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

The programme, supported by funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), recruits individuals who work with underserved audiences to become ambassadors for science engagement across the UK. Community Leaders are champions of their communities and the communities’ needs. This is why we believe they are best suited to deliver impactful science engagement that will truly make a difference.

Meet our latest Community Leaders:

Elisabeth Von Hagel Stevenson, The Rockfield Centre

The Rockfield Centre is a community centre in Oban, Scotland 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 Company Interest Company based in the Orkney Islands. As Director of the organisation, James works 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 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. 

You can follow the Community Leaders’ journeys - the lows, highs and everything in between over the next year, through the BSA’s blog, where we will be posting updates regularly.

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 2022 and beyond.  

Below is some feedback from one of the 2020-2021 Leaders on the programme:

It was such a boost to have that network of people to bounce ideas off and it did enthuse me and leave me really, really encouraged…The overwhelming feeling going away was one of that sense of community

         Amar Azam, Unleashing Potential

For more information about the work the BSA does to support and engage with community groups, please visit our Community Engagement page and follow BSA Communities on Twitter

If you are part of an organisation or community group that reaches underserved audiences, stay up to date with all our community programmes by joining our Community Engagement Network.