Since 2015, Social Action for Health has been a community delivery partner in East London Genes & Health – an internationally acclaimed piece of research that aims to reduce the particular health inequalities that affect South Asian populations. Queen Mary University London are the lead partner in developing this project that aims to build an accessible bio-data bank as the basis for research now and over the next decades.

Getting involved in this type of research was a big decision for us. It meant understanding and leading the way, promoting trust in this research approach – across East London and with the Pakistani and Bangladeshi community.

We asked ourselves:

  • Will our involvement leave the community stronger and more empowered to look after their own health?
  • Will this help reduce health inequalities?

The answer to both questions was YES. These are now our benchmark questions in considering if and how we become involved in community research.

The primary research objective is to  collect saliva samples for the bio databank. Our role is to do this in the community; it is also to build community knowledge and ownership of the research in order that:

  • People will trust and participate in stage 2 call back studies
  • The community will hold the research to account over the next 20-30 years so that it does result in direct benefits to the South Asian population.


We have: reached out and talked to more than 20,000 people; run more than 1,000 outreach stalls to promote this work; collected more than 8188 samples and worked in 5 boroughs (Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Newham, Redbridge and Barking).  We have also:

  • Trained and developed 108 volunteers as Helix Champions, to be: community researchers, community outreach practitioners and community influencers. This has developed employability capacity.   55 Champions have reported that this has helped them with work.
  • Enabled 13 people to secure sessional work on the programme
  • Worked with 9 schools, 16 mosques, 49 community organisations, 7 Library and 4 community businesses.