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How can public and volunteer involvement shape health and social care in disadvantaged East Anglian coastal communities? (POLANDF_U20ARCIIRPFMH)

School of Health Sciences

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Prof Fiona Poland , Dr J Grotz No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The successful applicant will be committed to developing progressive research with disadvantaged communities through this PhD at the University of East Anglia. They will explore how community and volunteer involvement can shape health and social care in at least one deprived coastal community in the East of England (EoE). This is a unique opportunity to advance knowledge of volunteering and inclusion with communities, drawing on mixed-methods research design. This is a fully-funded PhD with the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East of England (EoE) research theme Inclusive Involvement in Research for Practice-led Health and Social Care (IIRP). The student will benefit from expert multidisciplinary supervision and outstanding wider research network support. Supervisors Poland, Beresford and Grotz offer national and international expertise in building community-based health and social care research partnerships and methodologies, in sociology, social policy, volunteering and co-production. 

PhD research questions and proposed work must align with aims of the NIHR ARC EoE IIRP Theme The theme aims to build community-inclusive understandings of research decision-making in health and social care by providing high quality evidence and methods for involving communities. Such evidence is vital to ensure equitable and sustainable support as we confront global pandemic challenges.  

We will prioritise projects if they:  

Develop links between the IIRP Theme and at least one other ARC Theme; and/or  

Inclusively involve communities from Great Yarmouth and Waveney (one of ARC EoE’s four ‘populations in focus’, others being Thurrock, Peterborough and Fenland, Stevenage; as communities where people experience income and health inequalities and reduced access to applied research to redress these.  

Increase understanding of volunteer roles in building inclusive communities. 

Training opportunities: A comprehensive, innovative and tailored training programme will be agreed in consultation with supervisors, with training elements provided by: the supervisors, ARC theme colleagues, cross-University and external specialist providers.

For more information on the supervisors for this project, please go here,

This is a PHD programme. The start date is 1st June 2021. The mode of study is full time. The studentship length is 3 years. 

Entry requirements: Acceptable first degree in Health Sciences, Sociology, Social Policy, Social Anthropology, Psychology or a Professional Health and Social Care degree. Standard entry requirement is 2:1 and a Master’s degree in a related topic area or equivalent research experience. Satisfactory Enhanced DBS Check required.  

Funding Notes

This PhD project is a fully funded studentship for Home/EU applicants, funded jointly by UEA and ARC IIRP. These studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise of Home/EU fees, an annual stipend of £15,285 and £1,000 per annum to support research training. Only UK/EU level University fees are covered; applicants subject to other fee levels will need to secure additional funding to cover these.


i) Poland, F., Charlesworth, G., Leung, P., & Birt, L. (2019). Embedding patient and public involvement: managing tacit and explicit expectations. Health Expectations, 22(6), 1231-1239.
ii) Keenan, J., Poland, F., Boote, J., Howe, A., Wythe, H., Varley, A., ... Wellings, A. (2019). ‘We’re passengers sailing in the same ship, but we have our own berths to sleep in’: Evaluating patient and public involvement within a regional research programme: An action research project informed by Normalisation Process Theory. PLoS One, 14, [0215953].
iii) Wilson, P., Mathie, E., Poland, F., Keenan, J., Howe, A., …Goodman, C. How embedded is public involvement in mainstream health research in England a decade after policy implementation? A realist evaluation. Journal of Health Services Research and Policy, 23(2): 98-106
iv) Backhouse, T., Kenkmann, A., Lane, K., Penhale, B., Poland, F., & Killett, A. (2016). Older care-home residents as collaborators or advisors in research: a systematic review. Age and Ageing. 10.1093/ageing/afv201
v) Smith, D. H., Stebbins, R. A., Grotz, J. eds (2016) The Palgrave Handbook of Volunteering, Civic Participation, and Nonprofit Associations, Palgrave, Basingstoke,
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