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Voluntary and Charitable

These case studies highlight where researchers have worked with partners in the third sector which includes charities, voluntary organisations, community groups and social enterprises. Engaging such stakeholders in research, will help ensure it has greater relevance and generate impact for society and the economy.

Professor Irene Hardill: is Director of the Northumbria Centre for Civil Society and Citizenship. Her research has sought to understand volunteer motivation and the role of volunteers in voluntary and community sector organisations. Integral to achieving impact and also opening up new research opportunities is engaging with users such as the Disability Rights Commission and Age UK. Coverage by the media from an ESRC press release has also opened up new opportunities.

Professor Cathy Pharoah: is from the ESRC Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy (CGAP). Stakeholder engagement with policy and practice is at the heart of the centre’s objectives and CGAP has worked hard to develop a national and international network of relationships. Part of the centre’s desired long term impact is to identify and to demonstrate to charities, big and small, how good research can benefit them

Professor Rhodri Williams: from the University of Swansea changed the direction of his research from the rheology of industrial engineering fluids to rheology of blood coagulation through a chance meeting. As a result, Swansea is now seen as a world-leading centre in this field and him and his colleagues have two spin-out two companies, and are having a clinical impact in local hospitals. He now regularly engages with a wide variety of users including the general public, as the feedback he receives from them has been invaluable to his research.

Professor Nicky Gregson: Professor Nicky Gregson at Durham University never anticipated that research into waste and global recycling could produce such creative and innovative pathways to impact which has led to the making of two films, a photography exhibition and a school play. Professor Gregson was keen to explore a variety of pathways to impact and together with her team, the Geographical Association, as well as a ship breaking project team began working with a Sheffield school and took a group of children to ship breaking in progress. Unintentionally the children became part of a parallel research project based on the poignant and revealing interviews conducted by the school children with the veterans of the ship that was being salvaged.

Professor Tom Sorrell: Professor Tom Sorrell at the University of Birmingham is a philosopher working with an economist and a social policy researcher. He emphasises how important it is to think about different audiences and how to reach them. He explains that he has recently enlisted the help of an impact fellow who will be exclusively dedicated to building networks and facilitating knowledge exchange between the research team and end-users. Professor Sorrel believes that philosophy should engage with people’s lives and knows that mixing philosophy with policy has the best chance of having an impact; he hopes that by using an impact fellow he can greatly magnify that impact.

Professor John Wolffe and Professor Arthur Burns: Professor John Wolffe and Professor Arthur Burns pondered how to make historical research relevant to today’s society. In partnership with the Anglican Diocese of London and Lambeth Palace Library, they have developed an on-line resource to help parish clergy and lay people research their own church history. Professor Wolffe stresses the importance of taking a flexible approach to pathways to impact and has been gratified that as a result of his research, he has received further funding to extend his engagement activities to other places of worship in London.

Dr Stephen Cavers: Dr Steven Cavers at the NERC centre for Ecology and Hydrology led a project studying the process of evolution in pine trees native to the UK, which aims to help commercial growers produce stronger, more resilient varieties of pine trees. Dr Cavers has established contacts with Forest Research, the Forestry Commission’s research arm, which communicates with a wide national network of tree planters to understand what research stakeholders consider important; he has also implemented a skills development plan to improve the communication skills of the project researchers and to proactively create opportunities to interact with end users.

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