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Are you interested in using your research and public engagement skills to support local communities? Do you want to develop new skills and gain unique perspectives? Would you like to seek innovative solutions to societal challenges through collaboration? If so then apply now to be part of this brand new community engagement programme!

A training activity showing people round a table with post-it notes and flipcharts


Local Science Engagement Programme Application (

Science Together: Oxford Researchers and Communities



In September 2021 MPLS and MSD are launching Science Together: Oxford Researchers and Communities - a brand new Public Engagement with Research (PER) programme. This is a funded pilot programme testing new approaches to PER by connecting researchers with community partners across Oxfordshire. Through facilitated workshops researchers will connect with local communities as a starting point to identify and develop funded, collaborative projects that help these communities to overcome a challenge or seize an opportunity. Projects could take any form, for example identifying levels of pollution in a local area, designing a new piece of technology, or something else entirely. It all depends where your research interests overlap with those of the community group. You don’t need to have a fully formed project idea in advance, just an idea of which community group(s) you might be interested in working with. University PER staff will be on-hand to help you and the community group identify areas of common interest and opportunity, which will form the seed ideas for your collaborative project. The science engagement programme will encompass the research activity of any science, technology, engineering, medicine or maths discipline, history and philosophy of science, and social studies pertaining to the impacts and implications of any science discipline. This is a free programme open to applications from all University staff.

We're looking for researchers of all disciplines to partner with the community groups, and facilitators (public engagement support staff) to support the partnerships between the researchers and community groups.  Interested? Then read on for further details and how to apply...

We are running four sessions in September to train researchers and facilitators, network with community groups across Oxfordshire and identify collaborative research projects. The timeline below shows the key dates.

30th July 2021: deadline to apply to be part of the programme (click for more information)

w/c 9th August 2021: decisions made and applicants notified 

9th September 2021: Training for facilitators (click for more information)

16th September 2021: Introduction day (click for more information)

23rd September 2021: Networking day (click for more information)

30th September 2021: Ideation session (click for more information)

In order to participate in the programme researchers need to be available on 16th, 23rd and 30th September.

In order to participate in the programme facilitators need to be available on 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th September.

Please note: this programme will require ongoing commitment to the project until completion in March 2022. The exact amount of time is to be agreed between the community group, researcher and facilitator, but as a guide we anticipate approximately one or two days per month required.

Training for Facilitators - 9th September 2021

This training session is to equip the programme facilitators with the skills and knowledge to facilitate the Networking and Ideation day sessions. It will include:

  • Overview of the whole programme, with a particular focus on the networking and ideas generation sessions. 
  • The role of the facilitator
  • How to support the community groups and researchers as they participate in this programme
  • How to facilitate the networking and ideas generation sessions

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Introduction day – 16th September 2021

During this session we will give the researchers and facilitators a full overview of the programme and provide you with all the information you need to participate fully. It will include:

  • An opportunity to meet the other researcher and community group participants
  • An introduction to Public Engagement with Research
  • Working with communities
  • How this programme may be a little different from PER programmes you have previously been involved in, and what that means for you.

Networking day – 23rd September 2021

This session will be an opportunity for researchers and community groups to connect and identify areas of common interest and common opportunity. The networking sessions will be structured and facilitated, but also informal and fun too, to help you think about who you might like to collaborate with. It will include:

  • An overview of each community group's challenge, opportunity or area of interest
  • Opportunities to explore how your research area might fit into this through discussion with community groups, facilitators and research peers.
  • An expression of interest for which community groups you would like to partner with.

Please note that following the Networking day there is a selection process and the partnership decision lies with the community group. Therefore participation in the Introduction and Networking days does not guarantee progression to the Ideation day and subsequent co-development process. However, there will be opportunities for further involvement at the Celebration Event scheduled towards the end of the pilot programme (details to be announced closer to the time).

Ideation day – 30th September 2021

In this session researchers and community groups will work in the partnerships identified as part of the networking day to brainstorm project ideas. We’ll be on hand to help you develop your ideas into a project plan. The day will help you consider:

  • Who are the end users/recipients of the project?
  • What are the key deliverables of the project?
  • How will you know if the project has been successful?
  • What steps do you need to go through in order to develop your project?

