Nine Trinity projects awarded Irish Research Council ‘New Foundations’ funding

Nine Trinity research projects have received funding from the Irish Research Council (IRC) under the ‘New Foundation’ programme announced by the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD this week.

A total of 77 New Foundations projects were announced under the funding programme which aims to bring researchers and community organisations together to collaborate on projects that will have a tangible impact on societal issues. The projects, according to the IRC, will reach communities across the country and beyond, focusing on diverse societal challenges. This week’s announcement represents a total investment of almost €990,000.

55 projects are funded by the IRC to enhance research partnerships with civic society organisations. In addition, a further 22 projects are funded by government departments and agencies addressing global development, north-south reconciliation, our shared island, and police-community relations.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD said: “I welcome the announcement of the 77 New Foundations research awards today – another record number of projects being supported by the Irish Research Council under this programme. The 55 research partnerships with community and voluntary groups will have an invaluable impact – bringing new insights and evidence and allowing these organisations to have an even bigger impact on those they are trying to reach, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society. The community and voluntary sector plays a critical role in Irish life and will continue to do so. As these projects get underway, they support enhancement of the services this sector provides, while also providing excellent partnership opportunities for our researchers.”

Trinity research projects to receive funding are:

Dr Louise Doyle, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Identifying the experiences and support needs of family members/companions who support someone presenting to the Emergency Department Following Self-Harm/Suicidal Behaviour. The Emergency Department (ED) represents an important setting for intervention around self-harm and suicide prevention in Ireland and family members/companions are an important source of support to someone in the ED. This study is a national survey of the experiences of family members/companions who accompany someone to the ED for self-harm/suicidal ideation or support them on discharge. The objectives focus on capturing their inclusion in the assessment and treatment process, the support and advice they received to help them in turn to support their loved one, and the identification of what family supports they would like to see in place. Civic Society Partner: The 3Ts Limited

Dr Bronagh Catibusic, School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences, enhanced language support for adult migrants in the post-pandemic environment. This project will investigate the impact of Covid-19 on English language support for adult migrants in Ireland, deliver training for tutors, and develop digital resources for learners. The project works in partnership with Third Age Foundation, which provides community-based English classes for migrants through its ‘Fáilte Isteach’ initiative. It involves a survey of Fáilte Isteach tutors and learners to understand their experience of online learning during the pandemic. This survey will inform workshops for tutors on digital pedagogies, resulting in the development of training materials and language learning resources. These outputs will enhance the partner organisation’s capacity to support integration. Civic Society Partner: Third Age Foundations CLG

Dr Daniela Tropea, School of Medicine, Building a Platform for International Data-sharing for Rett Syndrome. Rett Syndrome (RTT) is a neuropsychiatric disorder with no cure. Although rare, RTT is considered a model to study several brain disorders and to test candidate treatments. To foster international collaboration in RTT’s research, and to increase the visibility of Irish patients, the PI, together with the Rett Syndrome Foundation of Ireland (RSI), aims at creating a platform for data-sharing for RTT. The platform will seed the international exchange of knowledge between scientists and patients associations and will scaleup the research on RTT and related disorders, with a transformative impact on the life of patients and their families. Civic Society Partner: Rett Syndrome Association of Ireland Ltd

Dr Orla Gilheaney, School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences, The FibroForum: Creation of an expert research consortium to advance the care of those living with oral health and functioning problems associated with fibromyalgia. Invisible illnesses like fibromyalgia are common among the general public and they cause issues like pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cognitive issues. These can also cause oral problems (eg: eating and drinking issues), although these are rarely recognised, treated, or researched, making it difficult for patients to recover and live well. FibroForum is an event that will bring together patients, clinicians, and researchers to share experiences from real-life, clinical practice, and research. As a result, relationships will be formed among patients, clinicians, and researchers, and new research ideas will be generated and developed to improve future care provision. Civic Society Partner: FibroIreland (as part of Donegal Fibromyalgia Support Group Charity).

