at this stage of the application.
  • Some projects may already have a researcher in mind or have worked with a researcher before. For those that haven't, in October 2023, successful groups will be supported by the BSA and University of Reading to connect with a suitable researcher to work on the project and to develop the project plan and allocation of researcher costs and expenses together.

Grant project delivery support: 

We have found that bringing community research projects together to connect and learn from each other is really valuable. To help with this, we will run “community of practice” workshops/meetings which will provide support and networking between the funded groups and researchers from October 2023 and throughout the grant-funded programme.

  • There will be six community of practice workshops/meetings to support networking, shared learning and if needed provide training for the groups and researchers involved during the grant-funded programme. (No more than half a day each, online and in person). Please see the table in section 7 below for approximate timings.
  • If you are funded, you will be expected to take part in the community of practice meetings, and we encourage you to consider this in your project planning and budget.

3. What community groups are eligible to take part?

We especially want to hear from grassroots communities in Reading and Slough.

To be eligible for a grant, the application must come from a representative of a community group (rather than a researcher). 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. It is not just a project initiated by only one or two people.
  • 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.

4. What type of research project could you run?

A key aim of the Community Led Research Pilot is to support local people and community groups to feel that research and science are more accessible, and to highlight the value communities can bring to research by improving both its quality and relevance.

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

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 give an idea of how a potential theme could turn into a research question, that then forms the basis of a project.

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 includes traditional science subjects as well as social sciences, psychology, sociology, geography, economics, science and the arts. 

5. How will your community group work with a researcher?

Think about what working with a researcher might allow you to do differently, which you couldn’t do otherwise (see question 4 on the application form).

  • Funded projects will be in partnership with a researcher, but you don’t need to have a researcher already in place to be able to apply. If your application is successful, the BSA and University of Reading will help to match you with a suitable researcher for your project/theme in October 2023.
  • Researcher and community group matching for successful projects will happen in October 2023. One-to-one researcher and community group ‘conversations’ will help explore how each community group and researcher can best work together on their projects.
  • If you have worked with a researcher before, or have someone in mind, you can also apply for this grant. For groups without an existing researcher partnership, we’re keen to hear how building a relationship with a researcher might support your community led research project idea.

Projects will be community led, and we expect that knowledge, skills and experience will flow both ways between communities, the researcher, and their organisations. We are looking for projects that have the potential to lead to longer-term community and researcher relationships and generate new knowledge or approaches, rather than projects where researchers carry out research or gather data “on” or “about” rather than with your community.

Project examples of how communities and researchers have worked together

We will not fund projects suggesting only a ‘one-off’ intervention by a researcher (e.g. a single visit or presentation with no follow-up, relationship building or further interaction). Whilst a researcher working in a ‘consultancy’ capacity might be a small element of a project, we're interested in relationships developing over the duration of the project. We’d also like to see how the researcher can learn from the community group in a way that might inform their research in the future.

If you’re a researcher interested in taking part in the pilot, you can find information for researchers here and express your interest in being matched to a successful community group now. Please complete the expression of interest form by 17:00 on 18 September 2023. 



6. What can funding be spent on?

We expect that the majority (70% or more, as a rough guide) of the funding will be spent on community-related project delivery costs to maximise the benefit of the project to communities, with the remaining funding covering researcher costs and expenses. Details of researcher costs can be suggested but not finalised in this stage of the application, and support will be provided to work this out collaboratively once successful projects have been matched with a researcher.

Grant money can be used for:

  • Project-specific staff costs – salaries or fees for people who are essential to the project and whose salaries aren’t already covered by another grant. This can include time to join the Community of Practice workshops.
  • Researcher costs - travel expenses or fees that aren’t covered by another source, such as a university.
  • Materials and equipment that are essential for the project.
  • Travel and subsistence costs.
  • Room hire and catering.
  • Publicity.
  • Speakers and trainers.
  • Reasonable volunteer expenses.
  • Other costs of activities associated with the grant.
  • Overheads for the community group – these can only account for a maximum of 10% of your grant. These are the indirect expenses of running your project, sometimes called “core costs”.

