By Noura Rizk, Research Officer, Marie Curie

Published: 16 August 2023

AMRC’s Festival of Partnerships is shining a light on partnering – how best to do it, the challenges it brings, and showcasing great examples from the sector. A highlight of the Festival so far has been hearing from our member charities about the diversity of ways in which to partner: with each other, industry, government and more. We didn’t think it was fair to keep all these insights to ourselves. So, in this ‘Showcasing Partnerships’ blog series we’ll be hearing from some of our charities about these partnerships, their challenges and successes, as well as lessons learnt.

In our second blog, we’re showcasing AMRC member Marie Curie and their partnership with the Muslim Council of Britain.

Marie Curie is the UK’s leading end of life charity and the UK’s leading charitable funder of palliative and end of life care research. It provides hands-on nursing care in people’s homes and in its hospices, a free support line and a wealth of information and support on all aspects of dying, death and bereavement. The charity’s research pushes the boundaries of what we know about good end of life, and its campaigns fight for a world where everyone gets to have the best possible quality of life while living with a serious life limiting illness. Marie Curie funds research through open calls, research fellows and research centres but also undertakes its own research, often working in partnership with other organisations. The charity funds and conducts research on a range of topics, in line with its Research, Policy and Public Affairs strategy, with the overarching aim of improving the care and support that people affected by any terminal illness and their families receive − now and in the future.

What is your role at your charity and what does a typical day look like for you?

Noura Rizk

I am a Research Officer within the Research, Policy and Public Affairs team at Marie Curie. My role is in supporting internal research projects. Some of the projects I have been involved in include:

“We don’t talk about death enough” LGBTQ+ People’s Perspectives on Palliative and End of Life Care, in partnership with Superdrug.

“Muslim Voices” The palliative care needs of British Muslims during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond in partnership with The Muslim Council of Britain, University College London (UCL) and the University of Leeds.

I also support the planning of the Annual Marie Curie Research Conference and enjoy sharing our research projects at conferences and events.

Tell us about a partnership your charity has been involved in.

In partnership with the Muslim Council of Britain, researchers from Marie Curie, University College London and the University of Leeds identified, recruited and trained people from the British Muslim community to act as peer researchers in our research project. The aim was to explore the experiences of British Muslims with palliative care needs and those close to them during the pandemic and provide recommendations for improving support through utilising peer research methodologies.

The outcome of this work included a report and short film and several activities to ensure the voices of communities are heard. We worked hard to engage with organisations and services to help highlight some of the barriers to palliative care access for this group and open up conversations about how to tackle inequities in end-of-life care experiences.

Some of the activities to help support impact were: 

  • Launching the film and the report at an event hosted by Marie Curie and the Muslim Council of Britain in parliament to engage with parliamentarians
  • Presenting the work at national, and international conferences, as well as within universities and national forums with interest in tackling inequities
  • Sharing the film as part of anti-racism workshop held organisation wide within Marie Curie

What were the main benefits of this partnership as opposed to doing the same project alone?

Muslim voices parliamentary event photo

Our partnership with the Muslim Council of Britain was a really positive and worthwhile experience. It provided the opportunity for continuous reflection which helped to change the ways we worked and how we built the project together. Creating space to share and hear the experiences and viewpoints of everyone involved was invaluable in shaping the project, understanding the data we collected and framing the recommendations. Through this joint working, we developed trust and knowledge, which have formed the foundations for continued collaboration on future projects of shared interest. As part of this, I will be starting a PhD project to continue our collaboration.

What makes charities such good partners?

Charities can be excellent partners for a number of reasons. Within Marie Curie we have so many passionate people who really want to improve end of life experiences for all. We also have a range of specialisms and expertise, from research and policy to information and support and providing hands on care towards the end of life. We also recognise that partnerships with others are essential to make sure that we can understand and address inequities in palliative care access and end of life experiences. Bringing together these different skills sets, with a real openness to collaborate and learn from others with expertise or experience in other areas, means that charities can be well placed to partner on projects.

What are the main challenges you’ve faced in partnerships and how did you overcome them?

One of the challenges we faced is in looking at how we can measure the impact of our collaboration. To measure the impact of a project we need to be guided from the start by the people that the project is intended to help, to understand what they would consider impact to look like. As such, Marie Curie opened a recent research grant call focusing on addressing barriers to equitable end of life experience, where proposals for research projects need to be built in equal partnership with representatives of the communities. This gives opportunities for more organisations to work in partnership and will give us a better understanding of how to measure the impact of collaborative research projects compared to traditional ones.

If you could give one tip to another charity entering a similar partnership, what would it be?

You need time to build relationships and understand the common goal that you are working towards. Recognising the different perspectives and experiences that each member of the team can bring makes achieving that goal together a great experience.

If your charity has a partnership you’d like to share via this blog series, we want to hear from you! Get in touch with Ellen at [email protected]. Read other blogs in the series on our Festival of Partnerships:blogs page.

Noura Rizk
Muslim Voices parliamentary event