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Community Research Hub

How can you  volunteer through the Community Research Hub?

The Community Research Hub at Royal Holloway is a new, pilot initiative that provides students with opportunities to partner with charities and other external organisations for mutual benefit. For students, benefits might include:

  • Applying classroom learning to real-world settings.
  • Developing research-related skills.
  • Extra-curricular CV content.
  • Having exposure to contacts, data and scenarios which can often be used as a basis for publications and further research.
  • Earning Passport Award points.
  • PhD students’ participation in Community Research Hub activities contributes to their Research Development Programme training requirements (five days/yr).
  • NB: AHRC-funded PhD students can extend their funding when pursuing development opportunities such as these. Email for more information.

Please see below for the latest requests and opportunities, and register your interest by emailing the Community Research Hub.

Disability Challengers - URGENT!

The charity Challengers has an exciting opportunity for students in September 2017. They are offering a select number of voluntary roles to students interested in research, psychology and working with young people. 

Following on from an extremely successful pilot year, the Challengers Children and Young Person Engagement project is looking to grow.

What is the Challengers Engagement Project?

The Challengers Engagement Project aims to gather feedback about the Challengers' service from the service user. Funded by the department of health for three years, and equipped with a range of accessible research methods, they are on a mission to make the voice of the children and young people heard. As one of the first organisations to undertake such research with a vulnerable group of people they are determined to pioneer and explore new ways that such voices can be heard.

 What’s in it for students?

Previous volunteers have said:

“I have also found this experience extremely rewarding, as I feel that it is of the utmost importance to allow everyone who uses Challengers to express their feelings, wants and needs in regards to the service that is provided”.

“It has helped me grow in confidence with my research skills and to come up with new ideas on how we can conduct research”.

“I have learned that creating an agile and complex toolkit which can be adapted to different styles of engagement requires an iterative, multi-layered process…. Working with the Challengers research team and the children has helped me understand the potential of carrying out research and creating a communication channel through play” 

Timescale: September 2017

Spelthorne Borough Council

Spelthorne Borough Council have got an interesting research opportunity for a student, involving a campaign to bring Spelthorne railway stations into Zone 6.

SBC have been campaigning for a number of years to have Zone 6 extended to incorporate the borough, and are now in a situation where there is a new train operator taking over in August. They have had meetings with the new operator, but they are not going to look at changing their service to include Spelthorne in the Oyster card or Zone 6 unless a case can be proven for this. There are 13 stations further away from London than Staines that are already included in Zone 6; arguably these stations are less justified to be included than Staines, with its historical links to London and proximity to Heathrow Airport.

There are many reasons this would benefit Staines and Spelthorne as a whole, which is why there is a desperate need to get the research done. Recruitment in the borough is an issue, with many local schools and companies struggling to attract the talent and skills needed. If Spelthorne was in Zone 6 it would be able to compete for the skilled employees in West London. Furthermore, roads would be less congested as many companies have stated that not only would they be able to recruit new staff but current staff would leave their cars at home, so there is an environmental advantage as well as an economic one.

Furrther info can be found on the Get Surrey website

Please get in touch by emailing communityresearchhub@rhul.ac.uk if you would like to find out more about how you could volunteer your research skills to make a very meaningful impact upon our local community, or to ask any further questions.

Timescale: ASAP.

Runnymede Borough Council

Runnymede Borough Council are looking for volunteers to research into a range of topics that relate to social work and social policy, and identify any unmet needs for health and social care within our borough.

RBC’s top priority is to look into children and teenagers with autism and learning disabilities and their access to activities, particularly in the areas of relative deprivation.

An assessment of what provision is available in Runnymede and adjacent boroughs is needed, followed by a report on where the gap is. The hope is that your findings will prompt either the development of a new charity, or the extension of an existing charity (if there is one identified in the needs assessment) to meet these unmet needs.

