Building collaboration between VCSE and research sectors

Author: Sara Toal

In her role as VCSE Research Partnerships Coordinator at VONNE, Greta Brunskill has been driving greater collaboration between the VCSE and research sectors in our region. In this blog she explains more about this work and how you can get involved... 

"It’s an interesting time to reflect on our work to support greater collaboration between the rich VCSE and research sectors in our region and raise awareness of the NIHR Community Engagement Toolkit to support this. To learn more about the Toolkit, you can also watch this short animation.

"In July 2023 we began with an event at One Strawberry Lane in Newcastle – a first attempt to bring local VCSE and research organisations together to explore the Toolkit and hear from local partners who generously shared experiences of working together for research. Nine months on, we have since held events at Harraby Community Centre in Carlisle with Cumbria CVS in November, and Spennymoor Town Hall in Durham with the Institute of Medical Humanities at Durham University and Durham Community Action this March. Through these events we have engaged with over 50 VCSE organisations and researchers from across 5 local universities and begun exploring what else, beyond the Toolkit principles, could help support greater VCSE research partnerships in our region. 

"In my role as VCSE Research Partnerships Coordinator at VONNE, I have been really inspired by the energy and interest from VCSE and research organisations around collaboration, and feel excited about our next steps to further support these connections and partnerships to grow. Through a grant from the NIHR Centre for Engagement & Dissemination, VONNE and NIHR partners are embarking on a project involving VCSE organisations and researchers to co-produce practical resources and training that enable partners to apply the Community Engagement Toolkit in practice and work successfully together on community driven, impactful research.  

"Excitingly, we began this work on 25th April with an initial co-production meeting where VCSE organisations and researchers came together to discuss what the priorities for practical resources and training are, and how we could approach developing these together. The next steps of this work will be to establish smaller, working groups to focus on developing a specific resource. One thing we are keen to produce is some from of illustrative suite of examples of VCSE research partnerships in practice from across the region – If you would like to get involved in this project or share a case study of how you have collaborated with a research or VCSE partner, please get in touch with me at".

For more information about research partnerships support available at VONNE or to get in touch with Greta for support, visit our VCSE Research Partnerships webpage.