What have we learnt? A year on from the first UK Community Partner Summit
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Following an observed need to build community partner infrastructure and support to enhance community-university partnerships, a successful bid was made to the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. This funding provided an opportunity for community partners to come together with engaged academics at the first ever UK Community Partner Summit. They resolved to set up a community partner network to help build capacity for effective community-university partnerships, and to influence the policy environment which supports this work. This article reflects on the activity of the working group in seeking to establish the network, and introduces some of the concepts that have proved critical to its development. Drawing on a wealth of perspectives from a range of sources including academic and grey literature, community partner experiences, and international work, we open up some of the challenges that we have faced, and explore some of the implications of our first year’s work together. We reflect on the time it takes to establish any form of network, the need to be clear about definitions and boundaries, and the challenge of changing cultures. We conclude that the progress with the network to date is encouraging, and we look forward to building on our learning thus far, to develop stronger community-university partnerships of the future.
Keywords: community partner infrastructure and networks, partnership resilience, community-university partnership
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