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The Ideas Fund project funding announcement

23.09.21 By Beth-Louise Sturdee

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The Ideas Fund has today announced the 42 projects it will be funding following the first round of grant applications received earlier this year. The initial application round received a total of 146 applications with 42 projects having now been selected to receive funding. The projects feature a broad range of topics from sport, nature and nutrition to issues faced by disabled, refugee and LGBTQ+ communities.

The Ideas Fund is a new grants scheme, run by the British Science Association and funded by the Wellcome Trust, that enables the UK public to develop and try out ideas that address problems related to mental wellbeing through collaborating with professional researchers.

The initial application round received a total of 146 applications with 42 projects having now been selected to receive funding. The projects feature a broad range of topics from sport, nature and nutrition to issues faced by disabled, refugee and LGBTQ+ communities.

Up to £1.6m of grant funding has been awarded including grants of up to £25,000 to help develop ideas that are at a very early stage and larger grants of around £90,000 to support, adapt and expand ideas that have already been developed and tested.

All of the projects involve local communities working with researchers in the four UK locations that The Ideas Fund operates: the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, Hull, North West Northern Ireland, and Oldham.

The Ideas Fund has made an exciting start in enabling communities in the UK that have been overlooked by health research in the past, to take the lead in developing and trying out ideas that address problems related to mental wellbeing. The Fund has been extended until 2023, with a further £1.9m being made available by Wellcome for additional grants.

This extra funding will deepen the reach and impact of The Ideas Fund in the four UK locations, and will further diversify the portfolio of grants, thus raising the profile of what’s possible when communities and researchers work together.

The Fund aims to do things differently by delivering funding using a participatory, equitable approach and to break down barriers for communities looking to engage with researchers, and to support them in having a more active voice in research on issues that matter to them. Our local Development Coordinators in each area are available to support applicants, and funding decisions were taken by a panel which included members of the community from each region.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a spotlight on the dangers of misinformation, and it is not unexpected that many communities have been left with a lack of trust in health research and researchers more widely. Building back trust in science and enabling communities to have an active voice in this work has never been more important.

Delivered by the British Science Association (BSA) and funded by Wellcome, the Fund supports the BSA’s belief that science is about ideas that can and should come from anywhere and Wellcome’s commitment to funding ideas that empower people, lead to better research and enable science to solve urgent health challenges. Reaching individuals and groups who have been overlooked by health research in the past is a key aim of the Fund – particularly in rural or minority ethnic communities, amongst the young, marginalised and socioeconomically disadvantaged people.

Katherine Mathieson, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, said “I am delighted with the response we have had to The Ideas Fund, and the fantastic projects we have been able to support in this first stage of funding.
Reaching individuals and groups who have been overlooked by health research in the past is a key aim of the Fund – particularly in rural or minority ethnic communities and amongst young people – so I am incredibly excited to see the next stage of these projects and what they are able to achieve.’’

The 42 projects that have been funded are:

North West Northern Ireland

Eight projects have been granted funding totaling £343,000 which are listed below:

  • Dennett Valley She Shed
  • Informing Choices NI: www.informingchoicesni.org
  • Sole Purpose Productions: www.solepurpose.org
  • The Junction: www.thejunction-ni.org
  • The Yellow Wood Group
  • Youth Action Northern Ireland: www.youthaction.org
  • Parenting NI: www.parentingni.org
  • Far and Wild: www.farandwild.org

Youth Action Northern Ireland is a youth charity that inspires young people to find their true potential and excel in areas such as performing arts, youth work, education, business, technology and international affairs. They will develop their Lifemaps programme, and use youth peer researchers to understand more about mental wellbeing.

Roisin McLaughlin, The Ideas Fund Development Coordinator for North West Northern Ireland said, “We are delighted that eight projects have been funded through The Ideas Fund in the Derry City & Strabane District Council area. The project ideas are wide-ranging and will help people of all ages and backgrounds. This funding is very timely for us as the impact of COVID has increased the need for mental wellbeing initiatives in the area. We look forward to supporting the projects and to see the relationships develop between the researchers and communities as they work together.”

