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Following a rigorous assessment process, Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron has been awarded a Bronze Engage Watermark by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE). This is a significant achievement, demonstrating a clear commitment to enhance and develop institutional support for public engagement. The NCCPE stated that the review demonstrated that public engagement was integral to Diamond and it has been a priority since its inception. They also highlighted that Diamond’s senior leaders participate in engagement events and activities, making their support visible.
The award was announced live at the NCCPE Engage Conference 2021 and presented by special guest host Dr Karen Salt, Deputy Director for R&D Culture and Environment for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
Isabelle Boscaro-Clarke, Diamond’s Head of Communications and Engagement comments;
We are really proud to have won this award. It is a wonderful recognition of the past 19 years as we have embedded engagement with the public at the heart of the facility. The award is credit to the time and energy given by our staff and contractors from open days, school visits and the Diamond academy which welcomes school students for work experience to supporting our staff and users in their own local engagement activities. In fact in non-Covid times, we have the same footfall as a National Trust House, so this is a real pat on the back for everyone that has been involved. We see this as the first step and are looking forward to cementing the recommendations so that we can grow these programmes further.
The Engage Watermark is led by the NCCPE, internationally recognised experts in public engagement, funded by UKRI, Wellcome, and others to support and inspire the higher education sector to engage with the public. The idea of the award is twofold, it is partly to recognise an organisations commitment to public engagement and also a way of getting expert guidance for the development of future plans. How universities and institutions engage with the public is recognised by the NCCPE Engage Watermark - a charter mark awarded to for excellence in support and practice of public engagement across all aspects of their work.
Paul Manners, Co-Director of the NCCPE said:
We are delighted to be able to award Diamond Light Source a Bronze Watermark award. There are dedicated Public Engagement staff who do excellent work to support public engagement and many of the facility’s staff, students and users participate in large events to share their work with the public. Many staff and students spoke about the skills they gained from engagement and the enjoyment it brought them. Partners appreciate the input Diamond provides through the funding of their PE events and the time they make available for participation. Diamond have a clear action plan for the future, consolidating the great work they are already doing, and seeking to enhance support for public engagement for staff, students and facility users.
The process took the form of; an extensive initial application form, a staff/partner/user survey and some in depth interviews with our staff, users, partners and students. The NCCPE then compiled quite a large report of around 150 pages which was jointly reviewed with to create an action plan which was approved by Diamond’s management and submitted to the NCCPE.
David Price, Public Engagement Manager at Diamond adds;
We can be very proud of the work we carry out at Diamond and the Bronze award is very much a recognition of both our investment and commitment to PE and to its continuing development. It has also been a very useful process and the action plan will help with future plans and improvement. It was noted several times that the NCCPE were impressed by the quality of the engagement we were doing and the attitude of our staff. The recommended future development was around systems and structure, for example getting an advisory panel in place and developing reward/recognition.
Sophie Duncan, Co-Director of the NCCPE concludes:
Since the early days of the NCCPE we have been championing a culture in higher education where public engagement can thrive. Never has this work been more important or urgent to address. The Engage Watermark offers a benchmarking opportunity for institutions to evidence their commitment and achievements – and we applaud the commitment of institutions who embark on this process with us and use the results to focus their future plans and ambitions to engage better with the public.
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