The Centre for Volunteering and Community Leadership works alongside COMENSUS.

Comensus involves service users, carers and the wider community in scholarly activities across a number of Schools at the University of Central Lancashire. Comensus has been developed to embed service user and carer voices within health and social care practice. We provide a central hub for co-ordination and facilitation of user and carer involvement.

Community Members

We support students to be the best practitioners, researchers and educators they can be, and our aim is to provide a new dimension to the student experience at UCLan. Our volunteers are supported by the Comensus co-ordinator, Lisa Malihi-Shoja; Service User and Carer Involvement Facilitators, Chris Essen and Janet Garner, Project Support Officer Steven Seymour and volunteer peer mentors, Ernie Mallen, Peter Sullivan and Angela Melling.

Comensus members are a community of individuals from diverse backgrounds with a wide variety of health and social care experiences. The Community Involvement team is our core group which meets monthly to plan project development, strategic involvement and over view all of our activity.

Community Engagement

Comensus get involved in many local community events throughout the year, including the Health Mela, the Open Mind festival and the annual Disability and Carer’s Rights festival at Preston Minster. We also attend Open days at the University and community days in Preston and surrounding areas.

We were honoured to have Sir Tom Finney as our patron from 2006 and were very sad to hear of his passing in February 2014. Comensus held a celebration event back in 2006 at which they welcomed Sir Tom and introduced him to members of the group.

Comensus Engagement Group

The Comensus Group was set up to inform the project in 2004. It has now evolved into an Engagement group made up of academic staff members with an interest in user involvement; representatives of third sector community groups from Lancashire, representatives from Lancashire Care Foundation Trust, Preston City Council and service user/carer representatives from Comensus. Meetings are held quarterly and community partners often give presentations about their work with service users and carers. The groups also discusses opportunities to promote user involvement in teaching and make valuable links between the different stakeholders members. The back bone of this group are our service user and carer community members.

Please contact Chris Essen if you are interested in attending one our Engagement group meetings at


Provide academics with information and resources,

Help match up service users and carers to academic and community requests for involvement via the CIT,

Provides a database of service user and carer involvement,

Support innovation and best practice and raise the profile of the University,

Includes the community in their work,

Support and guide individual academics who wish to develop service user/carers involvement,

Publicise and celebrate your user/carer involvement,

Contribute to validation of modules and courses,


COMENSUS are available for reviewing and developing course materials
interviewing students and staff carrying out and developing research making strategic decisions service user and carer involvement in teaching.

Support and Training

We offer a range of opportunities at Comensus including:

  • Induction training
  • Equality and Diversity training
  • Fire Safety Training
  • Giving feedback to students training
  • Telling your story
  • Attending/ chairing meetings training
  • Support and supervision
  • Summer and Christmas social events
  • Team activities