Community Groups

The following community groups have signed up to the programme:

NEW! Inner Peace Records

"Oxford Hip Hop Artist, Rawz is interested in a collaboration between the Inner Peace Records collective and researchers to explore the interplay between science, technology and Hip Hop. The insights gained from this collaboration will inform a resource to support adults and young people through creative expression and science engagement. The name of the project; S.T.E.M.S. - Science and Technology Enriching Mind and Soul was inspired by the abbreviation used to describe the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics sector, but also references musical stems; the individual sound files used in recording and engineering music in a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Using equipment and software from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, 10s and 20s together on one track to create a completely original piece of music, artists and researchers can examine how evolutions in technology have influenced the music making process over an 80 year period, bridging two centuries.

There is rich ground to explore here from both a scientific and artistic point of view, the project could consider questions such as; How do various technologies manipulate electrical signals in different ways in order to create new sounds? How is software used to digitally emulate analog technology almost indistinguishably? How do the acoustics of a space affect the signal captured by microphones? What new materials became available to make the new technologies possible? What happens to a sound wave or electrical signal as it passes through a chain of equipment in a recording studio? 

Technologies used in creating, recording and editing sounds have influenced, and in turn been influenced by the musician’s creative process since the beginning of recorded music. In some cases new technologies have even been pivotal in birthing entirely new genres of music; for example the ability to mass produce affordable electric guitars and amps led to the invention of Rock and Roll music, while evolutions in digital technologies (and their early limitations) led to seminal innovations in the production of Hip Hop music."


NEW! Leys Community Development Initiative

"Leys CDI was founded to develop and co-ordinate projects of long term benefit to the Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys estates in Oxford. We run youth-led social and educational activities, careers development and diversionary activities for young people aged 9 to 25. This project is well established, and its success lies in its community roots. Why is Leys CDI needed? According to the English Indices of Multiple Deprivation 2019, Blackbird Leys rank amongst the 20% most deprived within England, and also amongst the 10% most deprived in terms of Education, Skills, and Training. Young people experience many barriers and issues and left unsupported face an increased risk of loneliness and mental health problems, are more likely to display high risk negative behaviour or become vulnerable to crime, have a lack of access to training, volunteering opportunities and skills development resulting in higher risk of unemployment.

We would like to develop an app to help us connect with the young people at Leys CDI. Keeping in touch with the young people has traditionally been done via emails to their parents, emails direct to them (if over 18years), the Leys CDI Youth Project Facebook page (not seen as cool by young people), or through flyers and posters. The Youth Workers are Leys CDI need to be able to communicate and update the young people attending Leys CDI in a quick, effective, secure way and using a method that the young people themselves are most likely to use. This is an issue that has needed a solution before the pandemic, but the Covid requirements (such as a need to register before attending a session) have made it more so."


NEW! Oxford Neighbourhood Watch

"Oxford Neighbourhood Watch’s (ONW) focus is to prevent and reduce crime by using local intelligence and sharing of information across communities. The Neighbourhood Watch mission is to support and enable individuals and communities to be connected, active and safe, which increases wellbeing and minimises crime. On a local level, Neighbourhood Watch groups are run within communities by local volunteer Coordinators. These groups have contact with a dedicated Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) and the collaboration between ONW and Thames Valley Police (TVP) Oxford is very good.

As a cycling city Oxford has a relatively high level of bike-related crime. Unfortunately bike theft is an issue for all cyclists, regardless of the value of their bike. It might be assumed that high-end bike theft has the bigger impact on the victims, however in these instances the bike is often insured so the victim can reclaim their loss, albeit with some inconvenience and sadly often some distress. The issue for low-end or second hand bikes is subtly different, and potentially more impactful. Often in these cases the theft not only causes inconvenience and distress, but often loss of independence and significant financial implications for the victim. These bikes cost less but have a higher personal value and a sense of identity can be lost - the bike means more than a mode of transport.

Whilst the police are keenly aware of the impact of bike crime on the victims, tackling bike theft presents a challenge – it is difficult to catch thieves and to retrieve bikes. Furthermore, many bike thefts are reported via social media rather than directly to the police. Therefore, the focus needs to be on crime prevention, and this forms the basis of our proposed project. 

We are looking to develop a prototype product to prevent and reduce bicycle theft for less affluent cyclists with lower spec bikes – so importantly this design solution needs to be both affordable and effective. At present, the most effective prevention is the D lock, which constitutes a prohibitively high investment for many local cyclists. The other aspect of the project is about encouraging preventative measures by bicycle owners, including raising awareness about how to purchase legitimate (non-stolen) bikes and how to protect them. This could be through a communications campaign to augment the new product, for example a leaflet addressing crime prevention and safe ways to buy bikes."


