Tackling the challenges faced by people living with neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and brain injury, is the focus of new research by the University of Essex and Healthwatch Essex.
The new partnership’s project is one of 53 innovative projects across the UK, to be funded by the government as part of UK Research and Innovation’s new vision for public engagement.
The Community Research and Engagement Project (Courage) will focus on supporting those people affected by, and living with neurological conditions and over the next few months will aim to develop a co-designed research strategy to address directly these people’s needs through actively engaging them in research design and delivery.
To launch the six-month initiative, a collaborative workshop took place at the University of Essex – bringing together over 50 researchers, academics, practitioners, support workers and those living with brain conditions – to start the strategy process.
Project leader Dr Andrew Bateman, from the University’s School of Health and Social Care, said: “Building a research programme to tackle the challenges of people living with a neurological condition is a great opportunity that can potentially involve many academics at Essex. The voices of people affected by these conditions are often not heard. At the launch event, I heard how frustrating this is for people from the charities that are there to help, but not ‘listened to’. I am really looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together to raise awareness, devise studies and create innovative solutions.”
Dr David Sollis, CEO of Healthwatch Essex, added: “Through the Essex Neurology Network, Healthwatch Essex has been promoting the understanding of neurological conditions by sharing the voices of those with lived experience. We are excited to work in partnership with the University of Essex to develop this platform and co-design the Courage Network’s research and engagement strategy.”
Nationally, the 53 projects, worth £1.4m, will enable members of the public to contribute actively to research and innovation projects that affect their lives. The projects will target communities who would not normally engage with research and innovation, so they can shape research and innovation that is relevant to their lives and their local areas.
UK Research and Innovation’s Head of Public Engagement, Tom Saunders, said: “The 53 pilot projects that we have funded represent an exciting range of ways that researchers and innovators can involve the public in their work.
“In 2020 and beyond, we will build on the lessons we learn through funding these pilot projects to help us achieve our ambition of making research and innovation responsive to the knowledge, priorities and values of society and open to participation by people from all backgrounds.”