Project Director: Susan Hampshaw (Doncaster Council)
Project Duration: 2022-2027
Doncaster is the largest metropolitan borough by area in England. It has an industrial past and highs levels of deprivation. This presents a significant challenge in connecting people, places and businesses to economic and social opportunities. The COVID pandemic exacerbated these issues. During 2020, Doncaster Council delivered a Local Authority Research System project. It found that staff lacked time, funding, confidence and capacity to either carry out research or use its findings, nevertheless staff understood the value of research activity.
Local government is well placed to address inequalities and factors that cause ill health, for example, whether we live in a safe and warm house. Evidence from research can be used by local government in its decision making. But there are challenges:
- Firstly, we do not fully understand the factors that influence health and wellbeing.
- Secondly, local government does not always use research evidence to support decisions because of our systems and processes and sometimes because the evidence does not seem relevant to the place context.
The Doncaster Health Determinants Research Collaboration (HDRC) funded by NIHR will address these challenges.
- Firstly, it will develop skills in people and in the Council to bring together research evidence combined with what is known locally, in part of a decision-making conversation.
- Secondly, it will develop skills and processes to do research which will help the Council understand the factors that influence population health and wellbeing. This will begin by identifying research questions that are important to Doncaster, by working together (local people, politicians, local government officers, local organisations and university partners) to decide on our priorities.
The HDRC will ensure that approaches used to decide research priorities do not favour some voices or ideas above others. It will invest in building public engagement capacity and develop a Doncaster Research Network.
The HDRC consortium comprises Doncaster Council, Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield. The consortium has long-standing and trusting relationships and will build on this using an embedded researcher model.