The British Science Association (BSA) is looking for researchers to take part in our Community Buddies Programme, connecting with Community Leaders to drive innovative community-led science engagement. If you are from one of the areas listed below and are interested in being involved, please get in touch via the expression of interest form.


The BSA’s Community Engagement Team has been training, connecting, and working with community organisers for the past eight years. More recently, we furthered our offer with the creation of the Community Buddies Programme, which connects our Community Leaders with local researchers.

The programme grew in response to community organisers’ interest to partner with local science role models who can help develop their engagement activities and offer insights into research. Despite this growing appetite to work collaboratively, they told us that they rarely have access to researchers. The Community Buddies Programme was created to bridge that gap. Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the programme aims to spark new ideas and drive innovative community-led science engagement in the process.

Trying to get in touch with someone in a university is a minefield.[…] Most of the contact details on university websites are to apply. So, I feel like I wouldn’t really know my way in, if I didn’t have Bridie [Community Buddy Researcher]. I’d probably go round and round the houses before I even got to anyone that was probably useful for me to talk to. 

- Community Buddy 2022 (Leader)

The programme aims to:

  • Create greater empathy and understanding between researchers and communities; 
  • Support researchers and communities to create authentic, mutually beneficial relationships with equal sharing of power;
  • Increase the skills and capabilities of both researchers and communities to engage with each other.

The Buddy Programme taught me a lot about how to engage different age groups when developing public engagement events and that there are always ways to work together with community groups, even if initially the link between you and them isnt obvious.

What are the benefits?

Researchers that have participated have said they found the Community Buddies Programme gave them:

  • Understanding, insight, and connection with their local communities;
  • Increased skills and capabilities to develop long-term engagement and impact projects linked to their research;
  • Fresh perspectives and ideas for their work as a researcher;
  • Authentic, mutually beneficial relationships;
  • Innovative collaborations that benefited both the local community and their research;
  • Access to new networks and opportunities from the BSA.

For those that build positive pairings, there is the opportunity to then apply for project funding. Read more about the grant phase of the Community Buddies Programme on our website.

Community Buddies grant phase

 I got a lot more from it. This is more outreach which is going to be more beneficial and potentially life changing for the young people. […] There’s a lot more personal investment in it.

- Community Buddy 2022 (Researcher)

What’s involved?

To be part of the programme, you should:

  • Live locally to one of our 2023-24 Community Leaders (see below for the list of areas);
  • Be an active researcher linked to a university or research institution or working freelance (please note that time is not covered during the relational phase of the programme, but can be covered as part of the grant phase);
  • Attend one half-day online introductory session in September of 2023;
  • Commit to meeting with your buddy at least approximately six times between September 2023 – March 2024*;
  • Take part in an in-person ‘community of practice’ meeting in London in March 2024 to share your experience with other buddy pairs and to learn about follow-up funding opportunities;
  • Set aside any pre-determined agendas when you first meet and be open to developing any outcomes together using a relational mindset**.

In late summer 2023, we’ll pair researchers with Community Leaders and provide an online introductory session. We then ask buddy pairs to meet for a minimum of six sessions between September – March. How you use these and what you talk about is up to you; this is an opportunity to get to know each other’s work, interests and organisations and see what may develop. Small pots of funding are available to support travel and subsistence associated with these independent meetings.

There is a small pot of funding available to provide reasonable cover for travel and refreshments to enable pairs to meet in person.  

** We will provide training on relational meetings in the introductory session, supported by Citizens UK. With this approach, we ask that you discover common interests and goals, to develop a relationship rather than starting with a specific project in mind: any projects or ideas that follow develop from this shared space.

Alongside the independent meetings, the BSA will organise regular informal check-ins to see how your relationship is developing and to offer support. Then in March 2024, we will bring all Buddy Pairs together for a day-long workshop in London. All expenses will be covered.

The need for us to form a connection first, […] that is huge and I would advocate that entirely. It takes that constant relationship to maintain the project that you’re working on and also to trust each other.

- Community Buddy 2022 (Researcher)


We’re looking for researchers to buddy with our latest cohort of Community Leaders in the following areas: 



Community Leader's Organisation

Ballynahinch Northern Ireland

1st Spa Boys Brigade


South East

Banbury Madni Masjid

Bexhill-on-Sea South East Community Supporters



Milan Senior Welfare Organisation


North West

Ugandan Community Association Liverpool

Merthyr Tydfil


Stephens and George Charitable Trust


North West



South West

ArtCare at Salisbury District Hospital



Faiths Women Community UK

Tower Hamlets


SocietyLinks Tower Hamlets


West Midlands 

BME Housing Consortium


South West

1st Yetminster Scout Group

Expressing interest

If you live in one of the stated areas and would like to get involved, please complete the short expression of interest form.


On the form, you will be asked for the following:

  • Name and contact information
  • University/institution and role
  • Location (town/city)
  • A few lines about your research
  • Brief details on any previous community engagement experience
  • Information on your institutional support
  • Why you are interested in taking part.

No previous experience with community engagement is required. We’ll get in touch with the next steps.

Find out more about the Community Buddies Programme in this blog, which synthesised the learning from the first two years of the programme. 

You can learn more about our programme of community engagement work here. If you have any questions, please get in touch at [email protected]