Our time for research is up, but don’t worry you haven’t heard the last of us!

Our 5 year programme comes to an end this month, so in this blog we update you on how far we’ve come in that time and where we’d still like to go. And don’t just take our word for it, we’ve been gathering the perspectives of a host of experts too.


On Monday evening we hosted a Forum to mark the end of our research time here at CommonHealth. This included an exhibition of posters showcasing the findings from the 8 CommonHealth projects, reflections from 4 experts from the worlds of social enterprise and public health, and summaries from Prof Rachel Baker and Prof Cam Donaldson.


The distance travelled

Prof Rachel Baker introduced the evening summarising the advances made by the collective findings of the programme:

  • New evidence of the nature of the benefits realised through the activities of social enterprises across a range of geographies, industries, and activities, and working with people who have different needs and vulnerabilities

  • A developing discourse around social enterprise and public health and the interface between those ‘worlds’

  • Potential for new avenues of research in partnerships and lots to talk about for the future.

This was supported by Prof Cam Donaldson’s comments that:

“We have pulled off one the largest ever research programmes on social enterprise and managed to conceptualise and evidence a new idea for public policy; that any social enterprise, even without mentioning health in its mission, can be portrayed as acting on social determinants of health. This is because the various contexts in which social enterprises operate almost always involve addressing some aspect of social vulnerability that will likely be associated with health. As well as completing and publishing the results of our projects, CommonHealth has produced a cadre of talented researchers across Scotland, which is much needed for this important area of social and economic activity in which Scotland leads the way.”

Expert opinions

Pauline Graham (CEO, Social Firms Scotland):

“The project has made new connections within the sector and with policy –it’s been an example of research informing policy and policy informing research.”

Prof Carol Tannahill (Director of GCPH and Chief Social Policy Advisor to Scottish Government):

“CommonHealth has helped understand how social enterprise could be an important aspect of that fifth wave thinking, to develop a public health response that is located in communities, and with potential to impact on key challenges of social isolation and loneliness, and mental health.”

Leona McDermid (Chief Executive, Aberdeen Foyer):

“Social enterprise is a unique vehicle for bringing communities, organisations and the state together.  CommonHealth has highlighted the strengths of academic input and partnerships.”

Aiden Pia (Executive Director, Senscot):

“A strength of CommonHealth has been its commitment to getting out and about and including smaller Social Enterprises; acknowledging some of the under the radar organisations and bringing to the attention of policy the grass roots work at a local level. This is especially important in the context of the current public health review and using it to provide a springboard to localism.”

speakers group.PNG

Investment in the future

The investment made in CommonHealth by our funders, MRC and ESRC, has not only ensured a range of academic outputs, but built relationships with the Scottish Government, and the social enterprise sector. We hope that our research has provided valuable evidence that the sector can draw upon in years to come. Finally, all our researchers will be carrying on their work in a new range of projects, so watch this space for what comes next.

Thank you to all those who have participated in our research over the last 5 years –we couldn’t have done it without you.

Our researchers have been beavering away on three more briefing papers for you. One from Focus 50+ -our project that studies the impact of social enterprise on the health and wellbeing of older adults- and two from our project on impact management based on collaborative research with Aberdeen Foyer.