Summary of a project to scope a public health research-practice ‘hub’ at Leeds Beckett University
Collaboration between academics and practitioners and policy makers is increasingly seen as a way of producing better and more useful knowledge. In this blog, Kris Southby reflects on how we might facilitate better research-practice collaboration around health, wellbeing, and communities between LBU academics and partners in the Leeds city region. (The views are not those of the School of Health or of LBU).
Staff at LBU are involved in a breadth of excellent research around the health and wellbeing – and determinants of health and wellbeing – of individuals and communities. From obesity to social relationships and from volunteering to dementia, to name a few. LBU staff are also very good at working with people to produce new knowledge about their health and wellbeing and not just doing research on them. The CommUNIty scheme is one example of this.
However, we need to recognise that our research work in this area could still be better; better for us in terms of ‘bigger and better’ projects and better for people and communities by being more tailored to their needs.
Over the past 12 months or so, myself and Prof. Jane South, Prof. Gary Jones, and Dr. Andrew Passey have been exploring ways of more effectively bringing together academics from across the university with an interest in health, wellbeing, and communities with local practitioners, community leaders and policy makers. A vitally important questions has been: how can our research be more responsive to need in the Leeds city region? More about what we have been doing and the detail of what we found is available HERE.
One of the main things we found was the synergies between the knowledge and information that local practitioners, community leaders and policy makers would find helpful and the skills and expertise within LBU. Another significant finding was the overwhelming support – both within the university and externally – for mechanisms to create better connections between these groups.
A new research-practice network to connect individuals and teams with a shared interest in health, wellbeing, and communities would add value in the first instance. An accompanying externally facing ‘shop window’ would articulate LBU’s offer around health, wellbeing, and communities research to potential partners and provide a clear point of entry in/out of LBU.
An embryonic network has developed through the scoping work we have been carrying out. This has already yielded results in terms of new regional research collaborations and research grant income. We need to build on this momentum.
A number of converging agendas mean that the time is right to put something in place to facilitate better research-practice collaboration around health, wellbeing and communities between LBU academics and partners in the Leeds city region. Nationally, improving population health continues to be prominent across diverse government agendas. Research funding – led by the research councils – is favouring interdisciplinarity and collaboration. Across Yorkshire and Humber, research networks and collaborations, such as the PaRC, have emerged. In LBU, university and School strategies concerning LBU’s ‘health anchor’ role and building research excellence are developing.
The full project reports from this work are available HERE. For more information, please contact Kris.
Funding for the work was provided by LBU and the NIHR Yorkshire and Humber Clinical Research Network (CRN).