Each year, as part of the British Science Festival, the British Science Association (BSA) runs the British Science Festival Community Grants programme.

We believe local community organisations should be able to engage with the Festival – and science – on their own terms and in their own space. To enable this, we offer £500 grants for community groups working directly with audiences who are traditionally under-represented and currently not engaged in science activities to hold their own events during the week of the Festival.

This year, the grants have been awarded to seven community groups based in Chelmsford, Essex, where this year’s British Science Festival will be hosted. Their events will be targeted at different audiences including those with long-term health conditions, people who are recovering from alcohol and drug addictions, and people from minority ethnic communities.

We are excited to share more about each community group and their British Science Festival events:

City of Chelmsford Mencap

City of Chelmsford Mencap supports families, carers and people with learning disabilities through education, social opportunities and specialist advice. Working with Anglia Ruskin University researcher, Olivia Norfolk, the Mencap students have been learning all about biodiversity and sustainable gardening, including how to support their local pollinators. They have surveyed the pollinators who visit their garden allotment and are now challenging themselves to improve their pollinator counts by the time British Science Festival 2021 comes around!

Ace Music Therapy

Ace Music Therapy CIC is a social enterprise based in Chelmsford that provides music therapy and community music services to people of all ages and abilities. For the British Science Festival, Ace Music Therapy will provide a special class for local people who are experiencing chronic health conditions. This session, called ‘Rhythmic Breath’, will explore the science behind how breath work and music can help people with the psychological and physical effects of their conditions—with a chance to learn these techniques and practice in a supportive space.

Essex Multicultural Activity Network

Essex Multicultural Activity Network (EMAN) supports and empowers Black and Minority communities in Essex through developing skills and providing opportunities to overcome social isolation, with a special focus on South Asian communities. EMAN will run a one-day textile workshop during the British Science Festival that will bring together one of their local women’s groups to explore the materials and maths involved in textile making. While developing their textile projects, they will dive into the physical qualities and sustainability of their fabrics, as well as the maths behind their pattern-work.

Ideas Hub Chelmsford

The Ideas Hub Chelmsford aims to support the wellbeing of Chelmsford residents through mental health, fulfillment and belonging. One of their projects is ‘supported volunteering’, supporting people with a range of challenges—such as mental health conditions, alcohol and drug recovery, and time on probation—to participate in local volunteer opportunities. For this event, supported volunteers and their families will walk through a local Chelmsford park to learn how to identify nature, including flowers, trees, berries and birds. They will also collect blackberries to turn into jam!

Essex Steam Factory

Essex Steam Factory runs science, technology, education, arts and math activities with local Essex and Chelmsford community groups. For the British Science Festival, they will run a series of three workshops with their established community connections to show how creative science can be, creating animations with coding in Scratch, music with Sonic Pi, and an interactive gesture-based musical instrument with a Microbit glove.

Chelmsford Arts and Cultural Festival

The Chelmsford Arts and Cultural Festival will work with a group of 15 young people facing socioeconomic difficulties to learn new skills using digital platforms and technologies. First established to bring more arts and culture to the people of Chelmsford, the Cultural Festival will work with these young people to explore how to digitalise art, expanding their digital and creative skills.

Hamptons Sports and Leisure

Hamptons Sports and Leisure is a community centre that has served the people of Chelmsford for decades. For the British Science Festival, they will hold a special science fair to demonstrate science experiments and give their young adults, including those from Black and Asian communities and those facing socioeconomic difficulties, an opportunity to get hands-on with science after a year of social restrictions. This science fair will include testing food for protein, sugars and lipids, testing the pH levels of different substances, and even looking at cheek cells under a microscope.

Chelmsford LGBTQ+

Chelmsford LGBTQ+ is a community-grown network that supports the LGBTQ+ residents of Chelmsford to gather and share experiences. For the British Science Festival, the group will host three highly requested talks and workshops on gender and gender expression, historical gay figures in the arts and sciences and the biology of being intersex.   

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

The British Science Festival 2021 is taking place between Tuesday 7 – Saturday 11 September in Chelmsford. Hosted by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), the British Science Festival 2021 offers over 100 events celebrating the people, stories and ideas behind the science. Book your free tickets here.