Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Engage the public with the future of health and care in the UK

Apply for funding to bring the public into dialogue about the future of health and social care. We are looking for researchers that will work with the public to contribute in imaginative ways to activities and conversations that will help shape future debate and decision-making about the future of health, ageing and wellbeing over the next 25 years.

You must be based at a UK-based research organisation that is eligible to receive funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to apply. We welcome interdisciplinary applications, though your research must be rooted in the arts and humanities.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £40,000. AHRC will fund 100% of the full economic cost.

Projects can be delivered at any time between June 2023 and March 2024.

Who can apply

To apply for this public engagement fund, you must be:

  • a UK resident
  • over the age of 18
  • currently working or studying at doctoral level or higher at a UK research organisation that is described as eligible to receive funding from UKRI in section two of the AHRC research funding guide
  • working in a relevant area of research in or related to the arts and humanities
  • proposing activity that will take place between June 2023 and March 2024.

We require that applicants have plans that are adaptable and workable in the face of any potential COVID-19-related restrictions. Applicants must consider safe, accessible and inclusive activity and are encouraged to consider how they might adapt their activity to potential restrictions (for example, social distancing or the need to use digital methods).

We encourage applications that engage in interdisciplinary research and collaborate outside of arts and humanities. However, your application must address the themes and focus of this opportunity, which are primarily rooted in the arts and humanities.

We encourage applicants from a diverse range of:

  • backgrounds
  • experiences
  • expertise
  • career stages.

What we're looking for

In 2023 the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) will be 75 years old. The NHS is one of the world’s largest healthcare providers and social institutions, and for over seven decades has influenced and shaped the lives of millions, as well as the history and social fabric of the UK.

During this anniversary year for the NHS, AHRC wants to bring the public into dialogue about the future of healthcare and social care. We want researchers and the public to contribute in imaginative ways to activities and conversations that will help shape future debate, ideation, and decision-making, and secure the future of health, ageing and wellbeing over the next 25 years.

Projects funded through this opportunity will:

  • engage diverse audiences in research conversations about the changing structures of social care and healthcare, and how they can be responsive to public needs in the face of great societal challenges, including health inequalities
  • deliver innovative public engagement where researchers create dialogue with the public to shape thinking and have new ideas around the role of communities and community-led initiatives in supporting health, wellbeing and social care.

We want projects where engagement activity is directly linked with research, and we are interested in research that is based in the arts and humanities, or has strong arts and humanities links. For example, we are interested in how securing better health, ageing and wellbeing is shaped by things like:

  • artificial intelligence and technology
  • community or making use of community assets
  • culture and society or medical humanities
  • design and architecture
  • equality, diversity and inclusion
  • health inequalities
  • intergenerational justice
  • lived experiences.

This list is illustrative and not exhaustive. We encourage interdisciplinary applications or applications from non-arts and humanities researchers that have arts and humanities outputs and outcomes. At least one person in your team must have an arts and humanities-focused remit.

We will fund projects between £10,000 and £40,000. Projects can be delivered at any time between June 2023 and March 2024.

Your project must demonstrate:

  • a clearly defined public audience group (for example, ‘the general public’ is too vague, but ‘18 to 25 year olds living in Leeds’ is defined)
  • excellent public engagement methods and activities that are:
    • collaborative and actively engage a public audience or audiences in the research or research process (or both)
    • inspiring, creative or innovative
    • appropriate and relevant to the needs and interests of the public audience or audiences
  • engagement activity may be based on existing or new research and must be adaptable to potential changing coronavirus-related restrictions
  • if working with a partner, excellent partnership working that is equitable and uses collaborative, consultative or co-production methods
  • strong public participation, diversity and inclusion. We particularly welcome proposals that engage diverse audiences across the UK, either place-based or interest-based, especially with audiences that do not traditionally engage with research or feel that their voices and lived experiences have not previously been part of discussions about social care and healthcare, or projects that address health inequalities
  • potential for positive long-term impact on a public audience or audiences and partner organisation or organisations, possibly including those working in healthcare or social care
  • that it represents good value for money, is well-structured, and has a feasible plan to get the public actively engaged in research
  • that it might lead to potential future research scoping and new partnerships
  • potential for learnings and successes to be shared with the public, researchers, policymakers, partner organisations, such as the NHS across the UK and integrated care boards, potentially via a shared website or social media presence
  • an ethics and safeguarding plan that is appropriate for your research topic, public engagement method or activity, and defined audience
  • public engagement activity that takes place between June 2023 and March 2024.

