Community engagement

Supported by our Connected Communities team

From our ‘Get Talking’ projects through to developing a Public Manifesto for Research, we embed community engagement into everything we do.  

Our Connected Communities team is also playing a pivotal role in encouraging staff across Staffordshire University to use participatory action research.  

The “co-creation” approach means academics and members of the public work together to find solutions to issues. It gives residents a real stake in improving their areas.  

Some of our students have also been taking part in outreach projects to share their skills with others. And we’ve introduced a new title, Civic Fellow, to recognise the contributions of people in the community.

Involving communities in our research

Community researchers  

People with experience of homelessness and other forms of hardship have become community researchers to help tackle poverty.  

The Get Talking Hardship project has enabled residents to learn new skills and contribute to research that affects their lives in Stoke-on-Trent. They have teamed up with academics to devise research questions and conduct interviews. 

It builds on our pioneering approach, where we’ve worked alongside community researchers for many years. For another project, the Vintage Volunteers group have looked at barriers to older people volunteering.  

We are enlisting the help of young people too. They are investigating why so many of their peers experience eco-anxiety – a fear of the effects of climate change. 

You can’t always judge somebody by their situation or the circumstances that they’re in, so it opened my eyes.

Rebecca Smith

Community researcher and Staffordshire University graduate. 

Public Manifesto for research

We are taking our community engagement one step further by creating a Public Manifesto for Research.  

It will lead to a set of public priorities to feed into Staffordshire University’s research agenda. Topics could range from the cost of living through to environmental concerns.  

While some projects will respond directly to the manifesto, others may inform our wider approach. We could link a community with a relevant researcher or involve postgraduate and undergraduate students in investigating a number of the ideas.  

The work will inform our Civic University Agreement.  

Making a difference in our communities through partnership and collaboration

Staffs CAN make a difference!

We set up the Staffordshire University Community Advisory Network (Staffs CAN) to create a forum for civic action and collaboration.  

It includes representatives from our staff and student bodies, members of the public, community organisations, alumni, and civic and industry partners. We are now planning sub-groups focusing on the student voice and staff voice.  

It builds on the three strands of our Connected Communities work – co-creation, community-giving and place-shaping. Our vision is for an annual programme of civic activities, teaching and research that is responsive to local needs and raises aspirations. 

Digital Champions  

When we embarked on a project to boost digital inclusion, we found many people were terrified of falling victim to online scams. It was a key barrier to getting involved in the digital world.  

But through the Discover Digital programme, they were able to build their confidence and digital skills. Some of our students became digital champions, operating from a pop-up shop where the public could drop in for advice.  

People also had access to other bespoke support, including grants for equipment. And to encourage interest in digital technologies, we organised community sessions on 3D printing, VR and drones.  

The project – funded through the Government’s Community Renewal Fund – was led by Staffordshire University in partnership with a range of other education, community and voluntary organisations.  

It’s just one example of how we reach out to communities to make a positive impact.  

The Research, Innovation and Impact Services team can provide information about all aspects of research at Staffordshire University.

in the UK for Quality Education

Sustainable Development Goal 4, Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2023

for Career Prospects

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Facilities

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021

of Research is “Internationally Excellent” or “World Leading”

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Four Star Rating

QS Star Ratings 2021