2020 Public Engagement Small Grants Scheme awardees announced

2020 Public Engagement Small Grants Scheme awardees announced
Let the pictures talk: changing the narrative on child health in Ethiopia – a photovoice project exploring positive aspects of child health in Kersa district, Eastern Hararghe, Ethiopia. Funding awarded in 2019 to Caroline Ackley, Lola Madrid Castillo (EPH) and Yenenesh Tilahun (Hararghe Health Research, Ethiopia) .

The Public Engagement team is delighted to announce the awardees in the latest round of the Public Engagement Small Grants Scheme.

The Scheme provides funding for staff and doctoral students from any LSHTM Faculty or MRC Unit to develop and deliver public engagement projects about our research. Small-scale or pilot projects are invited to apply for the Small Grants Scheme, which provides funding of up to £1,000; and a Continued Development Grant of £3,000-£5,000 is available for a project which builds on previous engagement activities, learning and/or public engagement experience.

The 7 successful projects will be engaging public audiences in The Gambia, Botswana, Serbia, Lebanon, the UK and online. Read more about these exciting projects below.

Continued Development Grant

Climate change = time to change – MRCG science festival 

Ana Bonell, Department of Clinical Research, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases / MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM, Pauline Scheelbeek, Department of Population Health, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, Kris Murray and Zakari Ali, MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM

Human caused environmental change needs urgent action to reduce the multitude of adverse effects. We will focus on the youth as future leaders and strong drivers for change. Therefore, we will run an environmental impact, adaptation and mitigation science fair in MRC-Gambia, entitled Climate change = time to change. This will be a highly interactive, fun, science-filled fair, to engage youth (ages 13-16), scientists, climate action groups and policymakers. There will be 30 stalls demonstrating either climate change consequences and/or adaptation/mitigation solutions. 10 stalls will be for schools, 10 for scientists and 10 for climate action groups/NGO/conservation groups. We will invite 400 children from local schools, scientists, collaborators, climate change groups and policy makers to attend. We will develop a learning-and-action pack – a practical guide to enable replication of the stalls and a technical summary detailing proposed adaptation and mitigation methods to present to policy makers in The Gambia.

Support TB care Gambia: Engaging lay members in the community as TB treatment supporters in the Greater Banjul Area of The Gambia

Olumuyiwa Owolabi, Vaccines and Immunity Theme, MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM

Support TB care is a three-day interactive mutual learning public engagement workshop between landlords and TB experts in the Greater Banjul Area (GBA) of The Gambia. Early diagnosis and initiation of treatment, with full adherence to treatment, is essential to control TB globally. This project is designed to collaborate with landlords, who will act as a link between the communities where TB patients reside and the Leprosy and TB Inspectors at the government health facilities in the GBA.

Effective referral of TB patients from the community to public health facilities designated for TB care, coupled with treatment support from significant and respected members of their respective communities, is urgently needed in TB endemic regions working towards achieving TB elimination in 2035. The outcomes of the workshops will be shared with other significant members of the community to foster involvement as stakeholders in TB control. 

Crying for heLPs: how overcoming my fear of the death needle helped to save my life

Nabila Youssouf, Joseph Jarvis and Mosepele Mosepele, LSHTM/Botswana Harvard HIV Partnership

In November 2019, we delivered a successful workshop aiming to demystify the lumbar puncture (LP) procedure. LPs are the cheapest method of relieving symptoms of neurological infections and the most effective way of diagnosing meningitis in resource-limited settings; however, its negative reputation remains a great barrier to implementation with many patients and their families refusing treatment. We sought to understand how LPs acquired this reputation and to provide attendees with impartial knowledge on LP risks and benefits through engagement with community members, presenting videos of the procedure, conducting a laboratory tour and lastly, hearing a graphic yet compelling testimony from a patient representative who received a LP. 
The new project is a theatrical play, based on the testimony of the aforementioned patient representative who is now a passionate LP advocate: his story is the inspiration behind this work, starting with its title, ‘Crying for help’ as he was in intense pain and delirium, crying for help to relieve his headache. As Botswana retains a visual, story-telling culture, a theatrical play should appeal to a wide audience. This project could have wide and long-lasting impact, educating a range of members of society and empowering them with health-seeking behaviours.

