Durham Community Action (DCA) and the Rural Design Centre (RDC) are working with the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) to develop a Community Research Network in rural County Durham.
This is as part of UK Research and Innovation's new national Community Research Network programme.
What is Community Research?
A community research network is a way of supporting local people to have an active role in research and to move away from academic research where communities sometimes feel they have been "done to".
Members of communities and community organisations have a deep knowledge of their local areas, their assets and needs, and shared issues and problems. This isn’t always recognised and used.
The Young Foundation was commissioned by UKRI to explore how communities can be more equitably involved in knowledge creation. Their findings are reported here
UKRI is building on this report to fund 25 local collaborations across the UK to explore how communities can be more actively involved in setting research agendas, contributing their experiences, collecting relevant information, and influencing positive changes in policy and practice.
In County Durham, our project runs from March 2023 to spring 2024 and aims to build capacity in rural communities to investigate local issues.
The community research network could support and influence decision making by bringing new evidence to light through new facts and information. Insight could contribute to improvements in outcomes for people.
We’ve been busy since March. We’ve been listening to what local community organisations and networks in rural West Durham, and other stakeholders tell us that they hear from local people. We’ve been hearing about their experience of research and we have discussed what we need to do to create a research network with communities and how it might work. We do this through workshops, one-to-one meetings and through partnership work. Feedback from workshops we held in July is here
As a result, we’re starting to understand how a Community Research Network would be helpful for rural County Durham, what it might be able to achieve and what will make it successful. We are now developing a plan for future action. If we get this action plan right, we will win UKRI funding to run the research network for rural communities for a full five years from April 2024 to March 2029.
Durham Community Action
Fiona Christian, Community Partnerships Manager
National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE)