2021 Public Engagement Small Grants Scheme awardees announced

Illustration of a mother and a baby.
Elevating the voices of expectant parents during the COVID-19 pandemic – an online project to promote an inclusive and respectful conversation around the impact of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) on pregnancy, childbirth, and new parenthood. Funding awarded in 2020 to the Health Equity Action Lab.

The Public Engagement team is delighted to announce the awardees in the latest round of the LSHTM 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.

This year’s nine successful projects will be engaging public audiences in Egypt, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, UK, Zimbabwe and online. Read more about these exciting projects below.

Continued Development Grant

Healthy ageing in the Middle East and North Africa: engaging older people and their informal carers

Shereen Hussein, Department of Health Services Research and Policy, Faculty of Public Health and Policy

Population ageing is happening at an unprecedented pace globally, with most older people projected to live in Low and Middle-Income countries (LMICs), including the Middle East. The UN Decade of Healthy Ageing provides a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the need for older people (and those at the trajectories of old age) to adopt healthy behaviour and activities. However, ageing in general and healthy ageing receives little policy and public attention in the MENA region and other LMICs due to competing policy demands and priorities. Furthermore, the voices and perspectives of older people, and their families who provide most of the care and support they need, are seldom heard.

This project aims to engage directly with older people and their families in Cairo to identify cultural and gender-sensitive healthy ageing behaviour and interventions. We will hold two engagement events with diverse groups of older people and their careers and involve them in producing a mosaic video to be used for advocacy, policy and cross-learning activities in the future. We will also conduct a regional multi-stakeholder workshop to communicate findings with key stakeholders in the region.

Small Grants Scheme

Cancer and me – my story in pictures

Yuki Alencar, Bernard Rachet & Sara Benitez Majano, Department of Non-communicable Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health

Project partners: Alero Dabor & Steph Lawler, Patient representatives
Joanna Furniss, Photographer
Libby Ellis, University of Nottingham

Wide differences between cancer patients from wealthier backgrounds and those less fortunate are persisting, despite successive national policy initiatives. Understanding the challenges faced by people from certain socio-economic backgrounds or ethnic groups is key to improving outcomes and tackling inequalities. However, the voice of those most affected by these disparities is seldom heard. Engaging with those that experience worse outcomes, listening to the real stories behind the data, will open opportunities for mutually beneficial conversations.

This project involves workshops and follow-up sessions with cancer patients and carers from under-represented populations, where a professional photographer will introduce the participants to the photovoice methodology giving everybody ‘the opportunity to represent themselves and tell their own story’. The participants will create a ‘photo-novella’ or visual representation of their cancer stories. With their permission, these will be exhibited along with their text or audio recordings in public places (libraries, community centres, web-based collection).

COVID-19 community ‘Bantaba’ on the prevention and participation in a treatment trial in the Gambia

Omar Ceesay, Disease Control and Elimination, MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM

The current outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has caused unforeseen and extreme challenges to the global population. This has resulted in misconceptions about the virus leading to stigma and fear of the disease, which can affect our ability to conduct research. To address this, we will conduct a series of COVID-19 community ‘Bantaba’ open discussions to understand people’s perceptions and to address the misleading information being circulated on COVID-19. The Bantaba will reach village development members, head of the villages, adolescent, and female leaders within the community. This Bantaba will be a discission where every attendee will be given the opportunity to contribute their ideas. Key themes and messaging identified from engaging with the community will be used to create a script for a video, which will be shared with the wider community. 

Rift Valley fever drones: a Zooniverse project

Kallista Chan, Isabel Byrne & Steph Key, Department of Disease Control, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases

Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a viral mosquito-borne zoonosis. Though it primarily affects animals, humans can also contract the disease, usually through contact with infected livestock. RVF outbreaks cause serious disruptions to economic and agricultural systems, as well as loss of animal and human lives. Using the citizen science platform ‘Zooniverse’, we plan to map the distribution of livestock and wild animals in aerial drone imagery taken from study sites across northern Kenya. Due to the volume of expected images, this would be an enormous task without the people power citizen science initiatives can provide. With the help of volunteers, we hope to characterise fine-scale landscape patterns influencing Rift Valley fever transmission in Kenya. Additionally, the project aims to build interest in infectious disease research through the creation of educational materials for schools in Kenya and UK, a dedicated social media campaign, and opportunities to create online dialogue between researchers and volunteers.

