Research Capability Funding (RCF) is provided to the Trust by the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) to support research active NHS organisations (such as us) to increase research within our services. 

A call for Research Capability Funding applications is commonly once a year, around the February to March period.

Research Capability Funding supports NHS staff, service users and/or carers to work in partnership with researchers to carry out high quality research. We prioritise applications that have identified inequalities for the people or groups the study aims to recruit, with aims to reduce or prevent the inequalities identified for those groups.

In AWP, we prioritise RCF for;

  • Applications that have strong service user, carer and AWP clinician leadership or involvement
  • Applications with a proven track record of submitting NIHR grant applications
  • Applications from those wishing to develop ideas and grants with a wish to submit to NIHR grant funding calls

The main purpose of RCF is to:

  • Help research-active NHS organisations to act flexibly and strategically to maintain research capacity and capability
  • Support the appointment, development and retention of key staff undertaking or supporting people and patient-based research

RCF may be used to support:

  • Salary costs of staff to develop grant proposals and applications to NIHR sources; this could, for example, include setting up short-term fellowships to allow clinicians to use supporting professional activities (SPAs) time to work on research proposals
  • The time of staff in contributing to the wider research endeavour (e.g. membership of peer review panels)

RCF cannot fund:

  • Research that has received funding from an ongoing NIHR grant (or other funding body)
  • Other ineligible costs include costs already supported in others ways by NIHR or others, as a research cost, a service support cost, or a treatment cost; and insurance or indemnity costs
  • MBAs, PhD or MSc studentships or training
  • RCF may only be used to support costs not met from other sources

For more detailed information, guidance or Frequently Asked Questions about the RCF, please visit the NIHR website:

If you have questions about applying for RCF in 2025/26, please contact the AWP Research and Development department at

We strongly encourage clinicians, service users and carers to submit applications.

We aim to make a difference to the people we serve by delivering high quality and ethically approved research. We look forward to receiving your applications.

Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

We expect RCF applicants to consider how people with lived experience will input into the development of research ideas through Patient and Public Involvement (PPI). 

RCF applicants should also have a plan for how their PPI activities and wider research will consider Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). These considerations include how the proposed research will address health inequalities for under-served populations within the research.    

If you have further questions about PPI or EDI, including how these factor into an RCF application, please contact David Woodley (Research and Development Project Officer) at

We actively promote the importance of EDI to researchers in every study, not just those that directly focus on the reduction of health inequalities. 

Read more about EDI in RCF:

What are we funding?


Understanding patient experiences of detention under the Mental Health Act 1983 is crucial to informing the implementation of law, policy and practice. However, limited literature surrounds the use of the Mental Health Act 1983 for patients with dementia who are detained in hospital, or how such detention is experienced by patients and their families.

Dementia advocacy groups have highlighted that the views of people living with dementia are often neglected in research, due to beliefs that they are inherently vulnerable, or incapable of providing cogent views. To improve the experience of detention for people living with dementia, there is an urgent need to examine what factors inform the use of the Mental Health Act 1983 and the extent to which the specific needs of people living with dementia are taken into account.

RCF Aims and Grant Information

This RCF funding will be used to undertake a scoping study for the groundwork required to produce a bid to the NIHR Research for Social Care call to conduct a larger scale project. The bid will be informed by consultation with experts by experience and professionals and will focus on practice within AWP and one other mental health trust in England.

The project will include four stages:

Stage 1: Scoping review of studies focusing on decisions associated with the detention of people living with dementia in health and social care settings to identify research questions and summarise and report the results of current literature.

The anticipated research questions will explore:

  • What processes are put in place to protect the legal rights of people living with dementia who are detained in health and social care settings?
  • Who is involved in the decision-making process?
  • How are the views of the person with dementia taken into consideration (or not)?
  • To what extent are the views of family members considered throughout the detention process?
  • What other factors impact on professional decision-making in this context?

Stage 2: Meet with Approved Mental Health Professional Leads to identify what information is routinely collected by the Local Authority about people who are detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 and how this is stored to gain appropriate access. 

