Health research ambassadors


Health inequalities are unfair and avoidable differences in health across the population, and some communities are more likely to be affected than others. For example, ethnic minority groups, people who are homeless or those who are disabled may find it difficult to access healthcare services.

The same people may also find it difficult to take part in or be represented in research. This happens for a variety of reasons, from studies not looking at issues relevant to these communities to a lack of trust between community members and researchers. This might lead to research findings which don’t consider the needs of underserved communities or which aren’t relevant to them.

The health research ambassador project draws on an approach previously used to develop and deliver community-based research projects which raised awareness of environmental justice issues and inequality. It builds on the Black and Green Ambassador scheme developed by Ujima Radio and Bristol Green Capital Partnership.

People in Health West of England (PHWE) has been working to adapt the ambassador model to the context of health research. The team at PHWE set up an initiative aimed at improving connections between researchers, organisations and underserved communities.

What wePoster describing health research ambassador programme to researchers did

As a pilot project, we recruited three Health Research Ambassadors in spring 2022. The ambassadors worked with the team at PHWE to set up and deliver a series of workshops with women who have experience of seeking asylum in the UK.

The focus of these workshops was to build good relationships and find out about the needs of these women in relation to their mental health and wellbeing. We used a range of creative and practical strategies do this such as foraging, cooking, practicing Tai-Chi and playing games to explore wellbeing and mental health, and to learn about the role of a Health Research Ambassador.

The women who took part in our workshops consistently provided positive feedback about them. Several women have also expressed an interest in taking on the role of a Health Research Ambassador in the future themselves.

What next?

We have funding to work with community partners Caafi Health who are now leading this project as part of the Research Engagement Network Development (REND) funding that we have from NHS England.

We want to improve connections between researchers, organisations and underserved communities by:

  • Continuing to build on and adapt the ambassador role to examine health and social care research and inequalities
  • Sharing and influencing research priorities identified by underserved communities with researchers
  • Adapting research outcomes to make them relevant and beneficial for different communities
  • Working to address informational needs identified by communities – for example how to interpret research findings and make use of them in everyday life
  • Recruiting a new generation of Health Research Ambassadors and developing a network of ambassadors from different underserved communities in the Bristol region
  • Learning from our work locally to embed the Health Research Ambassador model within different organisations to encourage and inform other initiatives across the UK

Current ambassadors

Samina Baig

Samina has over 12 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, working as a medical representative and sales management, as well as in curriculum development and European training.  She has a BSc in Biomedical Science.

As a school governor and regular volunteer, she is an active member of the Bristol community. Samina is passionate about healthcare and specifically about ensuring health equality for everyone. She has recently been supporting the Women Research Engagement Network (WREN) in recruiting members from minoritised groups for health research.

Alina Fieroiu

Alina’s interests and aspirations are driven by a genuine desire to make a positive impact on public health and wellness. Her interest lies in health education and sharing information about healthy living and disease prevention with others.

Community engagement is a key area of interest for Alina. Through her Health Ambassador role, she connects diverse local communities with the resources they need to improve their well-being, with the aim of making an ongoing and tangible difference to their lives.

Zia Haque

Zia has a wide range of engineering, management and business skills and ran his own business for 20 years. During this time, he became a Fellow of The Institute of Sales and Marketing Management.

Over the years he has organised many fundraising events, raising money to tackle Sickle Cell Thalassaemia, Diabetes Bristol, Prostate Cancer, Bristol Older People’s Forum and The Children’s Hospice South West.  He currently sits on the ITV West Diversity panel and is a qualified Diabetes type 2 Mentor who is committed to supporting people to improve their health.

Get in touchQR code linking to short form for Health Ambassadors contact

If you are a researcher who would like to connect with underserved communities, please get in touch by scanning this QR code.

Once you have scanned the code you will be taken to a page containing a short contact form.

By completing this form you will be helping our team see how the Health Ambassadors might be able to assist you.

Links and downloads

Health Research Ambassador programme evaluation report