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Case study: Bradford Research Champion explains why you should get involved in research.

Rizwan Rehman: Championing Equality and Diversity in Research

Proud Bradfordian Rizwan Rehman shares why he chose to sign up to help champion research in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Rizwan Rehman had spent over 25 years working with communities across Bradford when he decided to sign up to become a research champion with the NIHR Clinical Research Network Yorkshire and Humber.

A Senior Local Government Officer, Rizwan works regularly with research projects in Bradford, and had been involved with the Born in Bradford study prior to becoming a Research Champion. His decision to sign up was born from a passion to ensure representation for ethnic minority communities in Bradford.

“Quite often our diverse communities are forgotten or assumptions are made about us that create more inequality and misrepresentation of community needs and aspirations,” Rizwan said. “I am keen to be able to share my knowledge of communities, and to help spread the word about health and care research to the public in a language and format that they understand.

“More often than not an assumption is made that ethnic minority communities are hard to reach and difficult to engage. My aim is to change this mindset and open avenues of communication and understanding so that research can be developed that is meaningful for all.”

One of the key challenges faced by researchers has been the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, and the spread of misinformation about both the disease, and research into COVID-19 vaccines.

“Misinformation about Covid within ethnic minority communities has created negativity and sadly contributed to lives being lost unnecessarily. Research clearly showed the disproportionally high impact of Covid on BAME communities and the need for it to be addressed.”

In his role as a Research Champion, Rizwan took part in a number of online sessions with members of the public and researchers to discuss how to help raise awareness of misinformation within communities. He was also instrumental in the set up of a COVID-19 Young Ambassadors programme which enabled young people to help ensure credible messages about the virus and vaccine research were shared across West Yorkshire.

“My role as a Research Champion offers the opportunity to provide a vital service in sharing information about health and care research. It’s important to have representation from a wide range of community groups, who can provide quick and trusted communication to people when they need it most.”

Find out more about becoming a Research Champion.