Help shape our research

What is a research volunteer?

“Having [people with arthritis] in committee discussions has been a really positive move. They cut through jargon and ask the simple but important questions that we scientists rarely do.” Professor Luke O'Neill, Versus Arthritis funding committee chair

Our research volunteers are people with lived experience of arthritis who are key to bringing real life perspectives to our research funding activities. Our research volunteers work as equal partners in all our activities to ensure that the research we fund and support is of the highest quality and based on the pressing needs of people with arthritis. Our collective aim is to maximise improvements to their quality of life through research, now and in the future.

What does this role involve?

“I am asked to take part in a range of activities, such as visiting centres of excellence, commenting on products designed to make life easier for patients, lobbying my MP, working with European partners in OA [osteoarthritis] research and co-delivering workshops to help scientists involve patients in their activities. It keeps me busy and I get great job satisfaction!” Maureen Grossman, research volunteer.

The role of research volunteer is varied, and individuals can choose the level of work and time commitment that suits them. Examples of activities that our research volunteers are currently involved in include:

  • Working as a member of one of our research advisory groups to help inform research funding priorities.
  • Contributing to the development of our research strategy.
  • Reviewing research proposals and helping us decide which to fund.
  • Supporting researchers and partners to involve people with arthritis effectively in their research.
  • Helping us to monitor the progress of our funded research projects.
  • Helping us tell the story of the impact of our research on people’s lives.

Learn more about the principles that guide us in involving and supporting our volunteers.

Why might you become a research volunteer?

Quite simply – to make a difference!

  • You will be helping to ensure that all our research activities are rooted in the needs of people with arthritis.
  • You will be supporting researchers and partner organisations to recognize the value of working with people with arthritis and how to do it well.
  • You will be spreading the word that research provides real hope and makes a real difference to people with arthritis.

You may benefit in other ways too by becoming involved with our charity. For example, by using our helpline or health information pages to learn more about your condition and how to manage it, by becoming involved with a group in your area, or joining our online community.

What support would I receive?

Our research involvement offer is about more than just training. To support our research volunteers and ensure high quality involvement, we are committed to a package of support which is outlined below.

  • Research and wider charity opportunities - There will be many opportunities throughout the year for you to put your skills and experiences to good use. You may decide to just volunteer in research or you might take advantage of other opportunities in the wider charity.
  • Volunteer journey – we want to build an enduring relationship with you. We will work with you to build a “journey” so you can develop in the role and if you want to, move on to new opportunities that build on your experiences and interests.
  • Induction, training and development – when you join us you will be introduced to the charity, our research and the volunteer role. If you undertake specific tasks, you will be given relevant training beforehand. You will be continuously supported by the research involvement team or other colleagues in the charity.
  • Representation – we have a small advisory group which brings together representatives of the volunteers and the charity to monitor our activities, plan for the future and manage volunteer suggestions and issues. We are keen to listen to our volunteers and ensure you have a consistent and worthwhile experience with us.
  • Feedback, communication and maximising impact – it is important that you know what difference you are making. We will feed back to you on the impact of your work and we will regularly report back to the whole group against our performance measures. You will also be invited to feed back on your experiences of being a research volunteer so that we can learn and improve. We will also send you regular updates on research activities and news from the charity and you will be invited to join our charity wide Involvement network to connect you to other volunteers.

Find out more

To find out more about becoming a research volunteer, contact us at patientinsight@versusarthritis.org.