Example types of activities

You must demonstrate how you will deliver your activity in a safe way, providing an appropriately rigorous ethics and safeguarding plan that considers the health, safety and wellbeing of your public audience. This process may include consultation with community stakeholders, people with lived experience, or providers of social care and healthcare (including healthcare or social care professionals).

We encourage you to embrace a mix of digitally and socially distanced methods and to consider a contingency plan for your proposed activity, in the event of possible future government guidelines relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, bearing in mind varying levels of digital literacy among different demographics.

We are looking for innovative projects that embrace participatory public engagement with research methods to ensure that the public is actively involved in research around securing better health, ageing and wellbeing. You should consider how you might engage your public audiences in some or all stages of the research process. For example, by:

  • adopting collaborative, co-design or co-production methods, or a mixture of these
  • listening to a diverse range of public voices, involving public audiences and people with lived experience in decision-making, and professional voices from social care and healthcare
  • encouraging peer-to-peer or intergenerational engagement, whereby conversations can be started in relation to the focus of the activity.

Your proposed activity should be off-campus and embedded in the community, taking place where people live, work and play. For example, you may wish to engage with your audience through:

  • community groups
  • workplaces
  • health and care settings
  • having a presence in shopping centres
  • through schools and colleges
  • connecting with interest groups (such as sports teams)
  • using social media channels to reach out to people.

Activities and outputs could include:

  • pop-up radio station or podcasts
  • social media campaign using Instagram or Facebook live
  • short seasons of thematic or place-based podcasts
  • thematic e-books
  • online or face-to-face memory bank, or oral history interviews
  • interviews, focus groups, surveys and consultation
  • design sprint activities
  • place-based participatory activity that relates to the securing better health, ageing and wellbeing
  • film screenings with question and answer discussions or introductions
  • displays and exhibitions (virtual, physical or both)
  • creation of media outputs (vlogs, podcasts, radio and tv programming, films, apps or zines)
  • theatre, music, visual art and craft, or creative writing and poetry
  • schools’ sessions, workshops and educational packs that make relevant and creative use of the national curriculum, covering one or multiple subjects
  • activity that can be linked to the 2023 Being Human Festival and other place-based festivals.

This list is not exhaustive, and you may choose to select other methods beyond those listed.

What we will fund

These grants are offered at 100% full economic cost and cover:

  • staff time, up to a maximum of 20% of the total funding requested (for example covering the planning and delivery of the public engagement activities)
  • freelancer fees for delivery of project, for example for:
    • artists
    • musicians
    • performers
    • consultants
    • translators
    • non-staff speakers
    • brokers or mediators to support community engagement, for example support workers, small community, voluntary of place-based organisations and people with lived experience
  • out-of-pocket expenses for:
    • participants (for example travel and subsistence) where involvement in a project is significant or continuous (or both) over a long period of time
    • carers or guardians if the project involves working with young people or individuals who may need the support of a carer or guardian to participate
  • the cost of producing outputs and essential activity materials, for example:
    • equipment
    • props
    • costumes
    • venue hire
    • transport costs
    • marketing costs.

What we will not fund

We will not fund:

  • activity that would have taken place without the support of this fund, for example pre-planned activity that has been upscaled or could be absorbed into institutional budgets
  • catering (unless consumables are essential to proposed activity)
  • activity designed primarily for the academic community (for example conferences, symposia or academic workshops)
  • estates and indirect costs, as the full costs of proposed activities will be covered (see ‘How to apply: justification of resources’).

How to apply

You can submit an application through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system from 28 September 2022 until the deadline of 13 December 2022.

Please make sure you leave sufficient time to create a Je-S account if you do not already have one.

Please ensure that you gain any required approval from your organisation and ensure you submit before the deadline on 13 December 2022 at 4:00pm UK time.

How to apply using Je-S

You should submit your proposal using our Je-S system.

