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Case study: CRN WM Young Research Champions - Leading the Way

Young Research Champions add to their numbers

Carly Tibbins, Patient and Public Involvement & Engagement Officer for the Network writes:

‘The Young Research Champions (YRC) Group formed in 2009 has a very successful history of helping researchers ensure their studies include the voice of the population they are researching.

‘After a short hiatus the group was reformed in February 2021, and due to the pandemic, it was held as a virtual group.

‘This was new to us all and we weren't sure how it would work, as the one thing the group had always attributed to its success was the rapport and camaraderie of face-to-face sessions.

‘We managed to get 13 new recruits without advertising, just from word of mouth which was amazing.

‘It is very different being online and the sessions all had to be re-planned but the young people have continued to be enthusiastic and work hard, and to give invaluable feedback to researchers. To date, we have looked at nine potential research trials.

One new member, nine year old Emily says: ‘I joined the group because I spent a lot of time in hospital when I was little and everyone looked after me so well. I want to help make hospitals even better for children and eventually become a Doctor. ‘

Emily is looking forward to being able to meet the rest of the group for the first time face to face.

Carly adds: ‘We were lucky to have Dr Chris Green, Consultant in Infectious Disease at the University of Birmingham, attend our September session to answer the group’s questions about the Covid-19 vaccine, and boy did they have a lot of questions! But Dr Green was not fazed - it was a lively and informative session.’

Dr Green says: ‘It’s clear that infectious diseases and vaccines are something everybody thinks about a lot now, and this includes children and young adults.

‘The heartwarming reflection I have is that asking them to consider having a vaccine can be about how this helps to protect others, and this is not lost on them. Their concern for others was very clear.

‘Equally, the many questions about vaccine equity and resource-poor areas of the world were an expression of how much we have in common in wanting vaccine protection for everyone.’

Dr Stuart Hartshorn, Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine, Birmingham Children’s Hospital adds: ‘My meeting with the YRC group was extremely helpful in the planning stages of a clinical trial. The group was quick to appreciate the unique features of the trial design, and were able to offer many excellent suggestions to ensure that the trial would appeal to children and young people.’

Lucy O’Mara Clinical Trials Manager from University Hospitals of North Midlands visited the group and says: ‘This is an impressive group of engaged and insightful young people, who have helped immensely with the development of our study’s patient-facing documents and overall study design.’

The group is looking at plans to recruit more members, especially those in the younger age range and with conditions/experience of hospital care, the age range of the group is 8-21.

Carly ends by saying: ‘We are hoping to start face-to-face sessions back up when it is appropriate, but also plans to continue a virtual group to ensure inclusivity for any young people who can’t join in person due to distance or a condition. So all West Midlands Partners are asked to forward details of any young people who might be interested to me at’