June 26, 2023

What we fund


Scope of applications:

The William Leech Research Fund funds high quality research in the area of Christian social ethics and practical theology in the North East.  Grants are made for research that:

  • Engages with the people and churches of the region, and arises from the questions and issues that they are encountering.
  • Advances understanding of these questions/issues and responses to them, particularly through developing theological reflection on practice.
  • Seeks to create wider social impact.

The fund is keen to work with churches and community partners who share similar aims and wish to initiate and host researchers working on substantive pieces of research. Applications from researchers wishing to undertake research on topics, themes and questions that are proven priorities of churches and Christian social action projects within the region are also eligible, providing these include evidence of support from relevant churches and/or Christian social action projects.  Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Director, Andrew Orton, to discuss their ideas for applications at an early stage, and before submission of any application. A formal application can then be made by following the process detailed on the ‘How to Apply’ page.

Potential themes:

The Fund is open to proposals relating to any topic or theme of demonstrated significance to churches and Christian social action in the region.  Themes of interest for future research applications based on previous engagement include one or more of the following:

  1. Work, money, debt and poverty.
  2. Wider inequalities (within the region, and between the North East and other regions), including responses to these inequalities.
  3. Rural and urban issues, including developing communities, housing, land, regeneration, etc. and developing relationships between people within particular areas.
  4. Environment and climate change.
  5. Being church in the North East: Roles, change, growth and decline.

At our recent event in June 2023, wider topics raised as significant areas for future research included:

  • Christian/church responses to issues such as addiction, mental health, supporting refugees and asylum seekers;
  • church/Christian involvement in community organising, social enterprise, and engaging across different generations.

We therefore welcome applications on any of these topics, or other themes where applicants can demonstrate wider support.

Eligible costs:

Practically, typical funding bids may include the costs of undertaking a specific research project, addressing a defined overall question/topic.  This may include the costs of designated researcher/s working on the project, which may take various forms such as:

  • postdoctoral research costs: These are normally the costs of funding a postdoctoral research fellowship full-time for one year or equivalent part time, with remuneration equivalent to that of a university post-doctoral research position, plus an agreed contribution towards study, travel, engagement and dissemination expenses. Applicants should have suitable qualifications.  In exceptional circumstances a Post-Doctoral Fellowship may be extended, up to a maximum total of two years.
  • grants for supported leave for established scholars or clergy on sabbatical leave, covering shorter periods of up to one year, or for lay people with appropriate interests and experience.   These are designed to help cover accommodation, academic support and facilities, and study, travel, engagement and dissemination expenses. The total value of an award will be up to a maximum of £15,000. Support may be given either to those wishing to study and engage in the North East, and/or those already resident in the North East who wish to undertake relevant research elsewhere that will be disseminated on their return.
  • Other researcher and research costs may be considered that satisfy the William Leech Research Fund objectives but which do not fit directly under either of these categories.  For example, these might include: the costs for churches/Christian social action projects within the region to enable them to engage researcher/s in partnership with the William Leech Research Fund, or enable particular churches or organisations to undertake participatory research approaches with appropriate supporting expertise.