The Researcher, edition 4

Building Communities


A personal opinion by award-winning writer Rob Young.

NHS R&D North West are a core team of health and education professionals sharing over 80 years of combined experience. We work closely with a cherry – picked list of over thirty associates, whose specialisms range from all things creative to scientific, to make sure we always bring the right people together to make a project happen. Our main goal is to provide strategic support to build research, development, and innovation capacity throughout health and social care organisations in the region. To collectively optimise R&D in terms of personnel and processes, we uphold our values by using our five C’s approach which focuses on building and maintaining Capacity, Collaboration, Community, Creativity and Connections , in health and social care research. We can help at any stage of the research journey, whether it’s the contemplation of a research career or the completion of a research project. To support development, we aim to fuel people and organisations with a passion for research and help them to connect with like minded people. We are constantly curious about the world of R&D and how we can promote, support, engage, communicate, develop and enhance the culture in health research. We walk on the edge of the system looking out to discover the unknown and experiment with ideas that we can then share with our wider community and hopefully contribute in our own small way to the advancement of health research.

To build a community, we must first define what one is. We are all familiar with the word but what does it actually mean? Is it a concept, an aspiration or a precise demographic? The answer, like the word itself, is complex. To one person it’s a political movement, to another it’s tea with their granny. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a community is defined as ‘people who are considered as a unit because of their common interests, social group or nationality’. But is it possible to put an artificial boundary around any disparate group?

For example, the term ‘BAME community’ is often used to band together a truly diverse range of individuals but in the real-world, what bonds a third-generation British-Asian GP in Aberdeen to a Somalian child-refugee in Dover? Are those two people really part of the same ‘community’? In my opinion, no, because the distilled essence of community is interaction, and heart, and you cannot create those on a spreadsheet. ‘a community is defined as “people who are considered as a unit”’ So how do we build a community that has heart? The answer is simple: by making people feel welcome. By creating a safe arena and inviting people to join. By making sure no community is ring fenced. By acknowledging that we are equal members of ‘the community of humans’. Building a community is not a exercise in social logistics, it’s just good old-fashioned manners. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about a major health initiative or a WhatsApp group of 3, the same principles apply. You open up a conversation where every voice is valid, then celebrate what unites the group, not isolates it. by Rob Young

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NHS R&D North West

An award-winning writer & Editor in Chief for The Researcher Magazine

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