Highlands and Islands of Scotland

Thirteen projects have been granted funding totaling £505,000 which are listed below:

  • Ewen’s Room: www.ewensroom.com
  • Lucky2BHere: www.lucky2bhere.org
  • Green Tree Arts Studio: www.greentreeartsstudio.co.uk
  • Stronsay Development Trust: www.orkneycommunities.co.uk/sdt
  • Lyth Arts Centre: www.lytharts.org.uk
  • Voluntary Action Shetland: www.shetland-communities.org.uk/vas/
  • Scottish Ballet: www.scottishballet.co.uk
  • North Lands Creative: www.northlandscreative.co.uk
  • Aultbea Community Council
  • LEAP Sports Scotland: www.leapsports.org
  • Great Glen Cattle Ranch
  • Mental Wellbeing Project – Isle of Gigha
  • Moray Wellbeing Hub: www.moraywellbeinghub.org.uk

OPEN Space Project, Voluntary Action Shetland conducts youth-led research and analysis on the creation of a new safe space for young people in Lerwick, where they can come together, and feel a sense of belonging and ownership. Their work focuses on peer education and mentoring plus they run an emotional wellbeing and resilience project and Café. The researchers will be involved in training and supporting young people.

Lewis Hou, The Ideas Fund Development Coordinator for the Scottish Highlands and Islands and Founder and Director at Science Ceilidh said, ‘'We at Science Ceilidh are so excited about the sheer breadth of projects funded in this first Ideas Fund round which is testament to the brilliant work led by communities already around wellbeing and research happening across the Highlands and Islands. From Shetland to the Isle of Gigha, we have projects ranging from young people co-researching who gets to benefit from the nature on their doorsteps to groups exploring the links between wellbeing and culture - including people living with Multiple Sclerosis running an action research project on dance and their own mental wellbeing and the value of sports for LGBTQ communities living rurally. This is such an opportunity for new ways of working between communities and researchers which values the voice of both fully and I can't wait to see how it all develops!.''

Oldham

Nine projects have been granted funding totaling £319,000 which are listed below:

  • Pennine Mencap: www.penninemencap.org
  • The Proud Trust: www.theproudtrust.org
  • New Bridge Group: www.newbridgegroup.org
  • Oldham Libraries
  • Get up and Grow: www.facebook.com/getupandgrowNW
  • Oldham Athletics Community Trust: www.oldhamathletic.co....
  • Oldham Coliseum Theatre: www.coliseum.org.uk
  • Renaissance Oldham CIC: www.renaissanceoldhamcic.org
  • Made by Mortals: www.madebymortals.org

Oldham Athletic Community Trust is a project designed to connect retired or nearly retired Oldham Athletic football fans through sharing memories, walking and watching classic matches. Researchers will support project development and provide insights on maintaining memory and wellbeing.

Paolo Arru, The Ideas Fund Development Coordinator for Oldham and Project Manager (Public Engagement) at Vocal said, “At Vocal we’re thrilled about the inspiring projects that have been funded in Oldham. The breadth of activities, from the links between nutrition and mental health to addressing social isolation with adults with a learning disability through creativity, will help to start new and diverse community-lead conversations about mental health. We believe that the collaborations between health researchers and community groups will help to increase understanding and will support growth of community-led approaches across the UK. We’re also very excited to see how these partnerships will influence the wider research sector. Congratulations again to all funded projects and I look forward to working closely with you all!”

Hull

Twelve projects have bene granted funding totaling of £417,000 which are listed below:

  • The Hull Roundheads RUFC: www.roundheadsrufc.co.uk
  • Butterflies Memory Loss Support Group: www.butterflies.org.uk
  • Neighborhood Network: www.nnetwork.org.uk
  • Hull Community Church: www.hullcommunitychurch.com
  • Bameen: www.bameen.org.uk
  • Borashabaa Refugee Community Organisation: www.borashabaa.org.uk
  • The Friends of Alderman Kneeshaw Park
  • Friends of Garrowby Orchard
  • HU4 Community Network Group
  • Rewilding Youth
  • Fitmums and Friends: www.fitmums.org.uk

The Hull Roundheads RUFC is a gay and inclusive rugby club will work with researchers to understand barriers to participation and wellbeing benefits and share these stories more widely.

Gill Hughes, The Ideas Fund Development Coordinator for Hull said, ‘’In Hull we have been privileged to be part of The Ideas Fund. We were really excited to be involved in an innovative opportunity to do things differently in terms of funding, which starts by working with community groups, who developed ideas for needs-led projects to create mental wellbeing. This is even more crucial as we come through the global pandemic. What has made it extra special is that the Fund is about building relationships by matching communities with researchers to exchange lived and learnt knowledge and experience. We think this will make the projects richer and offer further opportunities to create impact and change now, but also develop beyond the life of the programme. The Ideas Fund approach is already becoming a catalyst within the University of Hull to influence other initiatives with its ethos and approach. As Development Coordinators we are really looking forward to working with the partnerships to support the achievement of their amazing ideas’’.