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The University of Southampton
Public Engagement with Research


Seed Funding for Public & Community Engagement

We invite applications annually for funding to develop public and community engagement (PCE) activities.

Our seed-funding has supported numerous projects over the years, many of which have thrived and grown beyond the funding period to attract other funding, develop partnerships and take up new and exciting directions.  A significant number have contributed to impact case studies within the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Please note OUR 2023/24 CALL IS NOW CLOSED

Funding criteria & Call Strands

Proposals within all strands should seek two-way engagement for mutual benefit with Southampton's research and/or teaching, and should:

Additional specific criteria apply within each Activity Strand.

This year's Call comprised four Activity Strands :

Strand 1 - Relationship Building: supporting staff/students to connect and build a relationship with individuals or groups beyond the University; and vice versa.  (This could potentially lead to an application under Strand 2 in the following year.)

Strand 2 - Collaborative Partnership for PCE: supporting co-led partnership projects with an emphasis on exploratory power-sharing.

Strand 3 - Reflective Practice for PCE: supporting the development of evaluation approaches/methodologies and/or evaluation of existing programmes.

Strand 4 - Experimental: Supporting staff/students/partners to try something out - this could be an experienced team wanting to test out a novel engagement approach; or those newer to PCE bringing a tried-and-tested method into their context.

Opportunity for community-led projects

It is possible (and encouraged!) for people outside the University to propose and lead a project - an internal co-lead would need to be identified in this case.  We are always keen to hear ideas from 'beyond our walls' and can assist with connecting people from outside and inside the University.  Please email us at if you would like to discuss a public/community engagement idea.

For further information and application form:

PERu intranet (for staff/students)

Please email if you are not a member of the University and are interested in applying for funding to work collaboratively with an individual or team at the University.

If you would like to talk to us about a project idea or proposal, please also email

Timeline for Call and Projects cycle

Overview of Projects funded to run in 2022/23

Engaging vulnerable communities in research on sensitive topics - a co-creation project to develop sustainable networks and collaborations with community organisations who support people living with a terminal illness experiencing financial insecurity - Michelle Myall, Nursing Midwifery & Health

Developing digital communication in the community for SPRiNG - developing an outward-facing digital communication hub for Southampton Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder Research & Innovation Hub - Emma Palmer-Cooper - Psychology

Conversations and co-creation with women on health inequalities - from puberty to menopause, women's health is an intricate journey with different milestones and across diverse cultures and backgrounds.  Overall, it has been poorly served by healthcare systems - Michelle Smith, Theatre for Life, with Kathryn Woods-Townsend, LifeLab

Widening participation in patient & public involvement for clinical trials - engaging to better understand and overcome the barriers that prevent or dissuade people from underserved groups from taking part in clinical trials - Liz Allaway, Cancer Sciences

Supporting students with eating disorders in schools - co-creating a programme of research and resources to provide better support - Katy Sivyer, Psychology

SO-Together Health: Working together for better hearing and brain health - engaging to understand how new knowledge in hearing loss and dementia can be translated to meet local community needs and enhance quality of life and health - Kate Hough, ISVR Enterprise

Windrush Portraits - working with communities to co-create monumental artworks representing the Windrush Generation - testing new ways to co-design/create art in the public realm - Lynne Dick, John Hansard Gallery

What's the problem with vaping? - working with young people to co-create resources highlighting the negative consequences of vaping - Lisa Bagust, LifeLab

Rainbow infrastructures of care: the impact of the pandemic on local LGBTQ youth support - engaging local groups with research findings to open up dialogue and establish enduring connections between the University and local LGBT+ charities - Eleanor Wilkinson, Geography & Environmental Sciences

Raising AMR awareness via reverse socialisation - engaging with 16-19 yearolds to create awareness of AMR and antibiotic alternatives against bacterial infections - Franklin Nobrega, Biological Sciences

Growing Wild Citizens @ School - encouraging children to take a citizen science approach to thinking about the food they eat, and how to grow food plants in their school grounds in a sustainable way - Jenny Baverstock, Biological Sciences

Engaging students and creative writers in research on fictional role models and their carbon footprint - Denise Baden, Southampton Business School

Biodiversity of Micro-Munchers - engaging children-in-care, care-leavers and carers through hands-on scientific discovery of a microscopic ecosystem - to raise awareness and build understanding - James Dillon, Biological Sciences

Sharing the lived experience of patients through the visual arts - exploring with patients, carers, and visitors from diverse backgrounds and a community artist - Heather Parsons, University Hospital Southampton.

Living with a genetic predisposition to cancer: a co-creation project - co-creating visual illustrations to improve accessibility of web resources with and for patients with Lynch Syndrome - Kate Morton, Health Sciences

(Sept 2023 update) We are delighted to share feedback from contributors to the above project and thank each one for their input:

Ellie : “It was a privilege to use my position as a teenage cancer survivor to contribute to Dr Katherine Morton's research at the University of Southampton, looking into the imagery and language used in cancer information for patients.