Small Grants Scheme

Elevating the voices of expectant parents during the COVID-19 pandemic

Elizabeth Brickley, Tanaka Nyoni, Amber Raja, Leila Mendonca, Nuria Sanchez Clemente, Enny Cruz, Julia Pescarini and Niamh Murphy, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health

The COVID-19 pandemic presents new challenges and concerns for maternal-child health. This project aims to use digital storytelling to elevate the voices of expectant parents and to promote an inclusive and respectful conversation around the impact of the pandemic on pregnancy, childbirth, and new parenthood. Using social media platforms and a website, we plan to create a virtual community to engage with expectant mothers, fathers and other carers to-be and provide a space for them to share their experiences. Using this virtual platform, we will also provide a hub for reliable pregnancy-related resources during this pandemic.

Mal de Chagas Londrespis kan (Chagas disease is in London too): A co-produced workshop featuring discussion and dance with the Bolivian community in London

Natalie Elkheir and David Moore, Department of Clinical Research, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases

Chagas disease, a potentially fatal but treatable parasitic infection, is under-diagnosed in the UK. Bolivian migrants in London are particularly at risk but have poor access to formal healthcare. This project brings together LSHTM researchers and the Bolivian community, to share ideas and traditional Bolivian dance performances, in a co-produced world café-style workshop. 

Community members will rotate around facilitated group discussion tables, each focussed on a different theme identified as important to the community (e.g. access to testing, stigma). Building on the popularity and power of traditional Bolivian dance to tell stories, the workshop will be punctuated with dance performances telling the story of a patient journey. Community members and researchers will work together to understand the barriers to diagnosis and shape future research perspectives to find ways to bring testing into the community. Key learning points will be captured alongside the colourful dance performances in a short video.  

Birth on the Borderlands: Refugee women’s artistic depictions of pregnancy, birth and early motherhood on Europe’s peripheries

Esther Sharma, Department of Global Health and Development, Faculty of Public Health and Policy

Large numbers of forced migrants transit through Serbia en route to the European Union. During this time, many women are pregnant or give birth but there has been no research exploring the experiences of these women or how they interact with maternity services in Serbia. This project aims to provide a platform for forced migrant women’s perinatal experiences in Serbia to be heard, through the creation of webcomics. These will be shared virtually with Serbian women’s groups as well as health professionals, to create a dialogue and increase cultural understanding among the host country of migrant women’s experiences of pregnancy and birth.

‘Being a Mum and Me’: Using reflective artwork to share experiences of motherhood and adolescence with Syrian refugee adolescent women attending an antenatal care centre in Beirut, Lebanon

Kerrie Stevenson and Daniela Fuhr, Department of Health Services Research and Policy, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, and Oona Campbell, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health 

The Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) antenatal care centre in Beirut provides care to 500 adolescent Syrian refugee girls every year. These young women face a number of challenges during pregnancy owing to their refugee status and age. Through a reflective art workshop we aim to engage 30 pregnant adolescent girls who attend the MSF clinic and MSF/LSHTM staff in exploring their views of motherhood and suggestions for how to improve the support on offer. Participants will create posters representing their reflections during the workshop. These will be displayed in an exhibition in the clinic waiting room for all antenatal patients to view. An exhibition launch event will welcome local NGOs and adolescent women to engage in more informal dialogue whilst viewing the posters, in the hope of highlighting the challenges facing these young women and the support on offer via the MSF centre.

COVID-19 Public Engagement Grant

In addition, this year the Public Engagement team made small grants available for public engagement activities looking to engage with the public on a topic linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read about the projects that have been funded so far.

Health yathu ndiye vintu: more than sexual and reproductive health

Mwelwa Phiri and Bernadette Hensen, Department of Clinical Research, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, and Musonda Simwinga, Zambart, Zambia

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the globe at an alarming rate. However, in Africa, misconceptions and myths about how to prevent transmission have spread at an alarming rate too. Myths such as young people cannot get the virus thrive. With this project, we aim to inform young people with accurate information on how to prevent transmission of COVID-19 by engaging adolescents and young people (AYP) through social media. Using a social media platform that already exists to provide sexual and reproductive health information as part of the Yathu Yathu Study, we aim to actively involve AYP in the prevention of COVID-19, by changing behaviours and challenging myths with truths. Yathu Yathu (“for us by us”), is a cluster-randomised trial, that aims to address the research question: Do community-based peer-led interventions increase knowledge of HIV status and coverage of sexual and reproductive health services among AYP in Lusaka, Zambia compared to the current standard of care?