Dr Rachel Hoare, School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies, Using inclusive research practices to understand, affirm and improve the befriending experiences and integration opportunities of refugees, international protection applicants and asylum seekers. Befriending programmes are an under-researched but important resource and integration opportunity for refugees, international protection applicants and asylum seekers (hereafter refugees). A collaboration between the applicant and Spirasi, the national centre for the rehabilitation of torture survivors in Ireland, will seek to understand, affirm, and improve refugee experiences of the Spirasi befriending programme. This partnership project will involve interviews and focus groups with refugees, the co-production and exhibiting of a visual arts piece (a triptych canvas) with a community artist on ‘what befriending means to me’, a final report to be launched at a symposium, journal publications and conference presentations. Civic Society Partner: Spirasi 

Prof Michael Morris, Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices, Providing a multi-disciplinary expert network to promote and support implementation of a circular economy on the island of Ireland, AICEG (All-Island Circular Economy Group). The circular economy is an economic model focussed on the continual re-use of resources avoiding waste. It is a disruptive alternative to the ‘take-make-use-dispose’ linear model developed since the industrial revolution. This proposal will create a network of experts across academia, Government and industry to assess the research needed, the barriers to implementing circular economic practices and the impacts of change on the island of Ireland. We will build on existing links between interested parties so promoting development of strategy to implement circular practices. The network will enable sustainability goals through positive contribution to socio-economic and technological change.

Prof Oran Doyle, School of Law, North-South Legal Mapping Project. Legal systems, legal knowledge and legal networks have diverged between Ireland and Northern Ireland for a century. Lawyers in each jurisdiction know surprisingly little about the law in the other. As our common EU membership ends and as debates about future North-South and East-West relationships increase, gaps in knowledge and mutual understanding become more significant. NSLMap will comprise legal experts from North and South who will identify and analyse legal convergences and divergences between North and South. This application concerns a pilot phase focusing on seven topics, leading to sustained engagement on broader legal themes over the coming years.

Dr Pádraic Whyte, School of English, Reading Rooms: Fostering constructive & inclusive dialogue between communities. This inter-disciplinary project will investigate and advance the potential of shared reading groups to promote higher levels of empathy between communities by stimulating purposeful cross-community dialogue among Northern Ireland interface communities. Trinity College Dublin will partner with Verbal, a voluntary organisation with nearly 30 years’ experience working to improve cross-community relations in Northern Ireland. The partners will design a new framework and identify suitable literary texts for cross-community groups; conduct a pilot shared reading group; seek feedback from participants on group processes in relation to health and well-being, literary texts, and shared futures; and present findings in a report.

Dr Kristin Hadfield, School of Psychology, Building a partnership to understand and promote child refugee wellbeing in Uganda. A team of eight researchers and NGO representatives from the Global South and Global North propose to meet for 3 days in Kampala to discuss how wellbeing and mental health can best be promoted among refugee children and adolescents in Uganda. We will develop our network, build our capacity for interdisciplinary collaboration, and disseminate our learning through a peer-reviewed publication. We also aim to develop a COALESCE application which focuses on expanding the limited evidence base on psychosocial support interventions and the mental health research being conducted in Africa generally and identifying targets for wellbeing-promotion among refugee youth in Uganda.

Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown added:

 In addition to the 55 projects announced today that will collaborate with civic society partners, we are also delighted to renew our ongoing partnerships with government departments and agencies. This form of collaboration provides excellent opportunities for researchers to contribute to evidence- based policymaking, resulting in better outcomes for society and citizens in the face of many national and global challenges. In addition to the awards first announced in late 2021 funded by An Taoiseach’s Shared Island Unit, we are delighted to be announcing today the New Foundations awards made under strands funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Policing Authority, respectively.

Since 2015, over 200 community, voluntary and charity organisations have engaged across the Irish Research Council’s suite of funding programmes. A total of 362 partnerships between civic society organisations and researchers have been supported, with an associated investment in excess of €9.9 million.

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