MARCH Network Plus Funds

Funding round 2 

We are delighted to announce the successful applications from our second round of MARCH Network Plus Funds.

Your input to our co-produced MARCH Network research agenda from 2019 identified the most pressing questions that research needs to answer to support our understanding of the role community assets and activities play in enhancing mental health. 


In response, four projects which answered one of two specific high-priority questions were selected for larger investment of £50K, along with three projects addressing two broader priority questions for innovation grants of £20K, two of which developed from ideas developed at MARCH Network Sandpit events.

Details of the projects are below.

Developing guidelines for involving people experiencing mental ill-health in heritage projects

Dr Karen Burnell (Solent University) Dr Paul Everill (University of Winchester), Dr Louise Baxter (Bournemouth University), partnering with Dr Linda Monckton (Historic England)


In recent years there has been a move towards social prescription of heritage interventions to support mental health and wellbeing, and in 2018 Historic England produced a framework to inform this relationship. Whilst there are benefits to participation there are also potential risks, including risk to the historic environment and particularly to archaeological remains. From a psychological perspective this may be due to the common conflation of wellbeing/ mental health, and the distinct, and diagnosable, phenomenon of mental ill-health. Our MARCH Sandpit (February 2020) brought together individuals with expertise derived from lived experience, research, service provision, and policy, to discuss the future of archaeological projects as interventions. Consensus converged on the development of guidelines to support organisations in the planning and delivery of archaeological projects, which naturally extends to heritage projects. The proposed research will utilise an online Delphi consultation with stakeholders to develop guidelines for heritage programmes for people with mental ill-health.

Developing evidence-based practice and resources for community singing leaders in mental health contexts

Dr Yoon Irons (University of Derby), Professor David Sheffield (University of Derby), Dr Michael Bonshor (University of Sheffield), Liesbeth Tip (University of Edinburgh), Lewis Hou (Science Ceilidh), Sophie Boyd (University of Glasgow), Nicola Wydenbach


This project will examine the education, training and support needs of community group singing leaders, who are working (or would like to work) with individuals with mental illness. The project will engage with singing leaders, individuals with mental illness, and relevant community organisations through consultations, surveys and an action research programme, in order to empower community singing leaders and promote the best singing group experiences and wellbeing for individuals with mental illness.

Natural Outdoor Environments and Mental Health: Developing Sustainability Indicators using a Cross-Disciplinary and Multi-Stakeholder Approach


Dr Kaye Richards (Liverpool John Moores University), Dr James Fullham (University of Exeter), Dr Alison Greenwood (Dose of Nature), Dr Linda Allin (Northumbria University), Dr Chris Loynes (University of Cumbria), Neal Anderson (Institute for Outdoor Learning), Andy Hardie (Venture Trust)

The aim of this project is to develop Sustainability Indicators for the effective and equitable use of outdoor natural environments, in the treatment of mental health problems, and the promotion of mental health. Case-studies and consultation with stakeholders will be used to elicit a contemporary and adaptable sustainability framework that can be practically applied and can be used to understand the evolving impact of COVID-19 upon these factors.  Overall, this will help better equip different sectors in utilising outdoor natural environments as a mental health asset.

Sustainability as a behaviour? Exploring the sustainability of community assets for mental health using the Behaviour Change Wheel and the Theoretical Domains Framework

Dr Marcello Bertotti (University of East London) Dr Daniel Hayes (Anna Freud Centre) Ms Anna Moore (Anna Freud Centre), Mr Paul Jarvis-Beesley (Streetgames), Ms Caroline Frostick (University of East London) and Ms Sylvia Potter  


This project aims to understand the sustainability of community assets in mental health by examining behaviours at individual, organisational and population levels. It includes, a systematic map of existing research, interviews and focus groups with a wide range of stakeholders. The project is underpinned by Theoretical Domain Framework and the Behaviour Change Wheel and seeks to influence future policy and practice in the area of young people's mental health.  

Life at a distance: a pilot study of two mutual aid services to support vulnerable individuals in coastal communities

Professor Tammi Walker, Dr Catherine O’Neill, Dr Helen Moore, Dr Claire O’Malley, Ms Hannah Poulter, Mr Rob Crow (all Teeside University)


This research will examine the impact of two coastal Mutual Aid groups established during the COVID-19 pandemic - Saltburn Community Response and East Cleveland Good Neighbours - on loneliness and mental wellbeing. A mixed method approach will be used to gather qualitative data about the lived experience of individuals participating in and utilising these groups. A longitudinal study of participants experiences of social isolation, wellbeing, social-integration, entrapment, and belonging during and beyond COVID-19 will be undertaken.

Participation in the Arts in individuals with mental ill health in South London: a population-based survey

Dr Lindsay Smith (Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London), Troy Tranah, Johnny Downs and Professor Tony Charman (Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London) in partnership with NatCen Research, Brixtonhouse and Louise Vale (PPI representative).


The study will invite individuals across South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation trust mental health services, who have given their consent to contact (C4C), via the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre's C4C scheme, to complete a short online survey about their engagement in the arts and the impact on their wellbeing. Telephone interviews will also be completed in a pilot study to explore reflections on the effect of participation in specific activities on the enhancement of wellbeing and prevention of relapse for different mental health conditions. 

