AN innovative six-month project which aims to improve the lives of people living with neurological conditions has been launched.

The Community Research and Engagement Project, known as COURAGE, will be focusing on supporting people affected by and living with multiple sclerosis or brain injuries.

It will see Essex University and Healthwatch Essex work together.

To launch the project a workshop took place at the university bringing together more than 50 researchers, academics, practitioners, support workers and those living with brain conditions.

Dr Andrew Bateman, project leader from the university’s School of Health and Social Care, said: “Building a research programme to tackle the challenges of people living with a neurological condition is a great opportunity which can potentially involve many academics at Essex.

“The voices of people affected by these conditions are often not heard.

“At the launch event, I heard how frustrating this is for people from the charities that are there to help, but not listened to.

“I am really looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together to raise awareness, devise studies and create innovative solutions.”

Dr David Sollis, director of Healthwatch Essex, said through the Essex Neurology Network they have been promoting the understanding of neurological conditions by promoting people’s voices living with the conditions.

He added: “We are excited to work in partnership with the university to develop this platform and co-design the COURAGE Network’s research and engagement strategy.”

The new partnership’s project is one of 53 innovative projects across the country to be funded by the government as part of the UK Research and Innovation’s new vision for public engagement.

Nationally the projects worth £1.4m, will enable members of the public to contribute actively to research.

Tom Saunders, head of public engagement at UK Research and Innovation, said: “In 2020 and beyond, we will build on the lessons we learn through funding these pilot projects to help us achieve our ambition of making research and innovation responsive to the knowledge, priorities and values of society and open to participation by people from all backgrounds.”