We’ve funded projects with impact and legacy in the latest Public Engagement Fund awards

Last November we made another round of awards through our Public Engagement Fund. Alexandra Parsons shares news about future improvements to the fund and tips for writing a strong application.

Woman engaged in a conversation.
We want to encourage and enable applications from more diverse sources for our Public Engagement Fund.
Credit: Michael Bowles / Wellcome

Alexandra Parsons

Alexandra Parsons

Over the next few months, we’ll be working with the Institute of Voluntary Action Research to review and refine the Public Engagement Fund

We’ll be looking closely at what works well, what could be improved and how we can make sure the scheme helps us achieve our public engagement objectives. We want to encourage and enable applications from more diverse sources, increase our funding rate and make the application and decision-making process smoother. 

To do this, we will:

  • analyse application data 
  • speak to some former applicants
  • look at best practice in the sector
  • review how we communicate about the fund.

 We’ll keep everyone updated about the work’s progress through this monthly blog. 

What we’d like to see more of in future applications

We received applications for projects that aimed to tackle some really tough social issues. Most of the funded projects involve working with communities with high levels of economic deprivation and engaging some of the most vulnerable people in society. They deal with social health research issues like mental health, health inequalities and the social aspects of death.

But we would also like to invest in work that allows people to engage with, reflect on and inform the whole breadth of issues we care about. This means we’re keen to see more high-quality applications from people looking at more diverse topics such as infectious disease, data, cell biology, population health, nutrition, neuroscience, innovations or genetics. These are just some examples and we’re not limited to these themes.

We also want to see more applications from a wider diversity of public engagement practice that show clear benefit to the public. This might be anything from patient community empowerment using online platforms to public engagement infrastructure or systems change. It might be online mechanisms or content that involve and empower individuals and communities. Or it might even be actionable research into public engagement that shows how different mechanisms achieve the outcomes we care about. Again, these are just a few areas and we’re open to your ideas.

We’re interested in applications for work which is truly innovative in its approach or has the potential to scale and spread within your organisation and across the sector. And finally, we want to see that you have thought through how the project can leave a legacy and share its impact.

Funding stats from the latest round of awards

  • We awarded more than £765,000 to nine projects.
  • The nine successful proposals were chosen from a shortlist of 42 applications.
  • We didn’t spend our whole budget of £1.25 million so we’ll be rolling the remaining budget into the next round of awards.

What we’ve funded – and why

These are a few of the most recent projects we’ve funded. You will soon be able to read about the other funded projects too.

  • Departure Lounge, an innovative pop-up installation from the Academy of Medical Sciences. It mimics a travel agency and enables people to have conversations about death with experts, family and friends. It will drive a programme of policy activity to ensure public views shape research on dying.

We liked: a fun idea to try to access a serious and challenging topic. We really liked the way researchers would be involved with the public, and that the idea has great potential to be scaled up or repeated in other locations.

  • The Duke Playhouse’s intergenerational programme to improve the lives of people living with dementia. It will engage with over 1,200 people in Morecambe Bay, England, in the art, science and healthcare potential of laughter and creative play.

We liked: there are clear and positive benefits for everyone involved, from people living with dementia to school children and the wider public. Also, dementia research and connections to researchers are well integrated in the project.

  • Children in Scotland’s participative research project with children and young people in areas of high deprivation in Glasgow and Dundee. Young peer researchers will be supported to investigate how community and place impact their health and to analyse and share their findings.

We liked: local children will be involved at all stages of this valuable work to support better and more equitable health.

Do you find these updates helpful?

We plan to keep writing short updates after each of our quarterly Public Engagement Fund meetings. We want to help future applicants, so we’d love to hear what you might find useful. Tweet @wellcometrust or leave comments on the Wellcome Facebook page.

If you’d like to pitch a proposal for an innovative project, have a look at our Public Engagement Fund or other more focused schemes.

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