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CRN South London holds its Annual Research Forum event

CRN South London held its first Annual Research Forum event to bring the research community together to tackle people’s health inequalities head-on.

The conference event at Governors’ Hall, St Thomas’ Hospital, focused on broadening research participation across south London. Delegates were asked to think about how the research community can do more to engage under-served communities in NIHR-supported health and care research through our event booklet and via Slido. Slido is an audience interaction platform that engages delegates during events or meetings by crowdsourcing questions using live polls and quizzes.

Attendees would later find out the winner of our under-served communities and health inequalities poster competition. We asked contributors to produce a visually engaging digital poster about research addressing health inequalities, broadening people's access to NIHR portfolio research, and supporting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

Dawn Beaumont-Jewell, our Deputy Chief Operating Officer, opened the conference by highlighting the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic on research and the need for the research community to continue to work as one to tackle the health issues faced. She said:

"The pandemic shined the spotlight on the impact and implementation of research in the NHS, but also demonstrated the depth of inequalities in general, specifically in health and social care."

The keynote speaker was Shaun Danielli, Director of Population Health and Equality at King's Health Partners and NHS South East London. Shaun shined a spotlight on the health inequalities and research inequalities facing the population of south London. He said:

"Many of the issues and problems facing our communities were highlighted over 100 years ago and persist today. Deprived and ethnically diverse areas of London face the highest climate risk, so we need to tackle these issues head-on together."

Shaun highlighted those who smoke, drink above recommended levels of alcohol, are physically inactive and have a poor diet as being at the most increased risk of death and disability in London.

Dr Eva McGrowder, a Research Study Coordinator from The Institute of Cancer Research, highlighted the PROFILE study. The study examines why some men, including black men, are at the highest risk of prostate cancer.

Carrie-Ann Black, Head of Nursing for Research and Quality at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, presented on the systems approach to addressing research inequalities for under-served communities. She also spoke about developing their Patient and Carer Race Equality Framework.

Our EDI Lead, Chifundo Stubbs and Inclusivity Advisor, Dr Josephine Ocloo, updated attendees on the Network's Inclusivity Panel plans to run Research Cafés in partnership with local community organisations.

Patient and Public Interaction and Engagement Manager Neha Modha and Community Champion Husseina Hamza spoke about the NIHR's Research Ready Communities Programme, recognising the need for community engagement and building trust in under-served areas.

We then had our first-panel discussion with our speakers for a session exploring the importance of equality, diversity and inclusivity in the work of CRN South London, which was chaired by Dr Natasha Curran, Medical Director at the Health Innovation Network and the Lead for Implementation and Involvement at NIHR Applied Research Collaboration South London.

After the break, Dr Pauline Swift, a Consultant Nephrologist and Associate Medical Director for Research and Education at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, talked about how the Transformation of Research through the Network's Direct Delivery Team is taking research outside of NHS hospitals.

We heard next from Dr Bina Ram, a Research Associate in the School of Public Health at Imperial College London. Bina's presentation focused on the iMprOVE study, which looks at the impact of the Daily Mile challenge on children's physical activity, mental health and educational performance.

Director of Care at Nightingale Hammerson, Nuno Santos Lopes, shared insights on successfully implementing research projects in care homes. Dr Sima Berendes, Principal Investigator for the VIP-IDEAL study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, spoke about vaccinations in pregnancy and the factors contributing to low vaccine uptake among pregnant and postpartum women in ethnically diverse areas of London.

Research nurses Stephanie Harvey and Uju Rockson-Rapu from our Direct Delivery Team were our final speakers of the day. Stephanie and Uju talked about why mobile research matters. All of the speakers in our second session then took part in a panel discussion about the biggest challenges of broadening the scope of research.

Jacqueline Totterdell, Group Chief Executive of the St George's and Epsom and St Helier Hospitals Group, then closed the conference and announced the winner of our under-served communities and health inequalities poster competition, which was Dr Kirstie Soar, Janine Brierley, Charlotte Mair and Bethany Gardner from the Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research, based at London South Bank University! Kirstie went onto the stage and was presented with her certificate by Jacqueline.

Kirstie, Janine, Charlotte and Bethany highlighted the NIHR-funded ProjectSCeTCH, which looks at smoking cessation in those experiencing homelessness. Kirstie said:

"I'd like to thank CRN South London for a great and inspiring afternoon. It was a real privilege to showcase the NIHR-funded ProjectSCeTCH to attendees and a true honour for us to win the poster competition."

All Annual Research Forum images copyright Alex Orrow. Images are available for personal use and the promotion of NIHR services only. Any third-party editorial or marketing use must be directed to Alex Orrow via