The Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging is growing an impressive and varied Public Engagement programme, aided by the Centre’s recent successful application to Wellcome’s Research Enrichment Fund
The Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging (WCHN), as a world class neuroimaging facility and the home of SPM (the most widely-used neuroimaging software) offers huge potential in terms of public engagement.
“As leaders in neuroimaging, we aim to be at the forefront of the field’s public engagement activity – with researchers who are both engaged by, and engage, public groups. Developing a culture of engagement within our centre will not only strengthen our research, but promote the value of public engagement further afield within neuroscience. This new funding will allow us to support the growing and varied public engagement programme we have set for 2019.” Cassandra Hugill, WCHN's Public Engagement Manager
Integrating public engagement into our Centre’s culture will be a long process, but our Centre’s Director, Professor Cathy Price, and Public Engagement Manager, Cassandra Hugill, have made the opportunity graspable through their successful application to the Wellcome Research Enrichment Fund.
“We have a lot of work to be getting on with at WCHN, which is driven by the belief that our approach to engagement; welcoming involvement and collaboration from researchers, artists, and diverse audiences, further strengthens our Centre’s world-leading research. The three year fund is helping the PE programme blossom, where we are seeing more and more researchers get involved in a diverse range of events, with more programmes yet to be announced" Cassandra Hugill, WCHN's Public Engagement Manager
In November 2018, our Centre received a fund of £249,960 which has enabled considerable growth of our programme, the appointment of a Public Engagement Officer, Sophie Perry, and the support of an evaluator and critical friend, Charlotte Thorley. These valuable inputs mean that WCHN’s 2019 Public Engagement programme will be the most extensive yet, with our activity gathering momentum within the Centre, and more widely within UCL.
All of the activity within our programme builds towards three key aims; 1) develop our researchers such that they have the skills, experience and confidence to effectively engage with audiences, 2) build long-lasting networks of empowered people with neurological and psychiatric conditions who meaningfully contribute to our research, and 3) particularly focus on engaging with groups typically underserved by neuroscience, and who are currently ‘un-catered for’ within public engagement.
Our programme consists of a number of projects that are strongly linked to our research. One of these is a key annual event, UCL World Stroke Day Forum which invites stroke survivors to explore stroke research through workshops and discussions.
Training and supporting our researchers takes a number of forms within our Centre so that there are many ‘ways in’ to public engagement; in addition to our three key projects we have a number of on-going collaborative events, including a 2 week summer internship with In2Science, and a tiered training programme that feeds into a researcher-specific public engagement grant scheme.
Finally, as our growing activity relies on increasing enthusiasm towards PE throughout the centre, we are launching an annual Public Engagement Awards which will reward and celebrate our engaging staff and their efforts throughout the year. Our first ever Awards evening will be held on 12th April within the Centre.
“The progress that we have been able to make so far has been a truly collaborative effort, we have been lucky enough to have support from sister centres WEISS and the Sainsbury Welcome Centre who we co-run training and support events with, as well as Wellcome centres further afield who have helped us to solidify our strategy. " Cassandra Hugill, WCHN's Public Engagement Manager
We also have a growing network of charities, including Stroke Association and Young Epilepsy Foundation who have connected us with key user groups for our research and contribute to our events. We are building on our open and collaborative approach to further strengthen and widen the activity of our public engagement programme, and are currently in the process of building links with community groups in East London to feed into Dear World Project, which will capitalise on UCL East’s growing connections in London’s eastern boroughs