In addition to this piece of research there are other areas that need investigating if there are sufficient volunteers to carry it out:

•  Research on the condition of private rented properties in an area of relative deprivation

•  Research on action that can be taken to counter isolation of older people in an area of relative deprivation

•   The impact of the loss of a voluntary organisation; for example, the recent closure of Age UK Runnymede and Spelthorne

•   Assessing the demand for a new Community Interest Company

Please get in touch by emailing communityresearchhub@rhul.ac.uk if you would like to get involved, or have any further questions.

Timescale: flexible

Voluntary Support North Surrey 

Voluntary Support North Surrey is an independent charity which improves the lives of the people in the boroughs of Surrey Heath, Spelthorne and Runnymede, by:

• promoting voluntary work

• supporting voluntary and community organisations

• being a voice for the voluntary sector

• identifying gaps in provision of services

They work with voluntary and community organisations, statutory agencies and the business community. They have only recently started to deliver their services in Spelthorne, and are interested in looking at the needs of voluntary groups in this area.

Timescale: The reserach to be completed by the start of November 2017.

Community Foundation for Surrey - URGENT! 

Community Foundation for Surrey (CFS) is an independent charitable trust that facilitates local giving for local needs. CFS has provided over £6.6million into communities across the county and is seeking to more fully demonstrate how the Foundation’s grants are helping address local issues.

CFS is looking for student volunteer(s) – most likely postgraduates - to analyse and summarise existing, primarily quantitative data, in order to provide some key conclusions around set themes that will demonstrate the Foundation’s impact. In addition to skills development, students will experience being based in a working charity environment for 4-6 weeks (not necessarily as a block). 

Timescale: ASAP 

Age UK Surrey

Age UK Surrey is looking for:

1) Postgraduate student(s) – most likely from Management – to research relative benefits/costs of retail opportunities that could provide additional revenue for Age UK Surrey (eg charity shop, online, second-hand furniture, etc.).
Timescale: flexible

2) Postgraduate student(s) – most likely from Management – to conduct a costs/benefits analysis of the services Age UK Surrey provides.
Timescale: flexible

3) Postgraduate student(s) to provide an overview of befriending provision in Surrey in order to identify shortfalls and opportunities for improving joined-up provision. And/or an overview of approaches to tackling social isolation among older people and opportunities for Age UK Surrey to fill gaps.
Timescale: flexible

4) A postgraduate student – most likely from Computer Science - to help improve the charity’s database’s functioning.
Timescale: flexible

Healthwatch Surrey 

Healthwatch Surrey is part of a national network of independent watchdogs that gather users’ perspectives of local health and social care provision. Local authorities have a statutory obligation to provide the core funding for their local Healthwatch.

The charity is looking for a postgraduate student to carry out desk-based research, possibly involving interviews with interested parties (including voluntary organisations in Surrey), around the process of public consultations within health and social care.  In particular, it wants to focus on recent consultations by Surrey County Council, looking at how the process works, how the public are informed and involved, how responses are dealt with, the process by which the Council is accountable and any transparency around what they do as a result of public response, how the response to a consultation goes through the Council democratic processes, etc.  What are the statutory requirements (if any)? Is there any case law that applies or examples of particularly good practice from elsewhere?  Do all Councils follow the same process or do they vary?  Ultimately - what makes for a good public consultation that genuinely takes public views into account? Legal expertise isn’t necessary – just attention to the basic legal context.

Timescale: flexible

Future Opportunities 

Please get in touch (communityresearchhub@rhul.ac.uk) if you’d be interested in working with either of these organisations once the opportunities’ details are confirmed:

• What About the Children (a charity that campaigns for the needs and rights of children aged 0-3)
• Runnymede & Spelthorne Citizens Advice Bureau


How can our researchers help your organisation?

Are you a charity, community organisation, campaign group or other not for profit organisation in need of research to support your work? Find out more on our Looking for Volunteers webpage.



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