About our Advisory Groups

How we advertise our involvement opportunities

We advertise our involvement opportunities in a number of ways.

We put all our current opportunities on the McPin website. You can find our current adult opportunities here and opportunities aimed at young people (aged 13-25) here. Sometimes we also promote opportunities on behalf of other organisations. 

We additionally advertise our opportunities in:

To get involved in McPin-supported research please do consider signing up to stay in touch with our current opportunities.

Responding to an involvement opportunity

We always provide information about the opportunity. We also offer accessible alternative ways to apply for opportunities. Sometimes there is an application form; in other cases, you can apply by email, send us a video or audio summary, or phone us.  

Every McPin involvement opportunity will have a named McPin member of staff for you to contact if needed. 

If you have any problems at all responding to an opportunity, or would like help in applying, please contact the named McPin member of staff by email or phone.

We try to give people as much time as possible to apply for new opportunities but sometimes opportunities come up at short notice and we have less time than we would have liked.

We try to advertise involvement opportunities for a minimum of one week, but usually try to allow for two weeks or more.

We offer payment for involvement work. The amount will be stated in the advertisement of the opportunity.   

Selecting members of our groups

We do not have a set procedure for selecting members of our groups.

We have to select according to the needs of the research opportunity.

This may mean that we need people with a certain kind of lived experience. For example, if we were supporting a study about antidepressant medications, we would need people with experience of this.

Sometimes we need people with recent experience of the topic in question, or people with experience of using certain kinds of health services.

We are particularly keen to give opportunities to people who have not been  involved in research before.

For this reason, we sometimes prioritise people who have not worked with us over people who have. This is to ensure that we offer opportunities to a wide variety of people. We generally reserve a number of places for people who have not had the opportunity to be involved in research before.

We try our best to make sure that groups are diverse and include people from seldom-heard communities.

Some groups of people are generally underrepresented in research involvement.  This includes people without a university education, and people from ethnic minorities, particularly people who identify as Black. We have also found that young men are often underrepresented, as well as people from the LGBTQ+ community. There is some published information about underrepresented groups in the following paper published in 2014. We therefore particularly welcome applications from underrepresented communities.

When selecting members for groups we will have a preference for people from underrepresented communities as well as those who have not worked with us before.  

We acknowledge that our staff will have their own biases and experiences that may affect our work. However, we try very hard to be reflective and fair. There is always a minimum of two people reviewing every application.

We do not select people according to their academic experience or ability.

We do not select people according to their qualifications or their work experience. We prioritise people’s lived experience, enthusiasm, skills, and potential. 

We acknowledge that advisory group members don’t just bring lived experience, they have other skills to contribute to a study.

We will do our very best to ensure that everyone, no matter their background or needs are fully supported.

Please do not be put off from applying for an opportunity with us. If you have any kind of need or accessibility requirement, we encourage you to contact the named McPin member of staff.

Whenever we set up a new advisory group we arrange a chat with members individually to help identify what support you might find helpful. Read about how we specifically support young people here.

Being a member of one of our groups

We have written a booklet entitled ‘Information for Members of Research Advisory Groups Supported by the McPin Foundation’.

This booklet should answer most of the common questions that members of our groups have.

You can download the booklet here.

This booklet is intended for use by our advisory group members. It explains how meetings are run, about our ground rules for meetings, how to claim payment, and so on. Each of our groups has a named McPin member of staff who can also be contacted in case there are any questions.

Although being an advisory group member involves a level of disclosure about having a relevant lived experience, we recognise that people choose what details they share and encourage disclosure in safe and comfortable ways for that individual. For more information about what to expect in an online meeting of our Young People’s Involvement Network, take a look at our ‘What to expect at a young people’s network meeting’ document. 

Payment for meetings and expenses

We offer a payment for attendance at meetings, and most tasks that are carried out in-between meetings. We pay all reasonable travel expenses in line with our general McPin Foundation expenses policy.   

The procedure for claiming payment and expenses is set out in the booklet for advisory group members. We will make payment within 30 days of receiving an invoice or claim form.

Employment Status

It is important to note that members of our advisory groups are not employees of the McPin foundation.

Work is carried out as and when needed. You are free to not come to meetings or carry out work if you are ill or for another reason. You are not obliged to send anyone on your behalf if you can’t come to a meeting.  

We see this work as being carried out on a self-employment basis. This means that the McPin Foundation is not your employer, and that you may need to pay income tax on the income that you may receive from your work.

You can find out more about this on the government’s Money Helper website

The McPin Foundation is unable to give specific advice to advisory group members about taxation issues. This is because there are rules about who can give people financial advice and who cannot.  

If you need any help the Citizens Advice Bureau recommends contacting TaxAid.   

Welfare benefits and involvement work

There are strict rules from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) about how much income you can receive if you are on welfare benefits.

The rules can be quite complicated. Some people can apply for something called Permitted Work which makes it easier to receive payments without their benefits being affected. However, this is not possible for some benefits, including Universal Credit. 

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has put together some very useful information about these rules, which can be accessed on the NIHR website.

This NIHR guidance was last updated in July 2022, as of August 2022. 

If you are going to be involved in a NIHR-funded study you will also be able to access a free and confidential Benefits Advice Service provided by the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Otherwise please contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

We would urge you to take advice if you are at all uncertain before claiming any payment for involvement work.

Please also talk to a McPin member of staff if you have any questions or concerns.

Please note that alternatives such as shopping vouchers are seen in the same way as cash by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).