2022 Public Engagement Small Grants Scheme awardees announced

Drawings of an array of stalls proposing climate change solutions and highlighting the environmental impact climate change has on local communities at a two-day climate change solutions festival in Fajara, The Gambia. Attendees are invited to vote for their favourite stall by putting a pin on their favourite stall.
Climate change = time to change – MRCG science festival. A two-day climate change solutions festival held on 26-27 May 2021 in Fajara, The Gambia. Funding awarded in 2020 to Ana Bonell, Pauline Scheelbeek, Kris Murray and Zakari Ali.

The Public Engagement team is pleased 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.

The ten successful projects will be engaging public audiences in Brazil, Malaysia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, the UK and online. Read more about these exciting projects below.

Continued Development Grant

Solar cooker solutions in The Gambia

Ana Bonell*, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases / MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM

Jainaba Badjie, Carla Cerami and Kris Murray, MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM

Project partner: Ebrima Jarra, The Soil Solution

Human caused environmental change needs urgent action. Previous work in The Gambia identified deforestation due to firewood usage as a key focus for youth. We will therefore enact a solution advocated by Gambian youth – solar cookers. These have many potential benefits e.g. reducing air pollution and the consequent health impacts, and eco-system services from protected trees, but may be difficult to implement. We will engage with people who regularly cook with firewood/charcoal and are willing to be climate champions. Locally made solar cookers will be tested by several end-users and then trialled in communities severely impacted by climate change and deforestation. We will develop a video documentary, including a practical guide to build solar cookers and replication of all the recipes developed. Finally, we will bring together policy makers, climate champions, NGOs, stakeholders and other interested groups in The Gambia for a festival and cooking competition to encourage solar cooker usage.

The Diabetes Village: putting knowledge in the hands of people with diabetes in Tanzania

Charles Cleland*, Cova Bascaran and Matthew Burton, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases

Tanzania has the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes in Africa and the number of people living with diabetes is projected to increase substantially across sub-Saharan Africa over the coming decades. Through the power of storytelling, we will equip people with diabetes with the knowledge to better manage their condition. We will conduct interviews with a range of people in the “Diabetes Village” including patients and healthcare staff who will tell their story of managing diabetes and its complications in Kiswahili, the local language.

In collaboration with diabetic patients’ groups and healthcare staff involved in diabetes care, we will create an open-access digital education resource that will be made freely available to diabetic clinics and patients in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. This will include educational materials and audio / video recordings of people from the “Diabetes Village” telling their story. In collaboration with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, we plan to make this resource freely available across Tanzania.

Small Grants Scheme

Vaccine literacy for the next generation

Tracey Chantler* and Rachel Ford, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, and Beate Kampmann, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases

Project Partners: Marta Russo, Hospital Clinico San Carlos, Madrid
Generation R Alliance Young People’s Advisory Groups
Jenny Preston and Sammy Ainsworth, University of Liverpool

Vaccine literacy for the next generation aims to develop infographics for adolescents to promote evidence-based decision making. We want to engage adolescents as they are future adults, who will make healthcare decisions for themselves and the next generation. Our project will promote vaccination by creating a new section of the Vaccine Centre with new and improved material for adolescents. This material will be created by our teams under the guidance of Young People’s Advisory Group’s (YPAGs) from ‘Generation R’, a NIHR funded network that supports the design and delivery of paediatric research. Future goals are to establish a YPAG at LSHTM to support public health research and gain more input from young people based at the units in the Gambia and Uganda. The overall aim is to encourage the dissemination of evidence-based information about vaccines that is accessible and tailored to adolescents living in different parts of the globe.

Harm Reduction Storytelling: Maps and photo stories from walking interviews with people who inject drugs (PWID) in Tower Hamlets

Praveena Fernes, Faculty of Public Health and Policy

Project partners: Providence Row’s Reset Outreach & Referral Service; Stanford University Our Voice Citizen Science for Health Equity Initiative

There is an urgent need to reach those most at risk from drug-related harms by strengthening connections between harm reduction services and the communities in which people who inject drugs (PWID) live. This project builds on a community-engaged citizen science study that is investigating how local environments impact community health and recovery for PWID who seek services at a particular needle exchange in Tower Hamlets. This grant supports a public storytelling exhibition of maps and photos with first-person narratives from people who inject drugs (PWID) to invite a dialogue around place, community health, and harm reduction. This display will be accompanied by a symposium event where service users and staff at the needle exchange can share more about the harm reduction landscape and diverse experiences of ‘recovery’. Such stories have the potential to combat stigma and engage local decision-makers to advocate for improved programs and policies.

A fine line: Creatively exploring the emotional landscape of creative health practitioners supporting people with challenging conditions

Julia Puebla Fortier, Faculty of Public Health and Policy

Project partner: Sarah Carpenter

Creative health practitioners are artists who facilitate supportive and often transformative programmes that can enhance the health, mental health and wellbeing of their participants. For the creative practitioner, this work frequently involves listening to, containing and processing the personal experiences, needs, and joyful or difficult moments of their participants’ lives. This public engagement project will creatively portray the findings of a participatory design doctoral research project about UK creative health practitioners working with participants who have ill health conditions or challenging life circumstances. Collaborating with a mixed media artist and drawing on research summaries and stories, we will engage a diverse stakeholder audience through images and words in a creative participatory event. We hope to emphasise and validate the practitioners’ experience and emotional labour; raise awareness about the complexity of the skilled cross-disciplinary work they do; and motivate practice and policy responses to appropriately value and support these efforts.