To prepare a proposal form in Je-S you should:

  1. Log-in to your account and choose ‘Documents’ from the menu.
  2. Select ‘New Document’.
  3. Select ‘AHRC’ as the council.
  4. Select ‘Standard Proposal’ as the document type.
  5. Select ‘Development grants’ as the scheme.
  6. Select ‘NHS 75 Public Engagement Call 13 Dec 2022’ as the Call/Type/Mode.
  7. Select ‘Create Document’. 8. Je-S will then create a proposal form, displaying the relevant section headings. Using the blue question marks and the ‘Help’ link at the top of each section will provide guidance relevant to that section of the form.

All investigators named on the Je-S application form, must have a Je-S account. Where a named investigator does not already have a Je-S account, one can be easily set up, but please note that the process can take a number of days. It is therefore strongly recommended that the process is started well before the application deadline.

Je-S accounts can be created on the Je-S site. During account set-up, an account type of ‘An Applicant on a Standard/Outline Proposal’ must be selected.

If you require assistance with the process, please contact the Je-S Helpdesk at or +44 (0)1793 44 4164


The following are a list of attachments that are permitted for this opportunity. Unless otherwise stated, please see section four of the AHRC research funding guide for further information about these attachments.

Case for support

This is compulsory. It should not more than seven sides of A4.

You should structure your case for support using the following headings:

  • project title
  • topic eligibility
  • project summary
  • public audience or audiences
  • partner organisation or organisations
  • programme of public engagement activity
  • outcomes and impact
  • monitoring and evaluation.

Project title

Please state your project title at the top of your case for support.

Topic eligibility (maximum 100 words)

Select and state the primary focus of your current research activity from within the list of AHRC disciplines. If your project is interdisciplinary, please select further areas of research from the following council disciplines:

Project summary

Outline your project, briefly summarising:

  • your research and proposed public engagement activity
  • how your project will examine the future of healthcare and social care (please note that projects may be based on existing or new research)
  • the objectives and intended outcomes of your project
  • the public audience or audiences and project partner or partners you intend to work with (please note, you will have further opportunity to discuss these in the next two sections).

You must demonstrate:

  • public engagement activity and research that demonstrates strong relevance to the theme
  • ambitious, creative and innovative projects that aim to inspire and engage the public
  • clear objectives and positive outcomes.

Public audience or audiences

Tell us about your public audience or audiences:

  • explain the rationale behind how and why you have identified this public audience or professional group and why you want to engage with them
  • explain how the project is relevant to this audience group’s needs and interests, telling us how it will benefit and engage them.

You must demonstrate:

  • a clearly identified, well defined and relevant audience group
  • demonstration of relevance and benefit of project activity to public audience
  • project activity that actively engages the public or professional audience in research and the research process.

Project partner or partners

Tell us about any project partner or partners. Describe:

  • how you identified your project partners
  • how the project partners are relevant to your project
  • how you intend to ensure this partnership is equitable.

You must demonstrate:

  • clearly identified partners, appropriate to the project
  • potential for excellent and equitable partnership working that is collaborative.

Programme of public engagement activity

Describe your public engagement activity and methods and explain how you plan to make your research, activity and methods engaging, accessible and relevant to your public audience or professional audiences.

Please provide estimated dates for each activity. Your project must take place between June 2023 and March 2024.

You must demonstrate:

  • public engagement methods and activities that are:
    • collaborative and actively engage a public audience or audiences in the research, the research process or both
    • inspiring, creative or innovative
    • appropriate and relevant to the needs and interests of the public audience or audiences
    • well-planned, achievable within the proposed timeframe and represent good value for money
    • adaptable to potential changing COVID-19-related restrictions
  • an understanding of potential barriers to access for public audiences and a plan of how to remove barriers.

Outcomes and impact

Describe how your project will make a change to the public audience or audiences and partner or partners it engages with.

You must demonstrate:

  • clear positive outcomes
  • potential for meaningful and positive long-term impact
  • potential for project learnings to be shared with the public, researchers, professionals (including those working in healthcare or social care), policymakers or partners
  •  potential for scoping of future areas of research, partnership opportunities, public engagement, or more than one of these.

