Job details

Job title: Head of Grants Programme*

Reporting to: Gill Riches, Director (with regular reporting to the chief executive)

Responsible for: Grants Managers (up to 1.5 FTE) & Grants Officers (up to 1.5 FTE)

Based: British Science Association, Wellcome Wolfson Building, 165 Queen's Gate, London SW7 5HD

Terms: Permanent, full-time. Requests for flexible working and secondments will be considered 

Salary: This role is in the range: £36,934 to £47,022 p.a.

(*working title) 


The British Science Association (BSA) is a charity whose vision is for science to be seen as a fundamental part of culture and society. We work with public, educational and stakeholder audiences to change their relationship to science.

We are seeking someone to design, launch and lead a brand-new programme to support individuals and organisations across the UK to engage public audiences with health research. This is an exciting opportunity to make a significant difference, building on existing good practice and bringing in new voices and communities to make a step-change to public engagement with health research.

We recognise that in UK society, access to health research and its benefits is not universal. With this new programme, we want to help create a future where more people will:  

  • Be more empowered to engage in consultation and research, which can then improve the quality of that research;
  • Be better equipped to interact with health researchers or people in allied careers on topics they’re interested in;
  • Be more supportive and trusting of research about health.

The new programme will support people and organisations to identify and act on areas of health research that can be shaped or used by the UK public. It will be funded by the Wellcome Trust for up to 2.5 years in the first instance.

The programme will help to build and support collaborations that use, influence or grow public trust in health research by bringing new voices into health research engagement (e.g. through incubator programmes), supporting existing health engagement practitioners who don’t have access to the communities they want to reach, and enabling people who are engaged in social change with communities but don’t have skills or resources in health engagement.

The programme will support collaborations that use, influence or grow public trust in health research by:

  • Creating and testing new ways of achieving outcomes through people engaging with health research and its benefits.
  • Providing insights into how health research can be more responsive to people’s needs and interests.
  • Forging new and growing existing relationships between people and health research.
  • Exploring how intermediaries and community leaders can bring innovation to health engagement.

You will have considerable creative freedom to design, test and develop new ways of working. You will be a visible and influential leader who develops strong relationships with stakeholders and with the individuals who could or do apply for grants.

This is an excellent opportunity for someone with considerable experience in managing and developing public engagement to use their vision and knowledge to create a bigger change. It would also suit someone with experience of building a team and a programme outside our sector who could bring a fresh perspective.

    Key responsibilities 

    The main responsibilities of this role are to:

    • Develop a vision and strategy for the new programme.
    • Liaise with key stakeholders to generate buy-in and, longer-term, build links with other potential partners and funders to ensure the new programme’s sustainability.
    • Act as a visible and responsive leader among the funding and public engagement sectors.
    • Pro-actively generate interest in the programme among potential applicants, particularly those with limited experience of the public engagement sector.
    • Champion and support innovation.
    • Recruit, manage and develop the team of Grants Managers and Grants Officers.
    • Commission excellent services that support the programme including design, grant administration, branding & communications, and data management.
    • Design excellent processes for evaluation, grant management, and selection (including peer
    • Plan and manage the programme budget, in line with the BSA’s financial controls and policies, to ensure the programme delivers value for money.
    • Ensure the programme complies with relevant finance, data & charity legislation and good practice to maximise transparency & trust.
    • Liaise with internal delivery partners including the Senior Management Team, Finance team, Head of Communications (and wider Communications team).

    In addition, the post-holder will be expected to:

    • Support colleagues across the organisation especially at busy times or on specific areas of expertise.
    • Other duties as reasonably required by the line manager.

    Key working relationships

    The post holder will be expected to liaise with a wide range of parties, but is likely to develop
    significant working relationships with the following people:

    • The funder and other trusts and foundations
    • Key influencers and leaders in the public engagement with health/science sectors
    • Senior colleagues at the BSA

    About you

    Person specification


    • Demonstrable experience of leadership and influencing, including experience of
      communicating with high-level stakeholders
    • Several years’ experience of managing and motivating teams to achieve successful outcomes
    • Evidence of ability to successfully design and manage projects and programmes
    • Extensive experience of one or more of: science engagement; health engagement; grantmaking
    • A deep understanding of the challenges and barriers facing social innovators and science/health research communicators
    • A vision for innovating within the health engagement sector and a passion for creating lasting social change
    • Experience of working with local community organisations or charities
    • Track record of designing successful programmes or organisations that benefit disadvantaged or under-represented groups or individuals
    • Experience of designing and improving effective, user-centred systems and processes
    • Experience of devising and managing budgets, and delivering value for money
    • Resilience – ability to remain calm and effective when working on fast-moving, high pressure projects
    • A good team player with a positive and flexible approach to work
    • A self-starter, able to work on their own initiative and manage their own time effectively
    • An understanding of the BSA’s goals and enthusiasm for our vision.


    • Experience of relational grants programmes, and/or grants for social change
    • Experience of launching new initiatives, setting up new teams, projects or organisations
    • Lived experience or characteristics that reflect one or more communities who are currently under-represented in health research


    Employees at the British Science Association enjoy 27 days’ annual leave (pro rata), auto enrolment
    pension scheme, death in service insurance from day 1, homeworking Wednesdays (subject to the
    needs of the organisation), interest free loan (for season ticket, bike to work, assisted study),
    corporate membership rate at Imperial College sports centre, up to 2 days paid leave for voluntary
    commitments and opportunities for learning and development.

    To apply

    To apply for this role, please send a CV (no more than two A4 pages) and covering letter (no more than one A4 page) that summarises your interest in the post and details your ability to match the criteria outlined above.

    Applications should be made via this link:

    The closing date for applications is 9am, Monday 10 February 2020. Interviews are due to take place on 18 and 19 February 2020.

    You will be informed as soon as possible after the application deadline whether you have been selected for interview.

    If you require adjustments during the application process, or have any particular access or other requirements, please contact [email protected].

    The British Science Association is committed to equal opportunities and values diversity in our workforce.

    Terms and conditions

    From time to time the job entails working extended hours and occasional weekends, for which no overtime payments are made. However, the Association does operate a time off in lieu policy.

    The British Science Association is an equal opportunities employer  and is committed to diversity. We are committed to the fair and equal treatment of potential and existing employees 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 aim to recruit the person most suited to the job and welcome applications from candidates from all backgrounds.

    We would particularly welcome applications from communities who are currently underrepresented in our staff team, which includes people from minority ethnic groups or lower-income backgrounds, people without formal academic qualifications, disabled people and men.

    Only applicants who have a legal right to work within the UK will be considered. You will be asked to bring along proof of nationality and/or proof of ability to work in the UK. You may also be asked to declare any previous convictions in line with your rights under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) order 1975.

    This is a description of the job as it is presently constituted. It is the practice of the Association to examine job descriptions from time to time and to update them to ensure they relate to the job as then being performed, or to incorporate whatever changes are reasonably required, in discussion with the postholder.

    A copy of our Privacy Notice is available on the vacancies page of our website.

    You can download the Job Description and Person Specification as a pdf here.