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Not a tick box exercise

  • Posted by Annie,
  • Deputy Director,
  • in Listen up,
  • June '20

How the Vocal brand was created

Who are we?

We’ve been connecting people with health research since 2003 as the Public Programmes team, we’ve brought people and researchers together to improve the way that research is done. However, being honest with ourselves, we knew that whilst people value what we do, they’re often unaware of it unless they’ve worked with us directly.

As we were deciding how to improve our organisation and make our work more accessible to everyone, it was clear that we needed to listen more to a wider range of people and understand what they wanted from us.

How we consulted

In 2019 we reached 300 people through surveys, interviews and workshops. We asked their views about our work and how we communicated it. We talked to people who already worked with us and people who had never heard of us before. We spoke to people in community settings such as libraries and community centres to make sure that we heard from people who we wouldn’t reach online.

Half of the people we surveyed were from postcodes in the most deprived areas of Greater Manchester by index of multiple deprivation. We valued the time that people spent with us and people were given vouchers in return for taking part.

As a valued member of the team, I’ve been involved in the procurement process for the rebrand project right though all engagement and delivery stages and I hope and believe that my involvement has made a real impact. We’ve achieved a genuine partnership and co-design - NOT a tick box exercise.’ ‘

—Grace McCorkle, BRAG and Manchester Clinical Research Facility Executive

What people told us

We found that there was a low awareness about health research in general. People associated research with clinical trials rather than as opportunities to work alongside researchers and others to give their opinions. People wanted to see more real life case studies of our work and the difference that it makes to research, along with more diversity in representation of people who were involved.

Everyone was wary of jargon and ‘marketing speak’ and wanted us to focus on openness, inclusivity and breaking down barriers. People wanted opportunities to be involved that were quick, easy and interesting and wanted ongoing communication from us. They also wanted us to be honest about where we can improve.

All of the feedback from patients, carers, members of the public, researchers and partners has resulted in our new name, colourful brand and website. We’re getting better at talking plainly and being clear about why we do what we do.

We believe that everyone should have a voice in health research and we work with people and researchers to benefit everyone and lead to better diagnoses, treatments and care in the future.


Many thanks to everyone who took part in the consultation and shared their views and opinions.

Many thanks to Cassie Wilson from the Vocal team and Creative Concern.