Research Champions Thames Valley and South Midlands

Research Champions are members of the public who volunteer their time to spread the word about health and care research to the public and help healthcare staff understand more about the experiences of those who take part in research. This website is about the Research Champions programme in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire, administered by the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands.

About Research Champions

“Having spent a lifetime being cared for by the NHS, I want to give back where I can. I am aware that without research no progress is made in any field." - Dianna Moylan, Research Champion

Research Champions volunteer their time to help the NIHR Clinical Research Network spread the word about health and care research to patients and the public, and especially those groups who are currently less likely to take part in research.

They also help research and healthcare staff understand more about the experiences of those who take part in research. Through their important work, Research Champions help us promote research in health and care services, and across society more widely.

Research Champions are from across England and include patients, carers, members of the public, and people who have taken part in a research trial before, as well as those who haven’t. Something that they all have in common is that they are passionate about getting more people involved in research so that we can develop better care and treatment for everyone.

Research Champions are connected to one of the NIHR Clinical Research Network’s fifteen Local Clinical Research Networks across the country, or to a Partner Organisation that delivers research, like a GP Practice or a hospital.

Who can be a Research Champion?

All Research Champions:

  • Are passionate about improving health and care through research.

  • Are members of the public, including patients and carers.

  • Are keen to speak to members of the public to build their awareness of research.

  • Are willing and able to follow processes to help keep themselves and others safe and help us run the scheme in an organised way.

  • Are willing to attend an induction and ask their staff contact if they need guidance and support throughout their volunteering.

  • In addition, sometimes Research Champions might be recruited from particular social groups such as young people or from specific ethnic groups in order to help build research awareness in communities where evidence has found awareness to be lower.

What do Research Champions do?

Research Champions may volunteer to do one or more activities from the list below:

  • Talk to patients and the public about health and care research e.g. by giving talks, hosting coffee mornings, creating play events or hosting stands within the local community, visiting health services.

  • Promote the Be Part of Research campaign to patient, public groups and help people find out about research studies they can take part in.

  • Promote the Join Dementia Research website and the importance of dementia research to the public.

  • Co-design materials to raise public awareness of health and care research like posters and leaflets.

  • Collect general feedback about taking part in research from participants.

  • Visit local health and care organisations to tell people about health and care research and encourage them to connect with local research teams.

  • Take part in local actions to mark International Clinical Trials Day and health awareness days e.g. a good time to promote arthritis research would be during National Arthritis Week.

  • Write about their experiences of participating in health and care research for the NIHR blog or other platforms.

  • Speak to interest or patient groups about health and care research.

  • Raise awareness amongst friends and family about research and being a champion for taking part in health and care research amongst people you know.

"Hopefully my participation can add to ongoing research, even though I won’t necessarily be around at the time when researchers have an answer. It’s all quite fascinating.” - Crad Allerton, Research Champion

Support and development:

  • All Research Champions have a main staff contact locally who will be there to help you with any practical issues around your volunteering, and generally support you in your role.

  • Everyone who wants to become a Research Champion must complete a sign up form and attend a short induction. This will give you all the practical information you need to volunteer and it will also show you where you can learn more about health and social care research if you want to. If you are especially interested in promoting dementia research, you will also need to attend our Join Dementia Research induction module.

  • After your induction you will be able, if you want to, to join NIHR Learn, a dedicated online learning community to connect you with other Research Champions, as well as access to many more online learning resources to support you in your role.

  • You will be offered other activities to support your development as a Research

  • Champion in your local network, and your point of contact will tell you about these. This could include regional forums to meet other Research Champions.

Expenses:

This is a voluntary role. Your travel and other reasonable expenses will be reimbursed.

Time commitment and length of role:

There is no minimum requirement for the level of activities you undertake and you can be involved for as long as you like.

Other opportunities:

There are many ways you can get involved in health and social care research, in addition to being a Research Champion. You will be told about these opportunities. These could be one-off activities or other roles you could apply for in addition to being a Research Champion. You can also look out for other opportunities on the People in Research website .

How to get involved

Please complete our expression of interest form to express your interest in becoming a champion. Suitable applicants will need to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and a short occupational health questionnaire. If you wish to know more contact Cora Reilly-McGeown on Cora.Reilly-McGeown@ouh.nhs.uk / 01865 223262.

"I want to ensure that things that matter most to people living with a spinal cord injury are researched and that when research is undertaken the message gets out so people can realise the benefits of it." - Christa Dyson, Research Champion

Queries: 01865 227252 or comms.crnthamesvalley@nihr.ac.uk