Since being diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma aged 15 in 2011, I've remained passionate at trying to drive positive change, and make the realities of navigating cancer easier for more recently diagnosed patients, whatever stage of life they're at. Being part of this post-doctoral research has been a fantastic way to do that.

I felt both totally at ease and empowered during the sessions, that so effortlessly promoted an easy-to-chat atmosphere while everyone involved also learned from each other and got stuck into the task at hand. The other participants, artist Lily, Dr Morton and I were all strangers with different experiences of cancer before we began the project, but soon got to know each other even over virtual platforms, and I think our perspectives all grew in some unique way, which translated onto the pages we were looking at.

I'm confident and hopeful that each of our thoughts on the materials used will be put to good use - it was already evident by the follow-up session that our initial ideas for change had been carefully listened to and accurately implemented, which was really encouraging.

If they feel comfortable to or are tempted towards a new challenge, I'd encourage anyone else with a relationship with cancer to get involved with university projects exploring some angle of oncology. Even if you feel daunted in the first place, you'll soon realise that you can push your boundaries without putting yourself at ill ease - and it feels rewarding to give back in some away. Thank you to Dr Morton and the team!”

Clara : “This was a very satisfying experience. Despite it being a sensitive theme, it is one we all need to talk more about. I felt that all our suggestions about the pictures used for the hysterectomy website were addressed, and taken on board. The changes were visible and as soon as I clicked on the link to open the webpage I could see how our input had made a difference. I am a very visual person and I wish more people would follow in the footsteps of this team. Things like ethnicity, disabilities, age, shapes, and cultural aspects were talked about openly and respectfully”.

Shaz : "It was an absolute pleasure taking part in a research workshop. At first you don't know what to expect but seeing your opinions and ideas valued and appreciated and then later seeing them come to life is such an amazing experience.

Knowing that you are helping shape and influence medical research and helping the accessibility and ease of use for future patients makes me feel really proud and honored that I could be involved.

Taking part in the workshops has made me realise just how much work goes into every little detail that we see.

I now appreciate all the small details that go into one website for example, that we refer to for information and how much thought goes into the pictures, wordings, making it appealing, simple to use and easy to understand for patients.

I think the fact that it was an online workshop meant that I could access and contribute from anywhere and I think this makes it easier for people from all walks of life to contribute their valuable thoughts and opinions without the restrictions of location."

Reshma: “I have been involved in this study on developing pictures for a decision aid . I have found it not only very thought provoking but thoughtful on the emotional level. The study matter, very complex on so many levels,  has been presented in a easy to understand and  sensitive way. Reading it and looking at it, I feel well informed and comfortable in going forward”.

Samina: “'Making Cancer Accessible for Everyone was a particular interest of mine as Cancer is seen as a taboo subject in the South Asian Community believing that there is no cure and leads to death. The website was information for patients/public to decide to whether to take aspirin in order to reduce their chance of getting cancer.

The small group discussion with other public contributors was beneficial as it included diversity and a range of perspectives that were different and each viewpoint was valid. The website needed to be appealing with the right amount of information and images to be simple and easy to understand. There was one particular image of the small and large bowel which involved a lengthy discussion about how it may be interpreted by patients/public accessing the website. Some pages had too much information and could be seen as off putting and overwhelming, suggestions were made to reduce repetition of information.

Suggestions to include diversity in images was important as patents/public find messages more relevant where they see images of people who represent themselves.

Working in co-design with the research team gave a sense of being valued and listened to, including a sense of being involved with this important research which will come to benefit others in the future.”

Conor: I have been involved in a number of PPI projects as a patient contributor since 2019. Usually, I have been asked to comment on research programmes, and have also looked at helping to form a PPI academy, which would formalise patient involvement and place it on a more definite footing.

The various meetings I have attended have all been interesting. My own contribution to the debate in each has for logistical and practical reasons often been varied. When the leading expert in a highly technical area offers their plans to take their work programme forward and gives you a window of thirty seconds to offer your views, there is often little choice you are faced with other than getting your rubber stamp out and saying, “it all looks brilliant.”

So it was a refreshing change that my latest project, a review of the website being developed by Dr Kate Morton and her team, to give people suffering from Lynch syndrome the opportunity to consider options available to them, gave me more of an opportunity to get more fully involved and make a genuine contribution.

Particularly enjoyable was:

On a more personal level, can I just add that it was also extremely refreshing to see my work skills being put to good use. I was not being asked for the patient perspective, I was asked what I thought of a piece of work in development. Patients can offer much more than recounting their experiences as patients. My thanks go to Dr Morton and her team for creating the conditions where my contribution and engagement to this project could be an important one”.

Follow the related links below to:

Ad hoc Seed Funding

Outside our annual Call we also consider approaches for small amounts of seed-funding to respond to emerging opportunities.  Please note that such requests are likely to be successful if the applicant could reasonably have applied through the annual Call process.  Please contact for info/advice.

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