The British Science Association runs the Community Buddy programme with support by funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of our ongoing community engagement work. The programme aims to connect Community Leaders with local researchers to spark new ideas and drive innovative community-led science engagement.

The Community Buddy programme builds on the skills and experience community organisers develop through our Community Leaders programme. These Leaders have a history of developing high-quality, long-term science engagement with communities under-represented in the sciences. They have expressed a desire to work collaboratively with local science role models, so we believe the next step is to enable these connections.

After participating in our Community Leaders programme, we match community organisers with researchers from their local area. We support community organisers and researchers to develop relationships in their own space to create a legacy that will last beyond our involvement in their science engagement work.

We then train these Community Buddies on how to use relational meetings to learn about each other and discover mutual interests. This approach empowers shared decision-making and develops a collaborative, balanced relationship. This is a different way of working: we encourage the purposeful discovery of common goals in lieu of an agenda-driven approach. This ultimately leads to more meaningful science engagement projects and long-lasting relationships between communities and researchers.

We are now looking for researchers to join our 2021 Community Buddy programme. You can see a list of our Community Leaders’ local areas and express interest here.

“I mean, as a scientist, it's definitely the opposite of the way that I would approach it, because we're generally very direct and to the point…and this is kind of the opposite of that. It was just—focus on the ‘wishy-washy stuff’ and the rest of it will kind of fall into place. I enjoyed it and it definitely put me out of my comfort zone.” - 2021 Community Buddy, Researcher. 

“It's been nice to have a new project idea…a new source of inspiration. I wouldn't have gone down this route ever before.” - 2021 Community Buddy, Community Leader. 

2020-2021 Community Buddies

We are pleased to announce the Community Leaders and researchers who joined us for our Community Buddy pilot programme.

Each Leader is joined by a local researcher chosen for their passion for community science engagement, enabling them to work together to develop ideas found through common community interests.

  • Steve Williams, OASIS Community Centre & Gardens with Emilie Brignall, University of Sheffield
  • Amar Azam, Unleashing Potential with Jill Stuart, London School of Economics
  • Carmel Britto, LPF Kiddies Club with Yvonne Abebola, King's College London
  • Neil McLaughlin, Barnet Libraries with Matthew Billing, London South Bank University
  • Paul Hyde, Whippet Up with Natalie Butcher, Teesside University
  • Mohammed Attaur Rahman, Wardleworth Community Centre / Rochdale Science Initiative with Claire Garside, University of Leeds
  • Zaffer Khan, One Voice Blackburn with Oliver Kerr, University of Central Lancashire
  • Yang Zhou, Mandarin Speakers Association Derry with Kevin Curran, Ulster University
  • Saoirse Higgins, Papay Development Trust with Joanne Porter, Heriot-Watt University
  • Leah Vellam-Steptoe, Battle Down School with Sarah Bekaert, Oxford Brookes University
  • Gemma Martin, Wheal Martyn with Katharine Willis, University of Plymouth
  • Juliette Jackson, Seadream Education with Julia Latham, Independent conservation consultant
  • Carl Gillam, Canolfan Ebeneser with Delwen McCallum, Bangor University
  • Claudia McFarlane, African Caribbean Achievement Project with James Poulter, University of Leeds

To prepare the Community Buddies for their work, the BSA delivers group training on relational meetings. The buddy pairs then have six months to establish a relationship and discover common interests. In March, Buddies join to share their experiences and workshop their ideas. 

We encourage our Buddies to maintain their relationship and access opportunities within the BSA’s community engagement programmes and beyond.

Find out more about the programme in this Q&A blog, where we asked a Community Buddy pair about their experience. 

For more information about the work the British Science Association does to support and engage with community groups, please visit our Community Engagement page and follow BSA Communities on Twitter.

If you have any questions about the programme, please email [email protected].