The British Science Association has announced that it will be funding seven more community projects in Hull as part of its Ideas Fund programme.
The projects will involve a knowledge exchange between University of Hull researchers and the community groups, with an investment of £267K.
The Ideas Fund is an innovative grants scheme, run by the British Science Association (BSA) and funded by the Wellcome Trust, that enables the UK public to work with University researchers to develop and try out ideas to improve mental wellbeing in their communities.
Hull was one of four pilot areas in 2021 – and the latest announcement reveals how new funds have been allocated across the city to add to the 14 that were funded in the first round.
Dr Gill Hughes, a lecturer in Youth Work and Community Development and Education Studies at the University of Hull and one of three Ideas Fund Development Coordinators for Hull, said: “This announcement offers more great news for the city and for the University of Hull, with more investment funding for the second round of the Ideas Fund.
“Huge congratulations to all of the community/researcher partnerships who have been part of an ‘incubator process’, which gave time and space for the partners to get to know each other and to look at how to develop the projects together.
“We have seven more inspiring community-led projects, which join community groups with researchers from the University. They will be tackling some really important and interesting areas to enhance mental wellbeing with groups of people who may not always be afforded these opportunities.
“These seven projects join the 14 previous round 1 groups, some of which are coming to the end and applying for extensions to build on their successful work, which again is great news for the city.
“These projects sit really well with the University’s 2030 strategy, which is committed to social justice and fairness for all, by promoting collaboration between the University and our local communities to contribute to making a difference in Hull.
“This way of working shifts and shares power between the partnerships away from traditionally academic- led projects. The innovative approach means that both partners share their knowledge and expertise equitably valuing both lived and learnt experience to enhance the projects. This creates more impact because the ideas come from needs identified by the community. It is even more important at this time to enhance mental wellbeing with many people experiencing the impact of the cost of living crisis.”
The local projects aim to improve mental wellbeing across a broad range of communities – from children with visual impairments, families living with the impact of acquired brain injuries and those with lived experiences of addiction.
Projects include nature-based activities for visually impaired children, creative approaches to destigmatising mental health for minoritised young people and designing an app for those with lived experiences of addiction.
Since its launch in 2021, The Ideas Fund has awarded £3.28 million in grants to over 70 community projects across four geographical areas of the UK: Hull, the Scottish Highlands and Islands, North West Northern Ireland and Oldham.
The Ideas Fund is committed to connecting communities with researchers, as well as diversifying the voices within health research. During the development of the Fund, it became clear that a targeted, place-based approach would be the most efficient way of achieving this goal by working in just four areas to test and learn. The Ideas Fund began working in these four locations in early 2021 and it wants to continue to explore how its approach can grow in these places, building on what has been learned.
The innovative approach has been inspiring the university to explore more opportunities to meet the needs of local communities by working together on co-designing and developing projects.
Many of the round 1 projects have built on the relationships and added value to the original projects and it is hoped this will be the same with round 2. This relational approach creates sustainability beyond the Ideas Fund by embedding the partnerships and creating longer-term engagement benefitting communities, the University and the city.
Dr Hughes said: “The process has brought forward many community groups and researchers who are committed to co-creating projects we would like to thank them all for their creativity and passion to work together for change.”
The first round of funding in July 2021 saw 12 projects in Hull receive £467,000 in grants (including two incubator projects). In the second round of funding, a further seven projects in the region have received funding totalling £267,000 to develop and deliver projects that address local mental wellbeing concerns:
- ERNI: Emotions Are Not Illness (ERNI) is currently a group of people who meet virtually, of both mental health service users and practitioners, in Hull who are frustrated by the current mental health service systems. They build real-world relationships between service users and co-create resources. Research partners: Dr Amy Skinner and Dr Lucy Fielding.
- Sight Support Hull and East Yorkshire: Project Insight will work with visually impaired children in Hull to explore factors affecting both their physical and mental wellbeing in order to deliver a diverse programme of creative and nature-based activities. Research partner: Dr Bethan Jones.
- Youth Aspire Connect: the NORM wellbeing project will co-create toolkits and creative outputs to support young people, parents and community leaders in Hull to destigmatise and normalise conversations about mental health and wellbeing among young people from minoritised backgrounds. Research partners: Dr Franklin Onukwugha (Health) and Dr Abigail Daniels (Clinical Psychology).
- Self-Advocacy through Storytelling: the VOICE self-advocacy group in Hull supports people with a learning disability by exploring how storytelling helps with connection and increases a sense of community and wellbeing. Research partner: Dr James McLean (Media Production).
- Open Up and Transform: the OUT group is a diverse group of 12 people, some of whom have been in prison, with a collective interest in the prison and criminal justice systems. The project will work with a researcher to exchange lived and learnt knowledge, with the aim to improve the mental wellbeing of people with experience of the criminal justice system. Research partner: Dr Meron Wondemaghen (Criminology).
- OSHI Support for an App Design: OSHI is a peer-led project that connects those with relevant lived experience to those living through experiences of addiction and recovery who need immediate help. This new project will explore the ideas of bringing support onto one digitally accessible platform. Research partner: Jason Hayhurst (Digital Media).
- P.A.U.L for Brain Recovery: the project focuses on improving the mental wellbeing of families living with acquired brain injury (ABI) in Hull, enabling them to share their stories via creative activities, including storytelling and arts, and holding an exhibition (see case study below). It is a free community service that provides support, guidance and education to individuals and families affected by acquired brain injury. Research partner: Alex Wray (Health).
The service will use its £56,965 grant from The Ideas Fund to develop a project, in partnership with researcher, Alex Wray, from the University of Hull, to improve the mental wellbeing of families affected by ABI by enabling them to express their personal stories and experiences through creative activities, including storytelling and arts, and share them at an exhibition.
Alex Wray, former Clinical Research Fellow at the Wolfson Palliative Care Research Centre at the University of Hull, has previously nursed patients with ABI and will be supporting via developing and facilitating the steering group to co-design the project and supporting co-researchers.
Alex said “I am really excited to be part of The Ideas Fund grant scheme which allows me to join P.A.U.L For Brain Recovery and their community to work together, learn from each other and together identify the support needs of families and improve the mental wellbeing of people living with acquired brain injury”.
Leigh North, Operations and Finance Manager at P.A.U.L for Brain Recovery said: “We are delighted to have been awarded a grant from The Ideas Fund, which will help us expand upon the work we are doing here in Hull. This project will enable us to work closely with family members of those affected by Acquired Brain Injury, to improve their mental wellbeing and help identify their specific support needs.”
Projects receive support from a dedicated local Development Coordinator at every stage of their journey, from grant application through to project delivery and evaluation.
Dr Hughes said: “P.A.U.L for Brain Recovery has developed a much-needed project for people in the city who can often be invisible. The project has the potential to make a real difference to the mental wellbeing of the families and carers and we really look forward to seeing what creative ideas and resources come through this participatory project as it unfolds.”
For more information about The Ideas Fund, visit the Ideas Fund website or follow TheIdeasFund on Twitter or Facebook.