The grant cannot be spent on:

  • Single-use (i.e. disposable) items. Keep in mind sustainability in your project planning.
  • Costs incurred before your proposed project starts.
  • Activities/partnerships outside the UK.
  • Emergency, top-up or maintenance funding.
  • Loans, investments or capital costs.
  • Delivery of frontline services, such as healthcare services or interventions.

We will be looking for a ‘headline budget’ in the application form, so you don’t need to provide exact costs at this stage if that isn’t possible. We just require an overview of the types of costs you anticipate will be associated with the project.

There will be an opportunity to revise your final budget with your researcher and with the support of the BSA and the local teams in Reading and Slough, before the start of the project.

Please note, the evaluation will be coordinated and supported by the BSA, so you do not have to include the costs of evaluation within your proposed budget.

7. Grant deadlines and delivery dates

Deadline for Community Led Research Project grant applications - submit form by 17:00

18 September 2023

Grants confirmed

Mid-October 2023

Researcher/group ‘matching’

6 - 16 November 2023

Projects begin

End of November 2023

In-person Community of Practice workshop

Early December 2023

In-person Community of Practice workshop

January 2024

Online Community of Practice workshop

March 2024

In-person Community of Practice workshop

May 2024

Online Community of Practice workshop

July 2024

In-person Community of Practice workshop

September/October 2024

Projects completed

31 October 2024


November/December 2024

End of project celebration, sharing findings and the evaluation report

February/March 2025

  • All successful applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by the middle of October. If successful, payment of the grant will be made directly into the nominated bank account.
  • Activities should be completed by 31 October 2024. We cannot fund activities that take place beyond this time.
  • We do not recommend you start any project delivery in advance of knowing the outcome of your application if you require funding to do this. Please note that the BSA is not liable for any lost deposits or payments if your grant application is unsuccessful.

8. What questions will be asked in the application form?

Below is a summary of the grant application form, which should be filled out by a member of the community group/group leader (not a researcher). A PDF of all the application form questions is available here.

If you need further support at any stage in writing and submitting your online application email: [email protected].

Please make sure you address the questions fully. Some questions have a maximum number of words you can use in your answer. These are only a guide, you do not have to write to the maximum word count if it is not necessary.

*Indicates a compulsory field.

You will be asked to provide the following information in your application:

Your details

  • First name *
  • Surname*
  • Job title or role* 
  • Preferred Email*         
  • Preferred Phone* 
  • In the event we are unable to reach you on your preferred email and phone number, can you please provide an alternative email to reach you or your organisation?

Details of your organisation/group

  • Organisation name* check box for bullets
  • Charity number (if applicable)
  • Company number (if applicable)

Your address

  • Address Type* (Organisation address OR Home address)
  • Address line 1*
  • County*
  • Postcode*

Further information

  • Have you applied for a BSA grant before?*
  • If yes: Which grants/programmes have you applied for?
  • Would your organisation like to join the British Science Association's Community Engagement Network?*

Q1) Organisation Group type*. Please choose the category that best describes your organisation. If you are a constituted group, please choose 'charity' from the categories below. 

Charity, Company, Foundation Trust, Local Authority, NHS Hospital, Non constituted community group, Social enterprise (including CICs and co-operatives), None of the above.

Q2) Work of your organisation or group*Please choose the category that best describes the main focus of your organisation's work.

Arts Culture, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), Community Centre, Community Services – mental health, physical health and wellbeing, Environmental Group/Community Garden, Faith/Religious Group/Organisation, Housing Support, LGBTQA+ support, Men’s support, Mental or learning disability, difficulty or neurodiversity support, Older people, Physical disability and impairment support, Race/ethnicity support, Refugee/asylum seeker/migrant support, Supplementary school/home schooling, Support services – rehabilitation and recovery, Support services – social care, Women’s support, Youth services.

Q3) Organisation/group description: Please describe your organisation, including your participants/community members.* (max 200 words)

Q4) Who does your organisation work with and who will your project reach?*
You can select more than one group, but please only select groups that your organisation actively engages. We are looking for organisations that engage with people who are traditionally underrepresented in science and research:

  • 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.

