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Creating energetic and sustainable community research partnerships. Developing the Co-production and Peer Research (CoPPer) network to improve health and reduce inequality


Published: 12 September 2023

Version: 1.0 September 2023

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Title: Creating energetic and sustainable community research partnerships. Developing the Co-production and Peer Research (CoPPer) network to improve health and reduce inequality
Lead Researcher: Mr Shahid Islam
Co-Lead: Professor Rosemary McEachan
Institution: Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Community partner organisation: Born in Bradford
Funding: £149,902.23

Why we applied to this funding call

We have spent several years working with communities across Bradford whereby diverse populations have provided tremendous support to our research efforts. This has helped us build a solid evidence base on how to improve the health and well-being of a city-wide population. Working together on so many research projects has boosted confidence and trust in the work we have undertaken, and as a consequence, has given rise to an interest amongst community organisations to join us as equal partners in producing and delivering research. This call provided a perfect opportunity to make this happen.

A quote from one of our community partner organisations is worth including - “I chose to work in collaboration with the Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR) on this project, because it was an excellent opportunity to learn more in the field of research as well as encourage local people to engage in research activities. We have so much to learn and give as a community, that I thought it was paramount for Abilities Together to contribute our efforts in making this a success”. Tahira Amin - Abilities Together.

Benefits to service users and NHS

Involving communities results in better research, but often they are not able to influence research which affects them. This project will develop new ways of working that will help communities, researchers and organisations work together as equal partners. Specifically, this study will help local groups research what is positive and negative about the areas they live in and suggest improvements that might be made.

By working with trusted community organisations, this will create opportunities for seldom heard groups to take a leading role in improving local matters through the application of research. At the same time the collaboration will strengthen partnerships between researchers and community organisations, which will mean these organisations will have capacity to carry out further research into other areas of concern their community might identify.

The experience gained in this study will inform plans for the creation of a Co-production and Peer Research (CoPPeR) network, encouraging and supporting the expansion of this approach to doing research, and providing a framework to explore the impact coproduction and peer research projects may have on health and well-being. The CoPPeR network will provide strong and sustainable community infrastructure, build research capacity amongst communities, service providers and researchers, and provide a model of best practice.
The long term vision is to embed the CoPPeR network model in research infrastructure regionally and nationally to prioritise, develop, deliver and implement research that improves the health of service users. This project will inform the development of a large-scale Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) research programme, which will be one of the first city wide projects to quantify the impact of built/natural infrastructure improvements on health.

Aims of the project

The aim of this project is to establish the CoPPeR network, a sustainable model to enable
seldom-heard communities, researchers and policy makers to work together in order to develop and deliver research to improve the health of communities.

The main objectives are to:

  • Develop long term relationships with community organisations who work with seldom heard groups.
  • Co-produce community led, peer-research projects on community priorities.
  • Explore barriers and enablers to co-production and peer-research with seldom heard communities.
  • Co-produce a sustainable model for the CoPPeR network
  • Explore the readiness of research and statutory organisations to embed the CoPPeR network in activities.

Project design

This research project is structured around four work packages across 18 months:

  • WP1 consists of four case studies building on previously identified priorities of built/natural environment and health, to explore best processes for engaging Bradford’s seldom heard communities in co-producing research including asylum seekers and refugees, Eastern European Roma, Pakistani and White British communities. For each group a community coordinator will recruit peer researchers who will together design, implement and analyse a citizen science research project. Findings will be disseminated to decision-makers to advocate for change. WP1 and WP2 will run concurrently in months 1-12.
  • WP2 will conduct co-evaluation to identify barriers/enablers and areas for improvement. Participatory workshops and activity observations will be conducted with peer researchers. Community coordinators will also meet for facilitated discussions. Analysis will focus on what worked (or did not), consider feasibility, acceptability and impact, as well contextual influences.
  • WP3 will bring peer-researchers, community organisations and wider stakeholders together in a workshop to ‘dream’ and ‘design’ key features of the CoPPeR network based on learning from WP1/2. WP3 will run in months 13-18.
  • WP4 will explore readiness and opportunity for statutory health and research partners to embed the CoPPeR network. WP4 will run throughout.