Urban health

Developing a community research model

We’re working with community researchers to address the inherent inequalities built into many traditional research practices.

Key partnership information

Partners: The Social Innovation Partnership (TSIP)

Funding amount: £128,970

Duration: March 2020 – March 2021

Programme: cross-programme project

What we’re doing together

The Social Innovation Partnership (TSIP), who are experts in community-led change, will help us to engage, train and deploy community researchers using an action research model: research, test, learn, adapt, and repeat.  The researchers will do a literature review of community research models to date, interviewing ten organisations running community research programmes across the UK and designing a new model for robust, accessible and inclusive community research.

The researchers will also work with TSIP and London South Bank University to understand how to improve on traditional research ethics guidelines. Together we’ll ask how these guidelines can be redesigned to truly shift power and allow for the changes we need to see in research and in society.

The insights gathered will inform three design sprints, where current theory and best practice will act as a foundation for a new community research model.

The sprints will include three one-off sessions, using design tools to encourage collaboration between researchers, academics and social innovation partners. The sessions will cover the theory and challenges associated with current research practices; ways that key obstacles might be addressed; and potential solutions that can be used to take a community research model forward.

We will deploy community researchers to support with three internal projects initially, gathering data to better understand how this approach can be scaled up to improve the quality of our insights across our organisation.


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Aims of the partnership

  • Community researchers’ role in designing and delivering community research is enhanced
  • Community researchers’ knowledge and skills relating to project research and delivery are increased
  • Community researchers’ further training or employment prospects are enhanced through participation and training
  • Our understanding of best practice for building community research models is increased
  • Our knowledge about building an inclusive and representative approach towards community research is increased
  • Our knowledge about research ethics for this type of work is enhanced
  • TSIP’s capacity to employ and support community researchers, as well as quality assure their work, is enhanced


Connection to our strategy

Communities suffering from the consequences of inequality are often the subjects of research programmes instead of partners in the design and implementation of research activities. They are rarely involved in the development or evaluation of solutions designed for their own neighbourhoods.

Our development of a new community research model builds on the Gehl foodscapes project, where TSIP recruited and trained 16 local Community Surveyors from Peckham and Camberwell. They were hired to observe and interview local passers-by within the wards about their eating routines, and this approach sparked a much larger project into community-led research practices. You can read about the experience of one of the Community Surveyors here.

As we work to address the complex systemic issues underlying health and wellbeing in our communities, a focus on power, diversity, accessibility and inclusion is critical. At the same time, we must look at how traditional research ethics might need to be evolved in the context of community research.

About The Social Innovation Partnership (TSIP)

The Social Innovation Partnership (TSIP) is a team of technical and community specialists driving social change. They partner with organisations to better understand the issues they care about and increase their positive impact on people and communities.

Visit the TSIP site
Louise Mousseau

Have questions about our partnership with The Social Innovation Partnership?

Louise Mousseau leads our work on community research models.

Contact Louise to find out more