Applying research and evidence to practice can make good public services even better – that’s the message as Hampshire County Council and the University of Southampton embark on a brand-new collaboration to share research expertise across the two organisations.
Together, the County Council and University have established a Joint Working Agreement to strengthen existing collaboration, making it quicker and easier to get joint research projects off the ground. The arrangement will also pave the way for more University students to undertake work placements with the County Council, further supporting knowledge exchange between the two organisations. Engagement between the two stemmed from an initial request from the then Leader of the County Council to make it easier for officers to engage with researchers, predominately focusing on engaging at senior officers’ level and knowledge exchange activities.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Keith Mans, said: “Our organisations are at the forefront of research and public service delivery and it is right that we continue to strengthen joint working for the benefit of Hampshire. Together we will do more to apply world-class research and innovation to solve ‘live’ issues which face communities. This could, for example, involve joining up with the University’s Economics Department to support a more equitable, happy and healthy society by 2050.”
Professor Mark Smith, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, said: “I’m very pleased to sign this agreement with Councillor Keith Mans which signals a new chapter in the relationship between the University of Southampton and Hampshire County Council. There are many synergies between our two organisations and the projects we’ve already engaged in together are bringing excellent opportunities for our researchers and students. I’m confident that, together, we can continue to enjoy a positive and collaborative working partnership that will bring many beneficial outcomes to the Council and the people of Hampshire.”
Since 2018, Southampton researchers have collaborated successfully with the County Council on two projects – ‘Customers Journeys beyond CART’ and ‘Connect to Support Hampshire’.
The goal of ‘Customer Journeys beyond CART’ involved PhD researchers from Social Science who collected and analysed customer feedback of the Council’s Contact Assessment and Resolution Team (CART) – the first point of contact for someone requiring advice from Adults’ Health and Care including issues related to aging. PhD students Bernice Kuang and Juan Pinto del Rio delivered a written report, which informed policy choices about benefits and challenges in gathering data from customers.
‘Connect to support Hampshire’ helped the Council to increase the ‘Connect to Support’ website’s visibility and ability to better inform people across Hampshire about services available to them. A key output from this project was a written report ‘Accessibility and usability recommendations for cognitive impairments’ submitted by PhD candidate Neil Rogers from the University’s Web Science Institute.