You can view the project videos on the Yathu Yathu YouTube Channel

Kodhi Kodhi, naani a li eyo? (“knock knock, who’s there?” In lusoga) Your Community Health Workers spreading good hygiene behaviour to fight COVID-19 / the Kodhi Kodhi Project

Giorgia Dalla Libera Marchiori, Department of Disease Control, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases and Emily Nightingale, Department of Global Health and Development, Faculty of Public Health and Policy

COVID-19 is not just about COVID-19. In fact, COVID-19 has an impact that goes beyond the disease it causes, jeopardising access to fundamental health services, with a long-term impact especially for the most vulnerable populations. For instance, pregnant women do not stop giving birth, so it is essential to continue to provide maternal services like the ones provided by Community Health Workers (CHWs) running the Mama & Family Project in six rural villages in Uganda. However, during this pandemic CHWs could also play a very central role in reducing the spread of the virus. Therefore, the Kodhi Kodhi Project will not only provide the necessary tools for the CHWs to continue working safely but will empower them to engage their entire communities in maintaining hygiene behaviours, such as hand washing. CHWs are trusted and well known for their health promotion activities, therefore their voices could trigger a long-lasting behavioural change that will have a positive outcome beyond COVID-19.

Virtual café discussion: vaccinating your child during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Sadie Bell, Department of Global Health and Development, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, and Pauline Paterson, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health

We will create infographics and organise a virtual café discussion with parents about vaccinating their children during the coronavirus outbreak. The infographics will share findings from studies we conducted as part of the Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Immunisation, where we looked at vaccination counts and explored parents’ views and experiences of using GP services for routine childhood vaccination in England during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

We wish to further engage parents with the findings and continue a two-way dialogue with parents about vaccinating their children during the COVID-19 outbreak. The series of infographics will be shared with study participants, parenting groups approached for study recruitment and through LSHTM, the Vaccine Centre, the Vaccine Confidence Project and HPRU in Immunisation communication streams (e.g. newsletters, Twitter, websites).  

Life in lockdown: the new reality for Kenyan youth, in their own words, images and sounds

Isolde Birdthistle, Sarah Mulwa, Annabelle Gourlay, Department of Population Health and Sian Floyd, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health
Project partners: Jane Osindo, African Population & Health Research Centre, Nairobi 
Vivienne Kamire, Kenyan Medical Research Institute, Kisumu

As coronavirus spreads across the globe, millions are sharing their experiences on social media and news outlets. Rarely has there been such a global outpouring of human expression. This virtual connection is offering comfort and companionship for many, along with a record of human experience during an historical event. 

Life in lockdown aims to amplify the voice of young people in Africa during the Covid-19 pandemic, to ensure they too can be connected, counted, and heard. We will invite adolescents in diverse Kenyan settings to share the changes and challenges they are experiencing. We will supply the mobile data and create wide-reaching channels through which they can tell their stories, share their empathy and humour, voice their fears, and join the global conversation. We will create a virtual, evolving montage of the stories, images, videos, art, music they contribute. We will share their contributions widely with adolescent audiences globally, as well as with researchers and funders investing in adolescent development.   

Funded by the LSHTM COVID-19 Response Fund.

Together in Spirit: A video to support social distancing among young people in the UK

Rebecca Meiksin and Chris Bonell, Department of Public Health, Environments and Society, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, and Shari Krishnaratne, Department of Disease Control, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases

Recent data suggest that while the vast majority of UK citizens are adhering to social distancing measures for the control of COVID-19, 15% find it extremely difficult, and an additional 26% expect they will begin to find it extremely difficult in the coming weeks. Young people aged 16-24 are disproportionately affected. Drawing on social cognitive theory and key principles advanced by social and behavioural scientists with regards to the most promising strategies for communication initiatives in the context of the pandemic, we will create a video to increase young people’s motivation and self-efficacy for adherence to social distancing measures. This will take the form of a video montage created from user-generated-content focused on the challenges young people are facing, how they have coped and what motivates them to adhere to the measures in place.

Funded by the LSHTM COVID-19 Response Fund

The Scheme will reopen in spring 2021. For information about how to apply and where to go for advice and support, please log on to the intranet.

The Scheme is available across LSHTM thanks to generous funding from the Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund and the individual Faculties. Find out more about the Scheme’s history.