Digital Community Assets and Mental Health: Investigating the impact of digital platforms on the support provided by creative communities

Professor Ian Tucker (University of East London), Dr Sarah Markham (King’s College, London), Dr Kat Easton (University of Sheffield) Dr Victoria Betton (Mindwave Ventures), Jacob Diggle (Mind), Eve Munday (Mental Fight Club), Marcy Palejova (ESRA Lab) Paul Radin (Service User Research Consultant), Chris Rolls (64 Million Artists)

The aim of this project is to identify the impacts of digital platform use by community assets on experiences of mental ill-health before, during and after COVID-19 lockdown. Working in collaboration with three creative and peer support communities (64 Million Artists, Mental Fight Club, Mind’s Side by Side Online Community), the project will investigate whether digital platforms enhance face-to-face support, whether online-only communities provide similar support levels than face-to-face communities, and whether the impacts on mental ill-health differ by type of digital platform use. 


MARCH Network Funding Round 1 - Sandpit Funds

Our first round of funding (awarded autumn 2019) was for sandpit events to support teams in coming together and developing research proposals on social, cultural and community assets and mental health. Eight projects received funding, covering a range of community activities, from institutions around the country:

Engagement and Evaluation in Social Prescribing for Mental Health:  how do we know we’re helping, and helping the right people?

Wednesdsay 19 February 2020, Liverpool City Centre

This event will bring together researchers, healthcare professionals, providers, commissioners, funders and beneficiaries to identify priorities and proposals for both research and practice in social prescribing, and look at developing the evidence base on the effectiveness of social prescribing, and how to connect community programmes with those who need it most. 


Investigators: Caroline Brett, Hannah Timpson, Tara Kidd (Liverpool John Moores University), Simon Abrams (Lead, Great Homer Street Surgery, Liverpool)

Funding: £2,381

The role of social prescribing in addressing the mental well-being of people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment

Monday 24 February  2020, Oxford

This event will bring together individuals with mild cognitive impairment and their relatives, professional involved in their care, social prescribing providers, along with commissioners and researchers to develop research focused on social prescribing for those with mild cognitive impairment, to help them improve and maintain their mental health. 


Investigators: Stephanie Tierney, Vanessa Raymont, Lucy Shaw, Amadea Turk, Shona Forster (University of Oxford)

Funding: £2,400

Digital Community Assets and Mental Health

Friday 6 March 2020

University of East London

This sandpit will bring together key stakeholders (including representatives from the third sector, the NHS, researchers and those with lived experience) to develop research proposals to investigate the role of digital platforms to promote and enhance engagement with community assets, and identify research priorities regarding how digital platforms are used and viewed in relation to community assets. 


Investigator: Ian Tucker (University of East London)

Funding: £2,204

singing and mental health 

Wednesday 8 January 2020, Snape Maltings 

This sandpit event will bring together researchers, practitioners and policy makers who are interested considering singing as a community asset in relation to mental health to develop new research and practice proposals.


Investigators: Dave Camlin (Royal College of Music), Phillipa Reive (Snape Maltings), Katherine Zeserson, (Harmony Associates)

Funding: £2,400

Perspectives on frontline arts participation for those with mental health needs

Wednesday 11 March 2020, IoPPN, King's College London

This sandpit event will aim to generate a discussion between those involved in theatre and the participatory arts and individuals with lived experience of mental health issues, about strategies to encourage community engagement with local theatres and arts organisations, whether as artists, volunteers or audience members.


Investigators: Lindsay Smith, Troy Tranah (IoPPN, King’s College London), Vikki Moorhouse (Imagining Futures)

Funding: £1,640

An exploration of how assets influence decision making and outcomes of Mental Health Tribunals/Managers’ hearings (AID-Mental Health)

Friday 31 January 2020

Middle Street Resource Centre, Beeston

This sandpit event for statutory and non-statutory organisations will explore how community assets are understood by members of Mental Health Tribunals, service users and carers, and how personalised community base interventions can support discharge and prevent re-admissions.


Investigators: Di Bailey, Verusca Calabria (Nottingham Trent University), Ada Hui (University of Nottingham)

Funding: £2,262

Nature Connectedness

Tuesday 25 February 2020, Enterprise Centre, Derby

This sandpit event for organisations with an interest in the natural environment and health and wellbeing will bring a range of stakeholders together to discuss the delivery and research of interventions designed to increase nature connectedness across a range of local and community greenspace contexts.


Investigators: Miles Richardson, Holli-Anne Passmore (University of Derby)

Funding: £1,600

Archeology and Veteran Mental Health & Wellbeing

Thursday 27 February 2020, Solent University, Southampton

This sandpit event will bring together a variety of stakeholders in the area of heritage and wellbeing, including veterans with mental health needs, to discuss emerging research on veteran-focused archaeology and the impact of these projects on participants.


Investigators: Karen Burnell (Solent University), Paul Everill (University of Winchester)

Funding: £2,400