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Health research festival visits Blackburn


Over 250 people attended Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester’s fifth Health Research Festival which took place in Blackburn Central Library on Saturday 2 March 2024. 

The drop-in event gave people the chance to learn about and get involved in health and care research which can shape the future of the NHS, while also enjoying some family fun and games at the same time. 

The festivals have been visiting towns around the region and this one came to Blackburn in collaboration with East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. 

Throughout the event, there were opportunities to speak with representatives from health and care organisations across Blackburn and Darwen. Conversations held on the day will feed into future care provision, while some resulted in attendees being signposted to services for urgent attention. 

There were also opportunities to take part in a number of research studies seeking to improve health outcomes for people living in the region. 

For example, numerous people from the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities provided a saliva sample to be part of the Genes and Health study. This included the mayor of Blackburn, Councillor Parwaiz Akhtar. 

Plenty of parents consented to their child having a finger stick blood test to check if they are at risk of developing Type 1 diabetes as part of the ELSA study which was carried out aboard the NIHR’s Research Van parked on the town square. 

Three groups of Allied Health Professional researchers were at the festival to speak with people about their opinions on health and social care research as well as physiotherapy and other health services in Blackburn and Darwen. People's thoughts gathered on the day will contribute to the future direction of services in the bough to ensure they align with the specific needs of the local community. This element to the event was project managed by early career researcher Matt Kenyon, a physio from East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. 

The festival also featured representatives from health and care services from across the borough, including Blackburn with Darwen Healthwatch and One Voice Blackburn who collected swabs from attendees who could potentially save a life by becoming a blood stem cell donor. 

Michelle Stephens, Head of Research and Innovation at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We had a great day at our first Health Research Festival at Blackburn Central Library in collaboration with Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester and some of our research teams from across the Trust. A big thanks to everyone who came and to those who gave up some of their weekend to make this a big success.”