Monitoring and evaluation

Tell us how you will monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your project.

You must demonstrate:

  • appropriate evaluation methods for the project activity that capture the impact of the activity on the public audience or audiences, the partner organisation or organisations, and the research team
  • achievable and measurable outcomes
  • potential to share findings with the public audience or audiences, people working in social care or healthcare, the partner organisation or organisations, and the research team.

Ethics and safeguarding plan

It should be no more than two sides of A4. You must demonstrate:

  • plans to ensure health, safety and wellbeing of public audiences is effectively planned for and well-managed
  • appropriate safeguarding, consent and ethical processes are put in place, which align with university and partner regulations
  • risk assessment.

Please upload your ethics and safeguarding plan to Je-S via the attachment type ‘Other Attachment’.

You will be expected to provide proof of an up-to-date Disclosure and Barring Service certificate if you are planning to work with children or young or vulnerable people, and your application is successful.

Data management plan

It should be no more than two sides of A4. The data management plan should outline the project’s approach to managing data. See our funding guide for writing the data management plan.

Justification of resources

It should be up to two sides of A4. This should be a description of the need for the resources requested. Please ensure you justify all of the resources you request. See our research funding guide for writing the justification of resources document.

You should:

  • explain why the indicated resources are needed (note that it is not sufficient merely to list what is required)
  • have regard for the breakdown of resources into the summary fund headings:
    • directly incurred
    • directly allocated
    • (where appropriate) exceptions.

AHRC will fund this award at 100% full economic cost. For the award to be paid at 100% full economic cost, you must:

  • put all costs in ‘other directly incurred’
  • tick the ‘exceptions’ tick box in that section.

This will include staff costs. In the staff section, fill in all the relevant staff details and put a 0 for the cost, making sure to instead include the actual cost under ‘ODI exceptions’.

As the full costs of the proposed activities will be covered, estates and indirect costs are ineligible under this opportunity.


Summary curriculum vitae (CV) should be attached as separate documents for each principal investigator and any co-investigators. These should be no more than two sides of A4.

CVs should include basic information about:

  • education
  • employment history
  • academic responsibilities.

Summary lists of publications

Summary lists of publications or research outputs should be attached as separate documents for each principal investigator and any co-investigators. These should cover major publications or outputs in the last five years and should be no more than one side of A4 paper.

Project partner letter or letters of support for all named project partners

Each project partner must provide a project partner letter of support, of no more than two sides of A4 or equivalent on headed paper by email in exceptional circumstances. The letter should be written when the proposal is being prepared and should be targeted specifically to the project, it must therefore be dated before submission of the proposal.

The letter of support is intended to provide reassurance to AHRC and to its reviewers that the appropriate authorisation has been given to the proposed contribution or commitment from the project partner.

To provide assurance that the project partner has authorised the proposed contribution or commitment the letter or email should be signed by the named contact, stating the capacity in which they are providing the sign off.

A well written project partner letter of support will confirm the organisation’s commitment to the proposed project by articulating:

  • the benefits of the collaboration
  • its relevance
  • potential impact.

The project partner letter should also identify:

  • the value, relevance and possible benefits of the proposed work to the partner
  • the period of support
  • the full nature of the collaboration or support
  • how the partner will provide added value.

Where relevant to the project, details should be provided of the projected market size, customers and sales and how the organisation will commercialise the technology beyond the project. Project partner contributions, whether in cash or in kind, should be explained in detail in the project partner letter of support.

You should attach all documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface.

For further details and help in applying, please read the research funding guide.

Your host organisation will be able to provide advice and guidance on completing your application.

After completing the application

You must click ‘Submit document’, which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration.

Your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process.

Applicants should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the funding opportunity closing date.

AHRC must receive your application by 4:00pm UK time on 13 December 2022.

Successful applicants

Successful applicants will be notified in April 2023.

How we will assess your application

Before we assess an application, AHRC will check it for eligibility. Applications that do not adhere to these rules will be disqualified and will not progress any further. Incomplete, obscene or fraudulent entries will also be disqualified at this stage.

AHRC will then share the entirety of the content of the applications, excluding the applicant contact details (email address), with the selection panel via a secure online portal. The selection panel will represent diverse perspectives and specialisms and will include experts from representatives from the AHRC Peer Review College and other relevant public and community engagement experts.

