Keep Talking was a UKRI Enhancing Partnerships for Place-Based Engagement funded project, led by Staffordshire University and Expert Citizens between December 2019 and 31st August 2020.
The original aims of Keep Talking were to understand how universities and community partners can develop sustainable structures for people to engage in long term, place-based research, with a specific focus on working with community researchers. Staffordshire University partnered with Expert Citizens CIC, an organisation that supports people with lived experience of homelessness, substance misuse, domestic violence and poverty. While both organisations had experience of working with people with lived experience as community researchers, we were keen to explore issues of sustained support for community researchers, capacity building and increasing our impact and reach through partnership working. We outlined the following research questions:
• What do community researchers need to sustain involvement?
• Where should community research teams ‘sit’ to best meet needs of communities?
• What support can universities offer community organisations to engage publics with meaningful, locally relevant research?
Keep Talking built on a previous participatory research project, Get Talking Hardship, led by Staffordshire University and commissioned by Voices and Stoke-on-Trent’s Hardship Commission. We were keen for the learning from this project to support the Hardship Commission in their aim to extend Get Talking Hardship through continued engagement with the community research team. We therefore had an additional question specific to our place:
• What learning can the Hardship Commission take to embed community research into their long-term strategy for tackling Hardship in Stoke-on-Trent?
We worked with two existing community research teams, members of the Get Talking Hardship community research team and members of Expert Citizens CIC, as partners to address these questions. This partnership and the participatory and collaborative process of the research were as important in achieving the aims as the research findings themselves.
The full project report for Keep Talking can be found here: Gratton 2020 Keep Talking: Impact and Recommendations Report