Science Together celebrates a third year of community-led research collaborations
Science Together celebrates a third year of community-led research collaborations

Image credit: Andrew Bailey

Science Together celebrates a third year of community-led research collaborations

Science Together hosts a Summer Celebration to recognise the seven community-led research collaborations formed over the last ten months through the Science Together engagement with research programme.

During the past ten months, local community groups and organisations have been collaborating with researchers and facilitators from the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University on research initiatives focusing on local needs, perspectives, and interests.

This year’s Science Together collaborations have been co-developed with:

  • Ark-T - assessing the impact of Ark-T's Community Hub Days as a key community wellbeing intervention and the extent to which Ark-T is meeting the needs of the community and participants;
  • Good Food Oxfordshire - co-designing solutions with community groups to help improve access to healthier and more sustainable diets for Oxfordshire residents;
  • In-spire Sounds - investigating the impact of youth provision, music and mentoring on young people taking part in workshops, and the wider social benefits of providing a creative platform for unheard youth voices in the community;
  • MES Creations - delivering a programme of introductory graffiti workshops to gauge attitudes towards community, anti-social behaviour, wellbeing and perceptions around graffiti and street art from those taking part to inform the development of further local projects;
  • Oxford Lindy Hoppers - exploring the benefits of dance on physical and mental wellbeing – and how social and improvisational skills are developed through swing dancing;
  • Parasol Project - identifying the social resilience factors that are particularly important to the inclusive Parasol community and supporting the development of skills through co-designed activities;
  • Slade Nursery School - investigating the impact of the nursery's 'Home Hub' initiative to improve children's communication skills and their ability to self-regulate behaviours.

‘It was an inspiring day, bringing together an amazing group of community partners and researchers, all working together to deliver positive social impact. Science Together exemplifies the University's ambitions to support community-led research and to create opportunities for young people in our local community.’ 

Professor Alexander Betts, Local & Global Engagement Officer

Although most collaborations are still progressing as the academic year comes to an end, the Summer Celebration provided a chance for all participants to gather and learn about each other's research. The Vice-Chancellor and local councillors joined participants from previous years of the programme who had returned to catch up on new projects, as well as those interested in joining the 2024/25 cohort, beginning this autumn.

Science Together was launched in 2021 as a community-first engagement programme, coordinated by University of Oxford staff in partnership with Oxford Brookes University. The programme aims to use cross-sector collaborations to overcome challenges and seize opportunities for people living and working in Oxfordshire. This year’s projects involved 30 staff from across the two universities.

Science Together Summer CelebrationScience Together Summer Celebration

Image credit: Andrew Bailey

Stu Mason from MES Creations said: ‘It's been an absolute delight to play a part in the Science Together Programme this year. As a creative collective, we're always looking for ways to bring people together and make creative endeavour more accessible. Being gifted the time, space and ability to work with researchers and facilitators to explore and substantiate the work that we do has been an incredible opportunity.

‘To develop the creative opportunities for those involved in our Graffiti Club and to inspire the young people who take part, while building the foundations for long-term creative practice – that's of incalculable value to an emerging CIC like MES – outcomes that for us add up to significantly more than the sum of the parts.’

Leandros Tsiotos, Oxford Population Health acted as a project facilitator with the Parasol Project group this year. He said: ‘Being part of the Science Together programme made me realise how important it is to connect and collaborate with young people and local communities who are on our doorstep.

Summer Celebration - MES CreationsSummer Celebration - MES Creations

Image credit: Andrew Bailey

‘We built lasting friendships that helped shape the project and make a real impact in the Parasol community. The passion and energy of the Parasol Project staff, the young volunteers and the research team made the journey unforgettable and full of adventure.’

Ngwari Mandrup, Connected Communications Service (CCS), Social Sciences Division and project facilitator with MES Creations said: 'We often hear about Oxford University's global impact, but witnessing the transformative change at the grassroots level has been truly incredible. It was a privilege to be part of Science Together, making a real impact in real-time, with real people addressing real-life challenges and solving real issues. Through this collaboration, I have not only witnessed the positive changes in our community but also forged friendships for life.'

'It has been incredibly special to be part of this year’s projects and to see partnerships develop through a shared pool of knowledge, expertise, and interest. I hope that local community groups, initiatives, and researchers from Oxford’s universities will consider joining us for 2024/25' said Daisy Hopkins, Science Engagement Facilitator at the University of Oxford.

Find out more about Science Together and how you could get involved during the new academic year starting in October 2024, on the programme website.