 Q4a) Your location*. We will be funding projects in the following geographical areas:

  • Reading
  • Slough

Q5) Project description: Briefly explain how you would like your Community Led Research Project to work* (max 600 words)

Tips for your project description:

  • Include your research theme and the question you aim to answer through your project
  • How will it respond to a local community interest or priority and why is your project important?
  • Are you working with any partner or supporting organisation/s?
  • Can you give us a rough idea of how long your project will run?
  • Please share a key learning from any testing activity you have carried out and how has it helped shape your research project plan.
  • What are the strengths, skills and knowledge that you will bring to the community led research project?

This does not need to be a complete, fully formed project description, but an overall idea of what form the project will take and how it will run. You can also reference other work/projects you have done before, if relevant.

Q6) Tell us more about the community/communities you will work with, and how this topic is relevant/important to them?* (max 200 words)

Tips for telling us about working with your communities:

  • This section will tell us about the wider community you will involve
  • How people will take part? e.g. How will they share their experience or insight, and be involved in activities and decision-making?
  • Are there any barriers to address?
  • How you will know your idea is important to the wider community? 

Q7) What could collaborating with a researcher bring to your project that you couldn’t do otherwise?* (max 300 words)

Tips for working with a researcher:

For example, researchers could...

  • Share knowledge about the topic or theme your project focuses on
  • Help you think about your project will address the research question
  • Share new practices, innovations or technologies
  • Help consult/design an activity
  • Provide training in research or evaluation methods
  • Help you make sense of / analyse data.

Note, we will not fund projects suggesting only a ‘one-off’ intervention with a researcher, e.g. a single visit with no follow-up, relationship building or further interaction.

Q7a) Are you already working with a researcher?*

If no, please tell us how might you work with a researcher?* (max 400 words)

  • What benefit could a researcher bring to your project?
  • What benefit might they gain from working with you?
  • What knowledge, experience and/or skills might be useful to your community?

If yes, please add details of who this is, what existing work you have done (if any) and how this opportunity might build on this?* (max 400 words)

Q8) Project timelinePlease provide an approximate date(s) and a timeline of your activities. We recognise these may change/be updated.

Q9) How will you know your project went well?* [Please note that the evaluation will be coordinated and supported by the BSA] (max 200 words)

Tips for knowing how your project went well: 

  • What do you hope to happen by the end of the project to make it a success?
  • What might be different as a result?
  • How do you hope to learn or benefit from connecting with the researcher(s) and other projects in the network?
  • Through your research question, what new knowledge will the project generate?
  • What would you like to do with the findings from your project? For example, what impact do you hope the research might have?

Q10) Evaluation and sharing of the learning during the project. I agree to take part in the ‘Community of Practice’ meetings and evaluation* 

We will provide support and networking between the groups holding six “community of practice” workshops and meetings during the project to:

  • Share insights between communities and researchers, bringing together community groups and researchers from Reading and Slough
  • Provide specific training opportunities and support as needed
  • Evaluate the impact of projects through phone interviews with an external evaluator
  • Share stories throughout the projects, for example using photos, videos, and written reflections.

The data from this evaluation will be used to measure the impact of this programme in reports and stories shared on the BSA website, with our partners and our funder, UKRI.

Q11) Your budget. Using the table in the application form, please provide an outline of budget costs associated with your Community Led Research Project and how the grant funding will be used.*

Please note the following when creating your budget:

  • Your budget cannot exceed the total grant amount of £9,200
  • Headline budget: we are not looking for a detailed budget at this stage, only headline items. We are mainly interested in knowing the types of costs you are likely to have for this project.
  • There will be time and support to help you revise your budget if you are successful, once you are matched with a researcher.
  • You do not need to include researcher costs in your budget (if you are not already working with someone), but we suggest each project allocate up to 30% of the budget to researcher costs.
  • Evaluation will be coordinated by the BSA. You do not have to include evaluation costs within your proposed budget.

Q11A) Any other budget information we should know?*

Please add notes to your budget (outlined above). Especially if you are using match funding, in-kind support or any other relevant information. (max 100 words)

Q12) Your financial information*

We ask for your financial details to pay the grant into your organisation's bank account if you are successful. If you are unsuccessful we will delete financial data after a year. Please read the BSA Privacy Policy for more details.

