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Agile team learns of appetite for research at community events

Web banner for agile team attending community events.

Members of the CRN North Thames agile team, which promotes and supports the delivery of research in community settings, have been a strong presence at two events in North Thames recently.

The team attended the Queen Mary University of London Festival of Communities at Stepney Green Park and the Big Conversation on BAME Men’s Mental Health and Wellbeing at the London Muslim Centre, organised by local charity Social Action for Health.

The Festival of Communities focuses on the vibrant community of the London borough of Tower Hamlets, where the university is based.

The festival was created by the university in collaboration with Tower Hamlets community groups and organisations, to provide a space where everyone can come together, share experiences.

More than 8,000 people attended on the day and the team, supported by a representative from Noclor, handed out information about research, with leaflets about Join Dementia Research in particular proving popular, and visitors were given an activity where they were asked questions about research by the team.

Sarah Gifford, Community Engagement Manager at Queen Mary University of London said: “It’s so important to engage residents and communities in all stages of health research, so it was particularly great to have CRN North Thames take part in the Festival of Communities this year.

“The festival provides an opportunity for people to come together in Tower Hamlets and begin really important conversations about new and important topics which the team really embraced over the festival weekend. Thanks for all your efforts!”

At Social Action for Health’s Big Conversation event at the London Muslim Centre, which focused on mental health in men from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, members of the agile team heard presentations from community leaders and NHS representatives on some of the issues and barriers which have prevented men from these communities accessing mental health services.

The team also took part in group discussions with community members and leaders, where participants shared their own experiences, with language-specific facilitators and male and female exclusive tables.

Ceri Durham, Chief Executive Officer at Social Action for Health, said: “Our Big Conversation event involved and engaged Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic men from our local community in a discussion about their mental health and wellbeing.

“We worked hard to create a space which encouraged conversations about this topic in a culturally sensitive and informed way and will be using the insights gathered to take our work forward.

“We were pleased to have healthcare representatives and researchers at the event to take part in discussions, hear from community members, and broaden their understanding of the barriers and concerns around their mental health and wellbeing.”

Of both events, Rachel Evans, a Clinical Research Practitioner and member of the CRN North Thames agile team, said: “These were great events for reaching out to the community - both really fruitful.

“It is great to know that there is a healthy appetite for research, but it is also vital to know what the barriers are. Everyone we spoke to at these gatherings gave us some great insights.”