KEEN Oxford

"KEEN is a youth-led movement aiming to create, support and promote inclusion. We work with disabled and non-disabled children and young people across Oxfordshire and the UK. Our core programme consists of a number of inclusive sessions online and in-person each week, from social clubs, drama and choir, to yoga and all types of sports. We also promote inclusion in the community through KEEN Community Buddies, our 1-1 buddying programme, and Inclusive Oxfordshire. Inclusive Oxfordshire is a 2030 initiative bringing key partners together to transform the landscape of disability services and create and put into action an inclusion strategy, with the overall aim of a fully inclusive Oxfordshire by 2030.

We would love to develop and grow Inclusive Oxfordshire. Phase 1 of Inclusive Oxfordshire will focus on information sharing, physical activity and accessible information and will launch in the next few months. Phase 2 is still under development, and the proposed areas are work and employability, transport and movement, and healthcare. We would love to develop our research base and understanding of which areas of society disabled people are most excluded from, and build a strategy with key action points to change this and create full inclusion. For further details please see"


Barton Community Association

"Barton Community Association is for our local community to provide support and opportunities in the Neighbourhood Centre and around the community. Working with members of the community of all ages, race, gender, sexual orientation and religion. As well as work alongside the local authorities, voluntary and other organisations, in effort to advance education and provide facilities in the interests of social welfare for recreation and leisure time with the objective of improving the conditions of life for our community.

Ultimately, we want to be able to provide what our young people of Barton wants, and we are strong believers in consulting with our young people to achieve this. The problem we have is there is currently not a lot or a variety of activities and things for young people to get involved with in Barton, and we want to change this. Our young people love science and experiments, so we want to be able to work with our young people to be able to provide them with a long term, weekly science project. Something that engages all the young people of Barton, providing them with opportunities, as well as pride for their community."



"Daybreak runs three dementia day clubs around Oxford, in Kidlington, North Oxford and Blackbird Leys.  We have been running for 25 years and in that time have supported hundreds of families. We offer those with dementia a structured day with positive social interaction, including a hot lunch, and activities utilising Cognitive Stimulation Theory. These activities include music, art therapy and exercise, for which we hire in trained therapists; our goal is to reduce the rate of cognitive and physical decline.  For families we offer some respite while their family member is at the day club.  We also help with information and signposting to relevant services.  We are one of the few social care networks in the Oxford area supporting those with dementia. 

Tackling the experience of dementia is daunting. Medical research into cause is obviously beyond our scope; however, we would be interested in aspects of how to support those with a dementia diagnosis in their homes. For those in the early stages who are living alone, technology might be able to help them track tasks, enabling them to remain independent for longer. It would also be interesting to see if there were a way to address social isolation for those living alone with dementia using technology.

For those in the moderate stage, it would be useful to find ways to help with the basics of caring. Issues for carers are people wandering out of the house, eating inedible items, misjudging visuals such as stairs, people being incontinent, people over-eating and not remembering they have eaten, people wanting to go to bed fully dressed, large and unpredictable mood swings, people hiding objects in unusual places etc. Anything which could be of use to reduce the stress of caring for someone with dementia would be wonderful."


OPA and SOAP (two community groups running a joint project)

"The Oxfordshire Play Association (OPA) is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (Registered Charity Number 1160320) and has been providing a Countywide service across Oxfordshire since 1974. Our Vision is ‘To improve lives through Play’, and our Mission Statement is ‘To champion and to support the rights of all Children and Young People to have access to high quality, inclusive Play opportunities to improve their physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing’. We deliver a range of projects across the County including Playday, Street Play, Stay & Play, Saturdads, Therapeutic Playwork, Junior Youth Club and Play Training  

