Hands in fists united in a circle shape.

Regional National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Infrastructures hosted at the University of Birmingham will be part of a partnership looking at increasing diversity in research through community engagement in the Birmingham and Solihull area. The partnership will also include Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board (BSol ICB), Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC), Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BCHC), voluntary and community sector partners Flourish and Catalyst 4 Change.

The partnership has recently been awarded a £100k NHS Research Engagement Network (REN) development grant for this work, which will help to ensure that healthcare research is shaped by underrepresented communities.

The project plans to find and bridge gaps in community engagement in research, then create networks to build strong community ties, and to engage in communities to address existing power imbalances.

The funding awarded will also help to establish the Birmingham & Solihull Research and Community Engagement Hub (BIRCH), led by BVSC. Bringing together healthcare providers, voluntary and community sectors, local government, academia and public contributors, this will be a collaborative network looking to change the reshape the engagement and participation in community led research.

The hub will be closely aligned with the Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care System’s innovative Community Engagement Framework and other initiatives across the city. This will enable shareable resources to be created, combining shared knowledge and best practice.