Around 70 participants, mainly ARC Academic Career Development leads (ACD) and leads in Local Authorities (LA) from the 15 Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) across the country, came together in April for a National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) ACD leads and LA Research Capacity Workshop, with the aim to explore how ARCs can support research in local government.

Hosted by the Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex (ARC KSS) and co-hosted by ARC West Midlands, the event began with short presentations on building sustainable partnerships with LAs, with examples of how some of the Health Determinants Research Collaborations (HDRCs) plan to build their partnerships across the ARC regions.

The presentations and discussion then turned to workforce development and how ARCs can best support local authority workforce to be research active. Presentations were given by researchers involved in local authority research and highlighted ways in which capacity is being built (including that funded by NIHR) and how this can draw in local authority practitioners into research.

To round off the event, attendees were split into groups and asked to consider what are the priorities for the next steps for research capacity in LAs.

The discussion focused on four main questions:

  • How can ARC's best support the Local Authority workforce to develop research?
  • How can we develop the research culture and values in Local Authorities?
  • How can we support governance and ethics in Local Authorities?
  • What do ARC’s need to consider to create a shared language and for early careers in this sector?

Key discussion points from this session included:

  • The whole model of the Embedded Researcher is coming out as a positive way to use that role to network, broker, and build communication networks – something we could think about more.
  • Joining up across organisations, picking up on opportunities and being able to use those opportunities well.
  • Showing the value and convincing others to invest in evaluation and research is important, but really challenging.
  • ARC members mentoring people within organisations to raise awareness and build that skill set.
  • Crucially, building that community of practitioners of peer support and building networks.
  • Work on doing things that are bespoke for LAs.
  • Understanding and using existing skills that may not appear as research skill – understanding and valuing what people already do and build a better understanding of culture and language around research.

A summary from this event is available here.

We hope to organise a follow up to this event in about 12 months’ time, through the Academic Career Development Leads group (ACDLs) and the ARCs nationally, in the hope and expectation that we can share further developments in research capacity in Local Authorities.

For more information or for any questions please contact Professor Sally Kendall, ARC KSS Research Capacity Lead.

Recite Me Accessibility Tools