Published: 2 July 2024

By Kate Blackstone, Charity Engagement Lead, National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) 

The NIHR funds, enables and delivers world-leading health and social care research that improves people’s health and wellbeing and promotes economic growth. Funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, our work focuses on translational, clinical and applied health and social care research.

Collaborating with charities is essential to supporting high quality research that is relevant and meaningful to patients and the public. NIHR works with charities across all parts of research, including study delivery, strategy development, shaping funding calls, funding infrastructure and engaging with patients and the public.

By collaborating with the NIHR in areas where our missions are aligned, charities can offer their strategic insight, increasing the scale and impact of their and our research. The dedicated charity pages of the NIHR website outline the ways charities can work with the NIHR.

To strengthen our relationship with charities, the NIHR has established a new Charity Engagement Lead role that works with all parts of the NIHR and has both an internal and external focus. 

I joined the NIHR in February 2024 after 13 years working in clinical research in public hospitals. I’ve held leadership roles in research offices, delivery teams and Clinical Research Facilities. In this time, I have managed charity supported studies and funding and worked alongside charity stakeholders. I have first-hand experience of the impact of charity supported research and look forward to working with the AMRC and its members to grow charity engagement with the NIHR. 

What does this mean for charities? 

We appreciate that navigating the NIHR can be complex, as we collaborate with charities in a variety of different ways. We want to make it easier for charities to understand how we can work together and how to access our support and services.  As the Charity Engagement Lead, I provide a central point of coordination, signposting charities to the right support, opportunities or services to make working together more efficient and effective.  

We would like to create a space for thoughtful collaboration where we can discuss challenges, brainstorm ideas and work together to achieve our common goals. We are eager to promote the impact of charities working with the NIHR to bring benefits to patients and the public. Whether it's training needs, communication, processes or anything else, we’d like to hear your ideas. Together we can improve, diversify and grow the breadth and depth of the ways that charities and NIHR can collaborate, and ultimately benefit patients and the public.  

Working with AMRC 

We work closely with AMRC colleagues to understand the current priorities of charities, swap ideas and develop solutions. Whether you speak to me or the AMRC, be assured that we’ll use our meetings to close the loop on common issues and concerns.  

What’s next? 

On Monday 15 July AMRC and NIHR will jointly host a webinar for AMRC members to hear about the new Research Delivery Network (RDN), which has replaced the Clinical Research Network (CRN).  

The webinar will be an opportunity to learn more about the transition the RDN has gone through, the services it provides to charities and other stakeholders and the role it plays in supporting researchers in the NHS. You can register for the webinar, which will be held on Zoom from 2-3pm.

Register on Zoom

In the interim, if you haven’t collaborated with the NIHR before, would like to know more or have a particular idea or question, please do get in touch. I’m here to help at [email protected]