Stage 3: Pilot separate online focus groups of the following groups: care coordinators, Approved Mental Health Professionals, doctors involved in Mental Health Act assessments, nursing staff involved with the patient on admission and family carers who have been formally involved with the Mental Health Act assessment. We will ask these groups their opinions of how best to interview people living with dementia about their experiences of the Mental Health Act 1983. 

Stage 4: Pilot interviews will be conducted with people living with dementia about their experiences of being detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 and recruited via Innovations in Dementia. 


There will be two advisory groups of:

  1. People living with dementia
  2. Professionals and carers

 The advisory groups will be asked to comment on the research design for the scoping review and pilot research and on relevant documentation such as information sheets for participants. Both groups will prepare a short presentation for the presentation of findings event, give a short presentation to professionals and participate in the panel discussion.



Autistic adolescents have an increased risk of poor health outcomes. They are 16 times more likely to meet diagnostic criteria for a mental health condition compared to their non-autistic peers. Longer and more intensive support is needed due to complex mental health presentations. Yet, there is reduced availability of evidence-based interventions for this population. Autistic people are at higher risk of experiencing thoughts of suicide, and this risk is perpetuated by long waiting lists for child and adolescent mental health services, which provide interventions only after mental health problems have become significant, enduring and harder to treat.

Adolescence represents a moment of opportunity to intervene before mental health problems develop. New interventions are needed to reduce distress and improve psychological well-being in autistic adolescents and ultimately reduce demand on over-subscribed mental health services.

RCF Aims and Grant Information  

Phase 1: Intervention Planning

This phase will comprise a systematic literature review and meta-synthesis of evidence regarding factors contributing to psychological well-being in autistic adolescents. This will be used as a basis for the person-based approach to intervention development in the second part of the project

PPI work will help develop the research questions, and develop an accessible summary of the findings.

Phase 2: Intervention Development

The findings from the systematic review will be used to identify evidence-based intervention aims and objectives, and preliminary guiding principles for the intervention. The intervention must appeal and be accessible to autistic adolescents. PPI meetings will then be conducted to share the findings from the systematic review and to confirm the key aims, objectives, and intervention guiding principles.

An intervention planning table will be co-designed with the PPI group. The aim will be to identify barriers and facilitators to the intervention targets and to identify potential mechanisms of the new intervention and a model for how this intervention will lead to improved psychological well-being.

Finally, PPI work will identify the best way to accessibly present the intervention principles, targets, and mechanisms. An autistic graphic designer will then produce accessible summaries of the key intervention principles.


This proposal is founded on PPI work completed with autistic people, and through a partnership with national charity Ambitious about Autism (AaA). The number one research question identified by autistic people in the UK is 'which interventions improve mental health or reduce mental health problems in autistic people?' (James Lind Priority Setting Partnership, 2016). Moreover, a co-production project at AaA demonstrated the desire for co-produced interventions focused on improving wellbeing by developing a positive sense of autism identity in autistic adolescents.

Timeline for RCF

Phase 1: Intervention Planning

Intervention for autistic adolescents Timeline 1.png

Phase 2: Intervention Development




There is a well-established link between urban living and a raised risk of non-affective psychosis (psychotic conditions without a significant mood component) in some countries, including the UK. This is known as 'the urbanicity effect'. A lot of research in this area focuses on statistics involving large amounts of data. Less work has been done with people that have direct experience of psychosis.   

Recent studies have started to explore the impact of urban living on psychosis recovery. If we are able to better understand this effect, we can design better interventions to help people in those settings and improve treatment outcomes. We would like to explore the service user perspective of this area of research.   

RCF Aims and Grant Information   

To explore how urban neighbourhoods can be used to support early psychosis recovery. 

We hope that our project will inform the development of an outline intervention or toolkit to be later tested in clinical practice. 

PPI and EDI   

We will use a range of research methods to ask individuals in the early stages of psychosis recovery about their experience of living in an urban neighbourhood. Some of these methods, such as interviews and surveys, are well-used in health research. We will also use methods more commonly used in other subject areas, such as ‘participatory mapping’ and neighbourhood walks. 

Co-production with service users and carers has been central to this project from the start. A Service User Research Group has worked alongside the Project Lead at every occasion.  


We welcome you to find out more about this group, including regular updates, by clicking the button below: