Can we continue this exchange of ideas here so that people who are thinking of going to the St Helens Research Information Day can see it too? (The conversation started at: http://forum.parkinsons.org.uk/pdsforum/posts.aspx?forum=research&topic=research-information-day---stockton
I am delighted by your reply and to know that the Research Team wants to encourage volunteers and research supporters to make their contributions through groups of 'research enthusiasts' as well as through the more established 'opportunities'.
You may well have guessed that I am keen on this idea because I am involved in the RSN group in the East Midlands where this has worked rather well. (There are lot of things we have tried that have not worked so well, but let's concentrate on the positive!) We have been fortunate in having more than half a dozen energetic, talented, self-starting individuals who have gelled to make a creative and dynamic team to promote research in this region. (We also have an incredibly facilitating and hard working Regional Manager amongst our number. We think of ourselves as colleagues working for the same purpose with her contribution going well beyond the necessary but invaluable links to the professional side of the charity.) But I refuse to believe that similar sets of capable and imaginative members cannot be found in other regions!
Since you endorse the encouragement of regional groups as one of several ways of promoting research-focussed activity, may I suggest that you add a few words to the announcement above to state this explicitly? There could be a number of members in the region who would welcome being put in touch with others of a like mind with whom they could begin to collaborate. This would then need to be coupled with a deliberate exercise during the Research Information Day to enable those present who were interested in taking things further to share their contact details and decide on the next steps. That's how we got things going in the East Midlands. (Maybe individuals interested in getting something going along these lines could post a message of support here or contact you direct, especially if they are prevented from to attend the event itself.)
My feeling is that there is a large pool of enthusiasm amongst the members out there who could help our committed but thinly stretched staff to expand the creative possibilities for action.