Community Insight Group

Last updated on 27 Sep 2023

The Community Insight Group existed between July 2021 and September 2023. Our Community Committee has now replaced this Group. Head to our Community Committee webpage to read more.

Welcome to our HRA Community Insight Group webpage where you can find out more about the group, its members, the work they do and progress on our action plan.

Around 1,000 dedicated and committed people give their time to support the HRA's work. They make up our Research Ethics Committees (REC), Confidentiality Advisory Group (CAG), and are part of our public involvement network (PIN). Their efforts support health and social care research, and make an invaluable contribution, to our vision which is for high quality health and social care research today, which improves everyone’s health and wellbeing tomorrow.

The Community Insight Group was recruited in 2021 to help us support and value all members of our HRA community.  The members of the group are drawn from Research Ethics Committees, the Confidentiality Advisory Group and those who are part of our public involvement network.

What is the group doing?

We established the Community Insight Group so that the HRA could hear ongoing feedback from individual community members, discuss ideas for how we can improve their experience, and to seek early reactions to relevant policy or service changes that will affect members of our community.

The Community Insight Group meet every two months to share their insights, discuss ideas on how to improve the experience of being a member of the HRA Community – defined for these purposes as being a member of a Research Ethics Committee, of the Confidentiality Advisory Group or a member of the public and to help us to assess how we are doing.,

We asked members to reflect on their experience of contributing to the work of this group.

Rita Patel

Working with this group, since it first met in July 2021, I’ve shared my views and listened to the views of other members of the group including the wider HRA Community. Together we are influencing the future for all our members.

Rita Patel, REC
Clare Sanderson

I believe that bringing a group of all the HRA volunteers together has been beneficial to the groups themselves as well as to the HRA.

Clare Sanderson, CAG

If you would like to know more about the group, are interested in finding out about becoming a member of the group, or if you would like to share your thoughts and ideas about any of the items on the Action Plan please contact us.

Community Survey

In March 2021 the HRA carried out a full community survey to understand your experiences of being a member. The results of this survey were shared with the Community Insight Group and, working with them, we developed a further, short, follow up survey in Spring 2022 to learn about what’s working well and not so well. These surveys went to everyone who contributes to the work of the HRA as members of our Research Ethics Committees, the Confidentiality Advisory Group and those who are part of our patient and public involvement network.

Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions and provide valuable feedback.

We are pleased that satisfaction remains high with 77% being satisfied or fairly satisfied in their role and a similar number who would recommending working with the HRA to others. Commitment is also highly rated with 84% of community members indicating that they would be likely to continue their involvement with the HRA.  However, from your comments we acknowledge that workload remains a concern along with issues around training and access to training.

We recognise that we have work to do to improve the experiences of everyone and ensure that there are no unnecessary barriers to people choosing to work and stay with us. We are using the information that you have provided to inform the work we are undertaking in partnership with the HRA Community Insight group to engage effectively with you and ensure that we welcome, value, support and recognise your contribution.

Working with the Community Insight Group we have used the findings of these surveys to develop an action plan which guides our work.

Action plan

We used the findings of the community surveys and worked with the Community Insight Group to develop an action plan which guides our work.

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You asked us to: streamline communications with you and ensure that through them we welcome, value and support you, and recognise your contribution.

We have: Held sessions with the Community Insight Group to inform us about the types of communications and engagement that would be useful.

Established a monthly public involvement newsletter which aims to share insights and feedback from members of the public who have worked with us.

In future we will: Continue working to improve our communication with you.


You asked us to: establish ways for you to tell us what you think and ensure that this informs what we do.

We have: Supported the HRA Community Insight Group to meet regularly to discuss important issues including developing a light-touch survey in March 2022.

Supported a representative of the Community Insight Group to attend HRA Board meetings to provide an update on discussions from the Group, ensuring that this can inform Board decisions.

Consulted about broadening the scope of the group so members are also asked for their views on how we run the HRA and the HRA’s activities.