The selection panel will then assess all remaining applications against the assessment criteria below and assign an initial grade (one to six), where one is unsatisfactory and six is exceptional. After considering all proposals, the selection panel will select the highest grading applications that meet our assessment and eligibility criteria.

Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications, we are not able to provide individual feedback if you are unsuccessful at the application stage.

Assessment criteria

The assessors will apply these criteria when reviewing your application.

Public audience is clearly identified, and engagement activity is relevant and beneficial to them

The project identifies a clearly defined public audience and proposes public engagement activity that responds to their needs and interests. It must have the potential to positively impact them.

The audience group or groups must be specific to the project. ‘The general public’ is too vague, ‘18 to 25 year olds living in Leeds’ is clearer. The project is collaborative, inclusive, accessible, relevant and responsive.

Equitable partnerships

The project demonstrates potential for excellent partnership working that incorporates collaboration, consultation or co-production methods (or a mixed model including some of these) that are fair and mutually beneficial. Proposed partnerships have the potential to lead to new and innovative research approaches and community outcomes.

Collaborative public engagement methodologies

The project engages its public audience and partners using collaborative methods (for example co-production or co-design) to generate a two-way conversation about the research and research process. These methods must be relevant and appropriate for engaging the audience group, partners, or both. The underlying research has the potential to be improved by the proposed public engagement activity, and become higher quality, better informed and more useful.

Engagement activity may be based on existing research or new research projects.

Facilitating access, diversity and inclusion

The project demonstrates an understanding of potential barriers to access, diversity and inclusion for communities and provides a plan of how to remove these barriers.

Projects are logically and realistically planned

Projects must take place between June 2023 and March 2024. They must:

  • represent good value for money
  • present a clear delivery plan that is adaptable to changing COVID-19-related restrictions, an evaluation plan, and outcomes that are achievable and measurable, within budget and timeframe
  • demonstrate a rigorous ethics and safeguarding plan for managing the health, safety and wellbeing of public audiences.

Projects show potential for positive impact and legacy

Projects must demonstrate potential for:

  • learnings to be shared with the public, researchers, policymakers and partners
  • meaningful and positive long-term impact
  • the scoping of future areas of research, partnership opportunities or public engagement.

Contact details

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Additional info

What we expect from successful applicants

Successful applicants will:

  • be expected to demonstrate proof of an up-to-date Disclosure and Barring Service certificate if working with children, young people or vulnerable people
  • attend a start of project workshop, facilitated by the AHRC, to discuss communications and branding, ways of working and evaluation, and facilitate potential connections with other AHRC-funded research projects as appropriate
  • attend a mid-project point catch up
  • keep AHRC regularly updated with progress by email
  • work with AHRC on communications and branding activity to support engagement projects, with guidance and information supplied on press releases, social media and digital
  • have the opportunity to get involved with other AHRC public engagement activities
  • be expected to provide updates about engagement activity during the lifetime of the projects, and to evaluate their projects that follows guidance provided by AHRC, and share their findings with AHRC by June 2024
  • be invited to participate in an optional roundtable after the delivery period to:
    • share their experiences and learnings with AHRC and other relevant partner organisations
    • help shape future public engagement funding opportunities
  • be expected, with support from AHRC, to engage with the NHS and other partners where there may be opportunities for legacy projects or to share project findings.

As part of the evaluation, AHRC will provide successful applicants with guidance and a survey to measure and evaluate their project impacts.

Applicants will also be expected to:

  • provide AHRC with a brief end-of-project report
  • submit their project outcomes to Researchfish.

Terms and conditions

This guidance, and these terms, constitute the rules of the scheme.

AHRC reserves the right to alter or amend any of these rules or cancel the funding opportunity at any time in their absolute discretion.

Your participation and your data

Your offer to participate in this funding opportunity is subject to continued acceptance of these conditions. By applying to the funding opportunity, you accept these rules and guidance.

You must supply full details as required and comply with all rules of the funding opportunity.

You recognise that your application and personal data will be shared with AHRC and UKRI for the purpose of administering this funding opportunity.

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