Community Health Roadshows Highlight Northwest London’s Commitment to Inclusive Health Research

Graphic illustration capturing health roadshow insights

In a significant step towards inclusive health research, our Integrated Care Systems (ICS) Research Engagement Network Development (REN) I programme, funded by NHS England, conducted 10 community engagement health roadshows across Northwest London, attracting 1,200 community members. This initiative, which saw 600 health checks and 300 surveys completed by community members, revealed a strong interest in research participation among diverse communities from less affluent areas, with 75% of respondents expressing a desire to engage in research. In partnership with Paddington Life Sciences Partners, the findings were shared at the IQVIA health inequalities summit, offering innovative solutions to increase diversity in research trials. 

Building on Success

Following the success of ICS REN I, our Ethnicity and Health Unit secured £320k in funding from NHS England for REN II and III projects. REN II expanded community outreach with 18 roadshows across Brent, Hillingdon, Hounslow, and Ealing, supported by 25 trained local Community Research Champions. These events reached 1,566 community members, 71% from ethnically diverse backgrounds. Notably, 192 attendees joined the NIHR Clinical Research Network NWL’s Research Heroes Study, demonstrating the program's impact on fostering diversity in health research. 

Sharing our Learnings

We developed significant knowledge from our ICS REN programmes in terms of recruiting and supporting Community Research Champions, with our team continuing to identify areas for improvement.  We collated this information including documents, successes and challenges into this ICS REN CRC Handbook, which has since been shared with 250 people including other ICS REN projects, Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement teams and community partners throughout London.

Communities Engaged by Borough:

Several Community Research Champions went on to work for the NHS in varying capacities, with eight joining our Public and Patient Advisory Group.  See our short video developed by one of our Community Research Champions on the importance of tackling the underlying causes of health inequalities by understanding the barriers to health, and ultimately improve access to health and social care research for all. 

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ICS REN III: Addressing Barriers for Young Participants

The REN III project focused on overcoming barriers to research participation for children and young people, particularly from underrepresented groups. The initiative included co-developed interventions including training workshops for researchers and interactive sessions with young people and their families to identify and mitigate participation barriers. 

Twenty health researchers across a variety of research disciplines answered the needs assessment survey, 19 of whom attended the training workshops. Two workshops were held, attended by all key local partners and infrastructure bodies. The EHU, via the ICS REN III project, was commissioned to support engagement and evaluation work in early years integrated care and health inequalities. 

Eight meetings/workshops were held: three with young people, three with parents/carers, one with intergenerational family groups and one with staff/volunteers from one community partner. In total, 102 people attended workshops focusing on barriers from children and young people’s perspectives. 

Sixty attendees were adults, 42 were young people, six were under 12, 32 were aged 11 – 17 and 4 were aged 18-24. Attendees came from Somali, Bangladeshi, Lebanese, Afghan, Iranian, Syrian, Sudanese, White British, Eastern European, and Caribbean heritages. 

The Mohn Centre, a project partner, has launched an annual forum for sharing best practices in engaging young people in research. 

The Ethnicity & Health Unit Conference

The Ethnicity & Health Unit (EHU) Conference, held on June 26, 2024, marked a significant milestone in advancing health equity for ethnically diverse communities. The conference brought together 70 attendees from over 50 organisations, uniting a diverse array of participants from academia to charity organisations to the voluntary sector. 

The conference underscored the success of initiatives including the ICS REN programmes, effectively connecting with communities through localised roadshows. Attendees delved into the challenges of these initiatives, while also celebrating their triumphs in fostering genuine community participation. Emphasising a bottom-up approach, the summit showcased the importance of culturally specific engagement, sustainable partnerships, and the mobilisation of local leaders. 

Through this collaborative effort, the EHU continues to drive forward the mission of achieving health equality for all.  

A Call to Action 

The success of these programs underscores the importance of sustained, strategic funding to continue improving health outcomes for minority ethnic communities. As we look to scale these efforts nationally, we invite industry partners, community organisations, and health researchers to join us in this mission. By working together, we can ensure that our research truly reflects the diversity of our population, leading to more equitable health outcomes for all. 

For more information on how to get involved or support these initiatives see our Ethnicity & Health Unit Brochure, or contact the NIHR ARC NWL Ethnicity and Health Unit ( 

Get Involved Today! Help us make a difference in health research by participating in our programmes, becoming a Community Research Champion, a Public Partner or an ARC Outreach Alliance's Young People’s Advisory Group member, or supporting our funding initiatives. Your contribution can help shape a healthier, more inclusive future for Northwest London and beyond. 

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