In this blog, Kris Southby, from the Centre for Health Promotion Research at Leeds Beckett University, provides an update on how work to set up a research-practice ‘hub’ themed around public health and communities at Leeds Beckett is progressing.

There is a recognition among colleagues at LBU that whilst we do excellent research around the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities, it can often be fragmented – with individuals and teams often working separately from each other. Being more connected – both internally and with external academic and practice partners – will, we think, enable us to do research that is more impactful and to be more responsive to local need in the Leeds city region.

Colleagues and I have been scoping out setting up some kind of ‘hub’ at LBU themed around public health and communities to help facilitate these connections. More information about the background to the work is available here. So far, we have held 30 conversations with academic and non-academic staff from across the university and with people from across local government and the voluntary and community sector in the region. The main things we have found are:

  • A broad support for the idea of a hub.
  • We identified 6 ‘core functions’ of a potential hub. These are the things that people would like to see a hub do to support their work. They include fostering connections between colleagues, facilitating information flow, promoting interdisciplinary thinking and working, supporting local need, and balancing strategic and responsive activity.
  • A need for building consensus among potential stakeholders as the hub develops.

While we have developed a mandate to continue developing the concept, there are lots of issues to resolve before any sort of hub becomes operational. We have been talking about a ‘hub’, but the precise form and function is unclear. What would its scope and remit be? How would it fit with existing structures, both within the university and externally? PaRC is providing a platform to integrate public health research and practice across Yorkshire & Humber, so how do we complement this? Does a hub at LBU even need to be its own, new ‘thing’ or could the functions be fulfilled by what’s already in place? What is clear at this stage is that not doing anything isn’t a good option.

The next stage of our work is to try to reach some consensus decisions in answer to these key questions and to identify people interested in taking this agenda forward. We are working closely with PaRC and have received funding from the Yorkshire & Humber Clinical Research Network to support this work. From January-March 2021 we’re holding a series of workshops and further consultative discussions. After this, we hope to have further refined a model for a research-practice ‘hub’ at Leeds Beckett.

Kris Southby is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Health Promotion Research at Leeds Beckett University. If you would like to be involved in the Leeds Beckett research-practice ‘hub’ development, please contact Kris on