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NHS England Funds Extension of ICS Research Engagement Network Programme

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NHS England Funds Extension of ICS Research Engagement Network Programme

The Public Involvement and Engagement leads from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) infrastructure across Greater Manchester are thrilled to announce the securing of funding from NHS England, to continue the Integrated Care Systems (ICS) Research Engagement Network (REN) Programme until March 2024.


The project focuses on establishing a community-led research network that actively listens and responds to the health and priorities of diverse communities across Greater Manchester, fostering inclusivity in research.


Built on insights gained from the initial phase, the programme has identified key areas of focus. Feedback from research and Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) partners emphasised the need for a respectful research charter to guide collaborative partnership working.


Additionally, the importance of community connectors, a skills/knowledge exchange between the VCFSE sector and researchers, and the potential for a VCFSE-led community research hub were highlighted.


The three primary objectives of the program are as follows:


  1. To increase the opportunity for more people to get involved in research by improving how researchers engage with diverse communities about specific projects.
  2. To create an infrastructure to sustain long-term reciprocal relationships that build trust between communities and researchers.
  3. To gain a better understanding of who is getting involved in research by developing a system for monitoring participation.


Sue Wood, Head of NIHR Applied Research Collaboration, commented:


“If we are to put the voices of those most at need at the heart of research that tackles inequalities in health and care, we need to build trust and sustainable relationships with our most vulnerable communities. Only in working in partnership with the VCFSE sector and the Integrated Cares System will research organisations begin to create the networks essential to breaking down the barriers to inclusive research.” 


What we have done so far:


  • We held an online seminars and face-to-face event, engaging participants from research and VCSE organisations. Small group discussions explored themes such as a respectful charter for research, community connectors, VCFSE-led research hubs, and skills exchange.
  • Started the mapping of community connectors across Greater Manchester with the assistance of research and VCFSE networks.
  • Developing a draft Respectful Research Charter for review by VCFSE Leadership.


This initiative aims to make research more inclusive and impactful, fostering collaboration between research organisations, the voluntary sector, and community voices to support healthcare planning and delivery within Greater Manchester.


If you or your organisation works with Community Connectors (trusted people within the community who engage and involve local residents in research) we would like to hear from you. Please email:


Find out more...


Published 16/11/2023


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