Jump to navigation Jump to content

Building community connections

Our Journey

Our community engagement began in 2016 with a visit from our neighbouring high school. It has since grown from strength to strength and now involves many different organisations and individuals from across Edinburgh BioQuarter and our neighbouring communities, delivering a vibrant collection of activities.

A visit from a neighbour

Our community engagement was initially developed by the Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CRM), a University of Edinburgh medical research centre located at Edinburgh BioQuarter, where it was pioneered by Dr Cathy Southworth.

It began in 2016, with a visit to the centre by a group of pupils from the neighbouring high school – Castlebrae Community High School. At the end of the visit, Kelsey Wallace plucked up the courage to ask Cathy whether any work experience opportunities were available to her during the summer.

Nothing of this kind had been offered in the past, however a spark was lit in Cathy’s mind and she started thinking about the need to provide opportunities to young people from the local community.

Our first intern

Kelsey became the Centre for Regenerative Medicine’s first intern, leading to the establishment of an annual CRM Summer Internship – a four week long paid internship, offered each year to a 16+ pupil from Castlebrae Community Campus motivated by science.

“I told my classmates about the work and they all felt it was inspirational. It’s made biology easier for me, I understand it now, especially the cell work as at the centre it was so much more advanced.

When I first came to the centre I felt awkward, I didn’t know what to do with myself, now I know what I’m doing, I know exactly what to do and when to do it, I feel more natural. I feel like I could go to another science building and get into it, feeling more confident.”

– Kelsey Wallace

Read more about our summer internship

An inspired idea

Not long after that initial school visit, one of the scientists at CRM, Sabine Gogolok, also approached Cathy with an inspired idea to develop a mentoring programme to support senior pupils in their study of science.

The highly successful ScienceMentors@Castlebrae mentoring programme was thus established, initially driven by a group of young researchers from the Centre for Regenerative Medicine it soon expanded to involve young scientists from organisations across Edinburgh BioQuarter.

Read more about our mentoring programme

Becoming award-winning

The community engagement programme itself continued to grow and expand beyond these initial activities.

Engagement with local primary schools was built through school and holiday science clubs and, in 2018, local partners came together to deliver the first Craigmilar Community Science Festival.

In 2019, the project was awarded the University of Edinburgh’s very first Social Responsibility and Sustainability Community Partnership Award.

Then, later that same year, Castleview Primary School won the prestigious Rolls Royce Science Prize for raising STEM Capital – a direct result of the partnership and activities delivered through the Community Science Engagement Project.

Read more about our award

Delivering more

The project had been spearheaded by Cathy and colleagues at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine. However, as it grew, it naturally expanded to involve more and more people from across the wider campus.

In 2019, the project officially became an Edinburgh BioQuarter initiative, with Cathy moving into the role as Community Engagement Manager on behalf of the BioQuarter.

This was an exciting development, which would allow the project to deliver more and help establish a real sense of community and place around the BioQuarter.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Edinburgh BioQuarter collaborated with the University of Edinburgh’s King’s Building science departments to deliver 1350 STEM activity boxes to the families of six of our neighbouring primary schools after raising a phenomenal £20,000.

Read more about STEM boxes

Looking to the future

Edinburgh BioQuarter’s vision is to provide a welcoming place where people from local neighbourhoods and beyond can walk, shop, relax and influence projects that are revolutionising local and global health and wellbeing.

Our community engagement programmes sit at the very heart of this vision.

By bringing healthcare professionals, scientists and businesses together to engage with our local community, we will not only improve the outcomes of young people living in the neighbourhood, but will see a real benefit from this engagement on the work happening on Edinburgh BioQuarter.

read more about our vision

Get Involved

There are many ways different ways to get involved and support our ongoing activities.  We are also keen to support activities and projects initiated by groups or individuals based in the local community.

Find out about opportunities to get involved