This case study drawn from our collective experience in Northern Ireland presents a relatively unique approach that considers the role of wider contextual and organisational factors in supporting or inhibiting research into social work and social care practice. It has been written by members of the Building A Research Community Group (hereafter referred to as Research Community) established in 2019. The Research Community was built on the premise that partnership and co-production working between service delivery organisations, researchers and academia, and service users and carers is an essential underpinning to effective ‘practitioner research’, just as it is to the development of robust practitioner-relevant education and training. Using our experience over the last decade, we argue that bridging the gap between scientific evidence and practice requires leadership and the development of a supportive organisational culture that is receptive to learning and change. Highlighting both successes and challenges, along a journey spanning from 2014, we focus on the importance of developing a research strategy and realistic implementation plan accompanied by resource allocation. By sharing our journey in this case study, we hope that others across other geographical contexts can learn from our experience and are encouraged to share their own experiences.