How we engage the public

We believe that if the public – by which we mean individuals, communities and society – are actively involved in our work, then Wellcome will be more likely to succeed in its mission and will become even more accountable.  

Our approach to public engagement 

Public engagement plays a vital role in supporting science to solve urgent challenges and in creating trust and acceptance across communities.

We aim to build that trust and acceptance by enabling communities to have a meaningful relationship with the work of health research.

To foster this relationship, we need to focus on:

  • Listening and working well with communities to understand how health research might impact their lives and experiences.
  • Recognising the nuances of engagement and working with appropriate partners to build relationships and influence different contexts.
  • Considering how assets and resources within communities can be leveraged in support of urgent health challenges.

Why is public engagement important for researchers?

From basic science to health challenge research, effective public engagement increases the impact and uptake of science towards positive change. Public engagement encourages trusted relationships with science, supports wider societal understanding of the contributions of science. It also utilises contributions from communities in support of research ambitions.

What we're doing 

We’re working to advance the objectives of Wellcome’s new strategy in each area outlined below. These include a broad programme of discovery research and a focus on the urgent health challenges of infectious disease, climate and health, and mental health.

Public participation

There’s not enough attention given to the roles and contributions communities can bring to address the ambitions of research, and so we are prioritising the potential of this active public contribution. 

Our goal is to influence ways the public can play a role at different stages of the research lifecycle:

Upstream

We’re creating better contextual understanding to help decision-making around research priorities and amplifying the voice of public and communities most affected to key decision-makers

Midstream

We’re learning about how research works well with communities, through work on human centered clinical trials and by creating collective knowledge (for example, community-generated data to augment research)

Downstream

We’re engaging communities with the research to generate solutions and guide design of interventions of research and policies, using a range of trusted media and community channels and partners.

Funding and partnerships

We explore how funding and other resources can support collective action towards Wellcome’s goals and ensure long-term sustainability. To do this, we work with a wide range of partners to identify opportunities and ensure Wellcome works in an equitable way with the public.

Our inclusive approach

Those facing the most disproportionate effects of the health challenges are often those who have the least meaningful roles in contributing to change, if not entirely excluded. Our work centres the voices of those most impacted. We believe that everyone is an expert based on their own lived experience, and everyone has unique contributions to bring to a change process. We look for what is already working at the community level then we work towards sustainable, community-led outcomes.

What we're doing 

We develop and support the best ways of bringing science and health research closer to the society in which it operates. 

To make this happen, we’re investing in and partnering with people, organisations and projects around the world: 

  • we develop partnerships that support a wide range of people to explore, create and debate science and health research
  • we develop the evidence base for public engagement, and support networks and organisations to measure outcomes and share expertise
  • we develop leaders in public engagement, from a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds
  • we lead change to embed public engagement in research
  • we encourage a diverse range of organisations to integrate science and research in their work. 

Who we support 

The people, projects and places we support range from social enterprises and community engagement networks to Nobel Prize winners and national galleries.

These include:

We also run Wellcome Collection, a free museum and library exploring health and human experience.

We want our work to reach as many people as possible, especially people we haven’t yet talked to. We prioritise projects for audiences who have few opportunities to engage with research. 

Read more about the projects we’ve funded.

Public engagement for researchers 

We want the researchers and organisations we fund to talk to the public about their work.

To help, we offer support for scientists and academics who want to engage the public with their research.

Latest news 

More news

Read more articles on public engagement.

Reports 

This study explores the role, benefits and potential of young people’s involvement in health research, with a focus on mental health, infectious diseases and global heating.

[Summary] The world’s largest study into how people around the world think and feel about science and major health challenges.
[Summary] This report presents the results from the fourth wave of the Wellcome Monitor, a study about public knowledge of and attitudes towards science and health research.