The South Oxford Adventure Playground (SOAP) is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (Registered Charity Number 1157509) located close to Oxford City Centre.  Run by a community based volunteer management committee, SOAP is part of the social fabric of south Oxford and comprises a large green area, numerous trees, fixed adventure play equipment, a football pitch, and inventing workshop.  We are also in the process of incorporating a small piece of woodland into our site.  Our aim is to support the physical and mental wellbeing of local children & young people (CYP).  Based on the adventure playground ethos, SOAP is entirely free to attend. Children are free to come and go as they please (pre-covid) and free to choose how they spend their time when there.  Our focus is on outdoor play and activities.  Typical activities include den making, outdoor fires, woodwork, slip and slide etc.  SOAP is inclusive, meaning that disabled, non-disabled children and children from minority communities are welcomed and enabled to play together.  We apply a risk-benefit assessment to risk management, balancing the potential for harm against the benefits children gain from challenging themselves in their play.  SOAP employs trained play and youth workers who facilitate and support children’s play by working to the Playwork Principles

Therapeutic Play - OPA runs Oxford Therapeutic Playwork, working with children in their schools in cohorts of 6 over a 10 week period.  SOAP runs after school and holiday play sessions based on free outdoor play, supervised by trained play workers.  We would like to do research to evaluate the benefits of these approaches on children’s wellbeing, the impact in school and on their families over an extended period after our sessional work with them has finished.

Youth mental health and wellbeing – SOAP runs a popular youth club for 11-14 yr olds and OPA aims to start a Junior Youth Club in Farringdon in September for school years 7,8 and 10 (secondary school transition). We would like to develop a piece of research looking at approaches and impact on young people’s participation, behaviour, and wellbeing.


Watlington Climate Action

"Founded in April 2019 initially as a Facebook community group, and subsequently as a formal Community Action Group within the CAG network, Watlington Climate Action Group are a voluntary group of residents, whose aims are to help Watlington address the Climate Emergency.  Our vision is to help Watlington become climate neutral by 2030.

Our objectives are:

  • To promote community and individual action through local initiatives
  • To reduce our negative impact on the climate and protect and enhance biodiversity
  • To increase awareness through collaborative action and community engagement
  • To make the best use of local resources and expertise.

Our main projects are:

  • The Green Plan: WCAG is working in partnership with Watlington Environment Group and other local groups to improve and protect biodiversity in and around Watlington and manage habitats better for carbon sequestration.
  • Homes & Energy: We are working to help residents to reduce the carbon footprint of their homes and are in the process of identifying and defining projects that help achieve this goal.
  • Plastic Free Watlington: We have run a campaign to increase awareness of plastic waste with local businesses and community groups, and have recently achieved accreditation as a Plastic Free Community from Surfers Against Sewage.
  • Awareness & Engagement: Supporting individual awareness, engagement and action through a programme of events, press articles, short films, our website, newsletter and social media channels.

One of the main areas of our ‘Green Plan’ is The Hedgerow Project and we are surveying our 46km of parish hedges following the PTES (People’s Trust for Endangered Species) format.  Carbon capture, biodiversity, landscape history, hedge-laying history, pigment research and behaviour/engagement are among our areas of interest for research.  We are staging a ‘Green Plan Art Trail’ on August Bank Holiday 28th-30th, 12pm to 5pm, in Watlington and interested parties are invited to come along and discover more about us and our Green Plan."


We are seeking researchers from the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University. The researchers can be from any discipline and at any career stage from post-graduate study onwards. We are particularly keen to hear from researchers whose work is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. You do not need to have previous experience in Public Engagement with Research in order to participate, the only essential requirement is that you are open to working with diverse community groups in an equitable manner, valuing all forms of knowledge and embracing new modes of working as part of an exploratory pilot programme.


We are looking for public engagement support staff from across the University of Oxford, Garden, Libraries and Museums, Oxford Brookes University and Oxford City Council. The facilitators role is to support the developing community/researcher partnerships and act as ‘creative agents’ - spotting potential areas of common interest and asking the right questions at the right time to help the projects progress. We are keen to hear from anyone with experience in public engagement with research and community engagement, who can use these skills to foster partnerships and ensure the collaborative research projects are grounded in community needs, interests and opportunities.


This pilot programme is funded until the end of March 2022. Each project team will be given a budget to develop their collaborative project, and the community group partners will be paid for their time. There is funding for a celebration event at the end of the programme. All programme costs are covered so participation in the programme is free for researchers and facilitators. 


Local Science Engagement Programme Application (

Please be advised that this is a small scale pilot programme so places are limited. If we receive more applications than we can accommodate then participants will be selected to ensure a range of disciplines and career stages are represented. The Programme Advisory Group will oversee this process, with a view to selecting a range of participants that are best able to support the community groups signed up to the programme.

For any queries please contact Oli Moore, Science Engagement Facilitator,