27 Oct 2023

The partnership, called the Southwest London Health Research Collaborative is led by the Southwest London Integrated Care Board. It includes researchers from Southwest London's academic institutions, acute and community NHS trusts, NIHR ARC South London, Clinical Research Network South London, Health Innovation Network as well as colleagues from the South London Partnership and local voluntary sector organisations through the South West London Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Alliance.

Together the partnership aims to build local, diverse participation in the design and delivery of health and care research, across all boroughs in southwest London.

They aim to do this through piloting ‘research cafés’, an informal gathering where people can come together to discuss and exchange ideas related to research, in a relaxed and open atmosphere, usually over tea and coffee. Research cafés provide a safe space for diverse groups to find out more about research, share their lived experience and get involved in research. They can also improve health literacy.   

Using the research café model, the partnership aims to increase the diversity of public participation and involvement in research, initially in relation to mental health studies. They will encourage local people and communities to develop the skills and confidence to become involved in and lead research themselves, building trust and improving the relevance and uptake of research findings. 

We want to address systemic challenges facing research in addressing social exclusion and inequality in southwest London. We believe research cafes can bring researchers closer to our communities and empower them to steer research. The aim is to provide more opportunities for inclusive participation for those from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities in research designed around local health and care needs. Insights from the cafes could help shape future healthcare planning, giving participants a greater say in their care

Dr Josephine Ocloo

Dr Josephine Ocloo, senior research fellow, King’s College London and equity, diversity and inclusion lead at ARC South London

As part of this work, the partnership will set up an Inclusivity Network with local communities through voluntary alliance partners to build awareness of and expand opportunities to take part in research. They will also train and mentor peer researchers to carry out future research studies.

The partnership bid was led Dr Catherine Heffernan, Director of Health Improvement at Southwest London Integrated Care Board and ARC members including Dr Josephine Ocloo, Zoë Lelliott and Dr Natasha Curran. It was successful in gaining £92,000 funding. The pilot will run until April 2024. 

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