Project Overview

Welcome to the blog of the Reaching Out project, ran by the Wessex Public Involvement Network. 
We want to offer everyone the opportunity to have their voices heard, and a way to influence the future of healthcare. We want to celebrate the diversity of our community and empower all social groups in Southampton to be visible, be active and be listened to.

What is the Reaching Out project about?

Our aim is to try to build relationships and begin to work with currently underrepresented social groups in Patient and Public Involvement, or PPI. PPI can be explained as research that is actively planned and/or conducted by or with members of the public, rather than tofor or about them.

Through PPI, laypeople can provide researchers with valuable advice, or work collaboratively on things such as: understanding research priorities; writing grant applications; co-developing interventions; carrying out research; interpreting data or dissemination. This helps make research more meaningful and relevant, ultimately improving healthcare for everyone.

Why is this important?

Diversity in PPI is an incredibly important consideration. PPI helps shape the way that research is done, which ultimately influences the services provided by our health and social care systems. Therefore, it is crucial that a variety of viewpoints is represented.

Southampton has a vibrant, diverse population. However, our previous work (using survey data, which we compared to demographics data from the region) shows that there are several groups that we are not currently working with. These are:

  • People aged 26-55
  • Men
  • LGBT+ people
  • Black, Asian, Mixed and non-British White people
  • People who follow a religion
  • People with average or low educational background
  • People in employment

We want to change this, and give all of these people an opportunity to have their say. This blog documents our journey towards that goal.

Our plans

We plan to work collaboratively with partners in underrepresented communities to run a storytelling event, celebrating diversity. We hope that by breaking down the initial barriers and learning about more about the communities in our city, we can start to build sustainable relationships and find ways to welcome more diverse communities into public involvement.

In this blog we will document our successes and learning experiences, so that we can share them with others who are involved with PPI – professionals and public contributors alike.


The Reaching Out Southampton project is part of the pilot Reaching Out programme which is funded by INVOLVE and the Research Design Service. The Southampton project is lead by Megan Barlow-Pay (Research Design Service South Central) and Caroline Barker (University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust) and is supported by Wessex Public Involvement Network partners.