Research and development

Shifting the power in research

Exploring how community-centred research and funding models can help address health inequity

Key partnership information

Partner: Wellcome Trust

Funding amount: £3,000,000

Duration: three years

Programme: cross-programmatic, part of our research and development work

What we’re doing together

Together with the Wellcome Trust we’re working to improve health outcomes by transforming public engagement in health research; both in terms of how the public contributes to the production of research and how they use the research. Over the course of three years, we will explore community-centred research and funding models by supporting projects that: 

Challenge existing methods

Challenge current research practice and funding cultures by focussing on the experiences of diverse communities in place. 

Explore new models and build evidence

Test new approaches to the way research is funded, designed, carried out and disseminated by seeking the perspectives, and active participation, of people and communities who could benefit from the research. We want to build evidence of what works to enable the scaling-up of good practice. 

Give power to communities

Enable the public, especially those who experience health inequalities, to exercise increased agency and control over health research that has a direct impact on their lives. 

The projects that are jointly funded through this partnership will align with both our portfolio priorities, including our adolescent mental health and multiple long-term conditions programmes, and our diversity, equity and inclusion work as part of Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation. We will also explore innovative methods and new approaches as part of our cross-program research and development work. 

Achieving better equity in health research is key to the success of our strategy. To do this we must rethink the power dynamics that exist in both research and funding practice. By working in partnership with Impact on Urban Health we will bring together our complementary skills, networks and knowledge to support communities to identify and lead their own health agendas, resulting in sustainable long-term change in Lambeth and Southwark

Anna Ramsay Public Engagement Team at Wellcome Trust

Aims of the partnership

By funding and practicing health research in a community-centred way, we aim to: 

  • Develop equitable funding models that recognise and address power imbalances. 
  • Create opportunities for people who live in areas that experience unequal health outcomes to define, shape and lead research agendas on health issues they care about. 
  • Use our resources in ways that support and sustain communities to build their capacity

Our ultimate aim is to drive more equitable and effective health solutions for our communities in Lambeth and Southwark 

To support this, we’ll capture learnings and evidence to influence and support policymakers and other funders in the wider health sector.

Exploring new models to redress power imbalances in research

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Connection to our strategy

We know that health is determined by more than just healthcare or lifestyle choices. Health is shaped by many different social, economic and environmental factors that are experienced over our lifetimes, including in our homes and at work, as well as broader factors like systemic discrimination. 

Health risks, and health resources, are not experienced equally by everyone, particularly in inner-city areas. It is often lower-income, Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups that are disproportionately impacted by poor health outcomes. 

People experiencing the consequences of health inequities have the greatest potential to benefit from research, but often don’t have a say in what is studied and how. And whilst people can learn about, and be inspired, by research, they have few opportunities to contribute in ways that build, support and sustain their communities. 

If funding models don’t include the perspectives and lived experience of people who are affected, then research is less likely to result in meaningful assets that will improve long-term health. Currently, it is those with the time, resources and know-how who are much more likely to be successful in accessing funding; but their perspectives may not reflect the priorities, needs and interests of people experiencing poor health outcomes, and may hold conscious or unconscious biases. 

As funders, our organisations have access to resources including knowledge, expertise and connections. With this partnership, we can create opportunities for people who experience unequal health outcomes to shape and take an active role in the systems, processes and services that impact their health.  

For urban areas to become healthier places for everyone to live, we must recognise our own role in perpetuating some of the negative aspects of research culture and work to rebalance the distribution of power, money, and resources we have as funders, to create more equitable and inclusive health research and funding practices.

More about Wellcome Trust

Wellcome supports science to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone: mental health, infectious disease, and climate and health. Because the effects of these challenges will not be felt evenly, they believe in partnering with the people whose health is most at risk. 

Visit the Wellcome Trust website
Gabrielle Allen

Have questions about our partnership with the Wellcome Trust?

Gabrielle Allen leads our work on rethinking research and funding practice.

Contact Gabrielle to find out more