FOCUS PSYCHOSIS: Making mental health a global priority: raising awareness on the challenges, needs, care and support of persons living with psychosis in Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Ritsuko Kakuma* and Anna Cronin de Chavez, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health

Many people with lived experience of psychosocial disabilities (PWLE) continue to face stigma and discrimination in the community and in healthcare settings. As part of the SUCCEED project on the development of interventions for persons living with psychosis, this project aims to promote inclusion of PWLE and their families and raise awareness about their challenges, need, care and support in Sierra Leone and Nigeria through three activities:

  1. A workshop (Sierra Leone) with 10-12 stakeholders including PWLE, family/caregiver, service providers, policy makers and community members.
  2. A radio discussion (Sierra Leone) including a peer researcher, a PWLE, a caregiver and a policy maker or service provider – to discuss the way people perceive, care for, support and treat persons with psychosocial disabilities. 
  3. An arts competition (Nigeria): An arts competition will be launched to engage adolescents (age 13-19 years) and understand their views on mental health. 
TransFormational Design: Co-creation of instructional self-collection diagrams to support the etiological diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) through a participatory approach with transgender people in São Paulo, Brazil

Daniel McCartney* and Philippe Mayaud, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases 

While certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are curable, various factors prevent people from seeking STI testing from a healthcare provider. Self-collection options are now available to allow people to collect their own samples, as such, the World Health Organization recommends that self-collection of samples should be made available as an additional approach to deliver STI testing services. 

Visual aids are commonly used to help support self-collected samples, including instructional diagrams or videos. However, these are often designed for use by cis-gender males and females with a marked absence of self-guided diagrams that are gender-neutral or transgender-inclusive to enable self-collection by transgender people and other gender- or anatomically-diverse populations. 

The purpose of this project is to co-create instructional, self-collection diagrams with the transgender community in São Paulo, Brazil. It is expected that the imagery co-created with a diverse group of community members will enable better acceptability and be understandable for users.

Creating my safe space: a youth-driven community project with Rohingya girls in Malaysia

Zhen Ling Ong*, Cathy Zimmerman, Joelle Mak, Faculty of Public Health and Policy

Rohingya refugee girls in Malaysia are at risk of violence due to threats of arrest, poor access to education and health services, child marriage, domestic violence and unequal gender norms. Women and Girls Safe Spaces is an intervention where physical and emotional safety is respected, and where empowerment processes are supported through information sharing, skills building and psychosocial support. Yet, there has been limited work to co-develop safe spaces with refugee girls in Malaysia. This project aims to: (i) encourage dialogue around ‘safety’ among Rohingya girls through themed discussions; and (ii) foster co-production practices in designing safe spaces to reflect local understanding and needs through strategic action planning and training. These will take place as a series of workshops, followed by weekly check-ins on participants’ project planning and implementation. We will support girls to share outputs and learning with other Rohingya girls and community members.

Bringing attention to under-employment of displaced healthcare workers in Uganda

Jennifer Palmer*, Faculty of Public Health & Policy

Project partners: Denise Ferris, BRAC Uganda
John Jal Dak, YSAT Executive Director, Rhino Camp refugee settlement, Uganda
Stephen Sokiri, Researcher, Kiryandongo refugee settlement, Uganda

LSHTM is conducting a study on the livelihoods of healthcare workers who have been displaced from South Sudan and live in two refugee settlements in northern Uganda. We have identified weak social connectedness, practical information needs, despondence among those who have given up on using their expertise, alongside positive examples of how others have successfully navigated employment opportunities. We see a public engagement opportunity to share our research and foster dialogue among healthcare workers who may like to connect and take forward their own initiatives to support employment-seeking and advocacy. We have also identified sensitive issues about how healthcare workers navigate employment laws and personal security concerns that we would like to discuss before sharing our findings with actors outside the settlements. In this public engagement project, we aim to discuss our research with publics inside the settlements to prompt action to better support displaced healthcare worker employment in Uganda.

Promoting sustainable research partnerships: engaging communities in feedback and participation in malaria studies in The Gambia

Seyi Soremekun, Marta Moreno (Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases) and Bakary Conteh (MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM)

Project partners: 
MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM: Famalang Camara, Lamin Drammeh and Annette Erhart
Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases: Chris Drakeley

The INDIE project (P. falciparum Infection Dynamics and Transmission to Inform Elimination) was implemented from 2019-2022 in The Gambia and aimed to assess the contributions of a range of malaria interventions to reducing transmission. This project,”Yewterreh for malaria” (Let‘s engage with malaria) will disseminate and discuss INDIE results with communities in the study area. It will centre around a series of Forum Theatre sketches of scenarios involving malaria prevention and treatment related to the INDIE project. Participants will engage with the plays and local facilitators to discuss study results, and their perceptions of malaria and its impact on them. We will produce a final poster, a project brief and blog posts all including input from the community showcasing the work of the project and the key discussion points from the engagement activities.

The Scheme will reopen in spring 2023. 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.