Students walking on campus

University of Hull joins ‘ideas’ project to tackle mental health in Hull

The British Science Association (BSA) and the Wellcome Trust are today launching The Ideas Fund – a new grants programme that will enable the UK public to think about, develop and test ideas to help improve mental wellbeing in the area where they live.

Dr Gill Hughes, Lecturer in the School of Education at the University and one of the three co-ordinators in Hull, said: “The Ideas fund is a real coup for Hull as it is one of only 4 pilot areas in the UK.

“It is an innovative initiative, which will bring together communities and researchers – across the generations and cultures in the city to explore mental wellbeing – and this is particularly pertinent in Covid-19 times.

“There is such a lot of creativity in the city – the British Science Association Ideas fund will help to bring this to life." Dr Gill Hughes

“It is really exciting for the University to be part of this programme, which is about doing things differently. It will enable community groups to determine the issues they see as pertinent and to work alongside researchers in developing new, or building on established, projects that will make a difference to the people who live in our communities and create an impact in the city.”

The University’s Knowledge Exchange and Research office will support the programme in Hull to identify researchers who would like to take part.

The Fund has been designed to help people tackle problems that matter to them by connecting community groups with researchers and together they can bring ideas to life. Initially the Fund will focus on ideas related to mental wellbeing, with £3.29m funding to support community initiatives in four geographical areas of the UK: North West Northern Ireland, the Scottish Highlands and Islands, Oldham in Greater Manchester and the city of Hull.

Nidd building, Hull University Business School

The Ideas Fund will help to test and explore factors that impact on our mental wellbeing

Findings published today from ‘Mental Wellbeing in the UK’ research commissioned by the BSA reveal that one in four (25%) adults surveyed by YouGov in Yorkshire and the Humber described their mental wellbeing as poor; and nearly half (48%) said their wellbeing had worsened since coronavirus restrictions were first introduced back in March 2020.

A higher percentage of people in Scotland (49%) said their mental wellbeing had worsened compared to those in England (46%), Wales (42%) and Northern Ireland (33%). Across the UK, more women (52%) than men (39%) said their wellbeing had deteriorated. Unemployed people (40%) and full-time students (28%) were most likely to describe their mental wellbeing as ‘poor’; and homeowners (56%), retired people (63%) and those with a gross annual household income of £45,000+ (53%) were most likely to describe theirs as ‘good’. A third (34%) of all UK adults surveyed said they thought young people aged 16-30 were most likely to have poor mental wellbeing in the area where they live.

Reaching people who may have been overlooked by research in the past is a key aim of the Ideas Fund – particularly in rural or minority ethnic communities, amongst the young, marginalised and socioeconomically disadvantaged people. In Hull, the Fund will be working in partnership with the University of Hull, Two Ridings Community Foundation, and Hull & East Riding Timebank, as the three co-ordinators, to reach local communities and support them through the ideas, application process and delivery.

Harriet Johnson, Partnerships Manager at Two Ridings Community Foundation, said:

“Hull is an increasingly diverse city known for innovation and for testing new ideas, making it an ideal location for the Ideas Fund. There is already strong and connected community development work happening here, navigating across significant socio-economic disadvantage.

"The University of Hull is committed to building on its public engagement work with local communities, which we think presents some exciting opportunities for learning.” Harriet Johnson

Nationwide research conducted for the BSA by YouGov found significant public interest in local interventions to raise awareness of the latest developments in mental health research and to improve mental wellbeing in their community. In Yorkshire and the Humber, one in three adults (33%) said more community action is needed; and nearly half (48%) of those surveyed said they would be interested in taking part in community activity designed to understand and improve mental wellbeing in the area where they live.

Delivered by the BSA and funded by Wellcome, the Fund supports the BSA’s belief that science is about ideas that can and should come from anywhere and Wellcome’s commitment to funding ideas that empower people, lead to better research and enable science to solve urgent health challenges.

Katherine Mathieson, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, said:

“The Ideas Fund not only encourages traditionally underserved groups of people in the UK to engage with health research, it aims to put them in the driving seat – by involving them in the design of the Fund and decisions on the ideas and projects that receive funding.

“We’ve brought together community representatives, researchers and people with expertise in involving people in science to help design the programme. Members of the public told us that they were excited by opportunities to engage with health research and had lots of ideas, but they would like support at both the application and grant award stages and may also need introductions to researchers to partner with. The Fund has been designed to support people and ideas with potential and to bring communities and researchers together.”

Campus tulips in Spring

The University’s Knowledge Exchange and Research office will support the programme in Hull

One in five (23%) of the adults surveyed for the BSA in Yorkshire and the Humber said increasing awareness about the latest developments in mental health research could improve mental wellbeing where they live; and 30% said having a platform through which people from the area are able to collectively say what is needed could help.

Across the UK, the research revealed there is interest in community involvement within all age and income groups. 48% of 18-24 year olds, 50% of 25-34 year olds, 51% of 35-44 year olds, 47% of 45-54 year olds and 44% of people aged 55+ said they would be interested in taking part in community activity to improve mental wellbeing in the area where they live.

Household income was not a barrier to being interested in getting involved in community activity, with similar levels of interest expressed by adults living in households with an income of up to £10,000 (46%), £10,000 to £30,000 (47%), £30,000- £50,000 (50%) and those above £50,000 (50%).

A person’s income was, however, identified as one of the five most important influences on a person’s mental wellbeing. The five top-scoring answers in the research were Health (80%) (a person’s physical health and family health history), Family (79%) (having family members to connect with), Friendships (79%) (having close friends), Income (73%) (how much money a person has) and Employment (73%) (if a person has a paid job).

The Ideas Fund will help to test and explore factors that impact on our mental wellbeing, through people-powered ideas and collaborations between communities and researchers.

Lara Clements, Wellcome’s Associate Director, Public Engagement & Campaigns, said:

“At Wellcome we see local communities and the public as vital partners in our mission of solving the urgent health challenges that affect everyone, and The Ideas Fund will be an innovative and important new way to connect people with the research that matters to them. I’m delighted to be working with the British Science Association to launch it.”

Visit www.theideasfund.org and follow @TheIdeasFund on Facebook and Twitter


To get involved with the project:


Community groups – please contact Harriet Johnson (HJohnson@tworidingscf.org.uk)
Researchers – please contact Gill Hughes (g.c.hughes@hull.ac.uk)

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