In future we will: Increase the role of the HRA Community in the HRA’s governance, ensuring that your views inform what we do.


You asked us to: support opportunities for you to meet, share and engage with each other.

We have: Supported face to face events which serve as an opportunity for members to meet, share and engage with each other, including the HRA strategy launch, eight REC Development Days and two CAG away days in 2022.

In future we will: We’ll continue to deliver ongoing, in-person engagement opportunities.

Consider how we can act on your requests to make it easier for you to communicate and engage with other community members.

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You asked us to: provide accessible information about the opportunities and benefits of working with the HRA. .

We have: Made it easier to find information about becoming a member.

Made Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points available for REC members.

Collected demographic data on our community through our community surveys.

In future we will: Use demographic data to help inform recruitment campaigns, allowing us to reach those who are less well-represented in our community.


You asked us to: ask about your experiences to ensure that your role is achievable within the time you commit to us.

We have: Asked about your workload in the Community survey and are providing clearer information about workload in the application process.

Regularly asked REC and CAG members to provide feedback with a dedicated feedback form.

Held feedback sessions with some members of the public to understand their experiences working with us and learn from these.

Involved community members in workshops to find out what's important to them in using a learning system and involved them trying out a different learning system.

In future we will: Continue to check in with you about your experiences and invite feedback to inform how we work with you.

Use what we have learnt from our workshops with Community members to help us provide a learning experience and system that better meets the needs of our community members


You asked us to: support everyone to engage with and contribute to the HRA without being disadvantaged.

We have: Moved REC and CAG meetings online which has resulted in benefits, such as reducing travel time for existing members, and attracting new members who would find travelling to face-to-face meetings a challenge. But we are aware that for some members, this has created new challenges and we’re working to better understand these and explore how we can address them.

Made reasonable adjustments to support individual members of our community to participate fully.

In future we will: Develop a new public facing HRA website that everyone can access and understand.

Collect comprehensive demographic data to help us identify who is not currently included in the Community.  We want to understand why this might be the case and seek to address this going forward.

Build new relationships with community groups and work with them to understand how we can continue to expand our public involvement network and reach new people.

Explore how we can increase employer support for people to take time to work with us beginning with NHS employers.

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You asked us to: publicly acknowledge your role in what we have achieved.

We have: Arranged events to mark our tenth anniversary, putting members of the HRA community alongside high-profile speakers such as Chris Whitty and promoting the conversations publicly. We talked about our achievements, acknowledging the role of the HRA Community.

Included qualitative and quantitative data demonstrating the value of the HRA community in HRA reporting.

Involved members of our public involvement network in the development and launch of the three-year HRA strategy. The launch included the opportunity to observe a mock REC meeting, demonstrating the role of RECs in delivering the HRA’s activities and shining a spotlight on their work.

In future we will: Explore ways to acknowledge how members of our community contribute to the work of the HRA in our annual report.


You asked us to: personally, thank you and recognise your contribution.

We have: Supported and encouraged HRA staff working with members of our public involvement network to provide specific feedback reflecting on the difference that their involvement has made.

We regularly thank our REC and CAG members in our communications with them.

Held a session with the Community Insight Group to explore how we might more meaningfully thank our community members and recognise their contribution. This is informing our communications and engagement planning and other initiatives to recognise and thank our community.

In future we will: Explore ways to recognise the contribution of our members in ways that are meaningful to them, such as letters to their employer to form part of appraisals etc.


You asked us to: proactively seek your views to inform all our work.

We have: Worked with members of the public involvement network to launch our new strategy and invited community members to join us. This event included opportunities to take part in discussions about how we should take our strategy forward, which is informing our work.

Regularly consulted the Community Insight Group on work that is relevant to or will impact our community.

Asked members of the community to provide their feedback on our proposed business plan for the coming year.

In future we will: Act on the proposal for a Community Committee.

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