The Ideas Fund has today announced the 42 projects it will be funding following the first round of grant applications received earlier this year, including nine based in Oldham.

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.

In Oldham, the nine projects that have been selected have received funding totaling £319,000.

The organisations are:
· Pennine Mencap:
· The Proud Trust:
· New Bridge Group:
· Oldham Libraries
· Get up and Grow:
· Oldham Athletics Community Trust:
· Oldham Coliseum Theatre:
· Renaissance Oldham CIC:
· Made by Mortals:

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-led 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!”

Up to £1.6m of grant funding has been awarded to projects working in the UK 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.

One of the projects that has been funded in Oldham, includes the Oldham Athletic Community Trust – an organisation that is working to connect retired or nearly retired Oldham Athletic football fans through sharing memories, walking and watching classic matches. The Fund will be supporting a new project for the Trust, which will see local researchers providing insights on how the Trust can maintain memory and wellbeing of its members.

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.

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.’’


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