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How to use creative community based approaches

We bring patients, researchers, communities and artists together to develop creative projects that raise awareness of health research in communities.

A few people smiling, singing and dancing

Here are some tips we’d like to share from our learning on the Breathtaking Lungs project, if you are thinking of taking a similar approach.

  • Use an asset-based approach that builds on existing community organisations and initiatives. Add value to what organisations are already doing.
  • Invest time in getting to know people at the locations, events and activities that they already know and feel comfortable at.
  • Be visible, visit community events and spaces to talk to people about what you are planning and listen to their views and ideas.
  • We ran a couple of focus groups with people with respiratory conditions to develop the project ideas and the communications plan. Participants were paid in line with INVOLVE guidelines.
  • Encourage people to get involved in a way that is comfortable for them. Demonstrate that you value them and their input.
  • Recognise that people with health conditions can often feel unwell or unable to attend an event. Build in flexibility.
  • Make it as easy as possible for people to take part e.g. phone calls before a session, support with transport arrangements and costs.
  • Foster the social dimension of the project. The chance to meet other people who were facing similar health challenges, in social setting was a strong motivating factor for some people. Once people had taken part in a few sessions with the singing group, they were more interested in taking part in other activities.
  • Offer a range of different creative opportunities for people to get involved in. We offered singing groups, harmonica sessions, a youth art graffiti project and an artist led project.
  • Work with experienced creative partners.
  • Use creative sessions as a way to start discussions about health research.
  • Once a group is established, comfortable together and have talked about research from their own points of view, invite researchers along to join in.
  • Involve people in producing artworks, sharing stories and organising events that will reach wider local audiences.
  • Use the project as a springboard for people to take part in research patient panels and community health projects.