We are working with the British Science Association (BSA) to pilot a new approach to community-led research in Reading and Slough funded by UKRI. The project aims to put communities at the heart of research, exploring the issues that matter to them. It is supporting local community groups to develop their own research agenda on broadly science-based topics, working with researchers from the University to help bring their projects to life. Working with groups who are traditionally under-represented in research, the pilot aims to make research and science more accessible, and to highlight the value that local knowledge and experience can bring to research, improving its quality and relevance.

In 2023, the project team worked with Reading Voluntary Action (RVA), Slough Council for Voluntary Services (SCVS) and a team of community researchers to reach out to local groups who would like to develop a research project to explore a broadly science-based theme, issue or idea that is important to their local community.

In 2024, researchers from the University are working with the following groups to develop their projects:

  • Together as One (Slough) – exploring whether environmental activities such as beekeeping can have a significant impact on young people’s mental health.
  • Slough Anti-Litter Society (SALS) – working with local community groups to map litter and encourage behavioural change to combat littering.
  • TRIYBE (Reading) – exploring the health issues connected to Black haircare, including chemical composition of popular products and the search for natural alternatives.
  • The Engine Room (Reading) – ‘The Engine Room Sound Laboratory’ (TERSL) is an investigation into how sound, ambience and (eco)acoustics can affect the wellbeing and mental health of a community.
  • Reading Hong Kongers – investigating how a community garden can enhance wellbeing and belonging.
  • Integrated Research and Development Centre (IRDC) – exploring the role of gardening in responding to healthy living challenges for underrepresented communities (including Nepalese communities) in Reading.

For more information contact Dr Alice Mpofu-Coles (alice.mpofu-coles@reading.ac.uk) or Dr Sally Lloyd-Evans (s.lloyd-evans@reading.ac.uk).