Details for remittance advice (payment information)

Please select:* 

  • Bank 
  • Building Society

Contact for remittance advice

Is your finance contact the same as the primary contact of this application?:* 

  • Yes
  • No      

If no is selected, main finance contact:

First name*                      Last name*

Email*                              Phone*

Bank account details

Details of the bank account which the grant will be paid into at the time of applying for the grant, including the account name, number and sort code.

This should ideally be a bank registered with the community group making the application. If your group does not have a bank account in its name, grants can be paid to a personal bank account, though please note that we will ask for receipts for how the money was spent if using a personal bank account. If you have questions about this please contact: [email protected]

Financial information is stored on a secure cloud-based service and will only be used to pay successful grant applicants. Unused details will be deleted. Providing your account details at this stage allows us to pay successful grant applicants immediately, making it easier to start planning your projects.

Please note, if the bank details supplied in your application are incorrect, this will significantly delay the payment of your grant and may result in the grant being withdrawn. Please ensure that you have the correct bank account details before applying.

As part of our grant due diligence process, we confirm the bank details of some grant recipients. If you receive an email requesting confirmation, we will ask you to respond and confirm your bank details within 5 working days.

9. Grant selection process – how decisions will be made?

We will be specifically seeking a diverse selection of groups and projects across Slough and Reading including different topics, different sizes and types of community groups involved. We will prioritise applications from groups that are currently underrepresented in science, and research, as defined for this programme.

The fund will be assessed by a community panel, including but not limited to people working with underrepresented groups in Reading and Slough.

Applications will be judged specifically on:

  • How the research project will be community led and support participants to take part in the research
  • How the research project may benefit the wider community and researcher.
  • Evidence of wider community need, interest and ‘buy-in’ for the project – how does the project develop from grassroots community involvement rather than being “top-down” from an individual or single organisation?
  • How the researcher will be (potentially) embedded in the project and add value (e.g. the specific project couldn’t happen without the researcher element and there is a mutual benefit).
  • The range of projects being funded.

10. Evaluation – how will we share the learning between the projects?

We will facilitate bringing together community groups and researchers from the five grant-funded projects. There may also be further training which can be tailored to the needs of  your group and community for example:

  • Outreach, engagement and stakeholder mapping
  • Partnership working and community facilitation
  • Data protection, ethics and confidentiality
  • Participatory action research methods and listening skills.

We will also be learning and evaluating as we go along by capturing feedback from the workshops, using participant feedback forms and conducting interviews and group discussions to learn more about your experience. We will document your projects informally, such as through photographs or film, to enable us to share your experiences with the wider sector. These activities will be coordinated by the BSA and our Learning and Evaluation Partner, The Social Change Agency, so you do not have to include costs for evaluation within your proposed budget.

11. How to apply

All applications should be submitted online via the grant application form by 17.00 on Monday 18 September 2023.

Application form

A PDF of all the application form questions is available here. When completing the application form, please check all email addresses, telephone numbers and bank account details given are correct. Any mistakes will delay the payment of the grant. As we will communicate with you primarily by email, please ensure you give an email address that is checked regularly by the person who applies for the grant.

We understand that this type of community led research may be a new experience or different to your usual work. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of your ideas before you submit the application.

The University of Reading, Slough CVS and RVA will be available locally to provide specific support. Please do contact the BSA team if you have any questions, or require support regarding the application process: [email protected].

Good luck with your application!

12. Further context

The British Science Association’s (BSA) vision is a future where science is more relevant, representative, and connected to society. Science is more than a body of research, people working in a lab or even the wider industry that surrounds that. It’s also a way of asking questions, making decisions, and understanding the world. We believe that science is a tool that everyone could and should be able to use and for us to grow as a society, it’s essential we all do.

This is a new type of programme, funded by UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) to support diverse communities to connect with researchers to inform community action and use research to respond to local priorities. UKRI’s vision is for an outstanding research and innovation system in the UK that gives everyone the opportunity to contribute and to benefit, enriching lives locally, nationally and internationally. Through support and funding for community-led approaches to public engagement, UKRI wants to enable communities across the UK - particularly those that are underrepresented - to play an active role in research and innovation.

For more information, please visit:

Terms and conditions

Frequently asked questions 

Visit the Community Led Research Pilot main webpage