‘!Obi nha storia!’ (Listen to my story): The journey and experiences of frontline MDA teams in the remote communities of the Bijagós Archipelago, Guinea-Bissau

Claire Collin, Harry Hutchins, Anna Last (Department of Clinical Research) & Katie Greenland, (Department of Disease Control), Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases
Project partner: Sra Eunice Teixeira e Silva Cassama, Director de Region Sanitaria Bolama-Bijagós, Bubaque, Guinea-Bissau

Community health workers – Agentes de Saúde Comunitária (ASCs) – are the frontline distributors of Mass Drug Administration (MDA) campaigns in the Bijagós Archipelago, Guinea-Bissau. Although they are crucial to the success of MDA implementation and uptake, their voices and experiences are rarely heard. 

As part of the MATAMAL clinical trial for malaria control, we will use photovoice to provide ASCs and their communities with the opportunity to describe their experiences of MDA delivery. Their stories, including challenges and successes, will be shared with key local and regional stakeholders and decision-makers during a one-day participatory community dissemination event and during the ‘Codewa’ (‘Healing’) pirogue roadshow which will bring ASCs back to their communities. Both events aim to empower ASCs and the community to act as advocates for malaria and MDA programmes and to generate ideas and recommendations on how to improve MDA processes for future campaigns.

Development of a Community Scientific Advisory Board for community-based TB and HIV research in Blantyre, Malawi

McEwen Khundi, Department of Medical Statistics, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health / Helena Feasey, Rachael Burke & Peter MacPherson, Department of Clinical Research, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases

As researchers at Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust, we are dedicated to research which contributes to ending the TB and HIV epidemics in Malawi and worldwide. To improve the quality of our science and to best serve the communities most affected by TB and HIV, we are developing a Community Scientific Advisory Board. 

Initially, we will host a festival of public health research for a large network of volunteers who have assisted with our community-based research projects in the past, to showcase our work and spark discussions. Following this, we will co-develop training workshops where knowledge is shared between community members and researchers about epidemiology, TB/HIV research, community priorities and community experiences of research. This will enable us to launch and support the first meetings of our Community Scientific Advisory Board, as a forum to co-produce research with meaningful input from people most affected by the TB and HIV epidemics.

Zvatinoda ‘what we want’: a youth-led film on young people’s health needs and preferences in Zimbabwe

Constance Mackworth-Young, Department of Global Health and Development, Faculty of Public Health and Policy & Aoife Doyle, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health

Health services are often poorly designed to meet young people’s health needs. However, young people are continuously excluded from communicating their needs and their preferences to improve health services. 

This public engagement project is nested within the Zvatinoda study, which is working with young people in Zimbabwe to improve health services for young people. The Youth Advisory Panel within Zvatinoda expressed a keen desire to communicate their health needs and preferences.

The aim of this public engagement grant is to support the Youth Advisory Panel to produce a short film, including a song and dance, to communicate their health needs and preferences. Engagement with the film, its messages, and the Youth Advisory Panel will be with:

  1. community members and healthcare workers within the Zvatinoda study community; and
  2. young people and those who work with young people across Zimbabwe and the UK.
Seeking sanctuary in England: co-designing resources (a film and a written narrative) to reduce mental health impacts of asylum-related interactions

Petra Mäkelä, Department of Health Services Research and Policy, Faculty of Public Health and Policy

People seeking sanctuary in England are required to give accounts of past traumatic experiences to healthcare professionals, Home Office officials and others when making claims for asylum. The mental health challenges of such interactions, and asylum seekers’ strategies for coping with them, have received little attention to date. Forms of support do not specifically address the impact of interactions nor promote the voice of those with lived experience. This engagement project will enable co-design of a short film and written narrative resource on coping with such challenges, for people seeking sanctuary in England and professionals supporting them. Experts by experience (with refugee status) will take part in two linked workshops to determine priorities to include in the film, which will be co-produced in a next-stage project. A graphic facilitator will capture workshop participants’ ideas in a visual map, to share insights and to help develop the film content.

Exploring Nigerian parents’ and guardians’ perspectives on childhood immunisations

Oyinkansola Ojo-Aromokudu, Sadie Bell & Sandra Mounier-Jack, Department of Global Health and Development, Faculty of Public Health and Policy

An online workshop for Nigerian parents living in the UK to discuss experiences of accessing vaccinations for their children to help inform a PhD project. The workshop aims to introduce the doctorate project and gain insight into what research areas are important to this community. Discussions will focus on vaccination perceptions and key decision factors for childhood vaccinations. Participants will discuss where they receive vaccination information, issues pertaining to timeliness and what factors make them decide to vaccinate or not. Interested participants will be able to take part in further workshops and continue their involvement in other areas of the research. Infographics will be developed from the workshop discussions to provide a visual representation mapping out the research and the community’s priorities, which will be shared with community groups and LSHTM research units.

The Scheme will reopen in spring 2022. 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.