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Our work during COVID-19

  • Posted by Emily,
  • Partnerships Specialist,
  • in Listen up,
  • June '20

How we're bringing people and health research together

The COVID-19 pandemic has starkly revealed the inequalities in health that are experienced by people from different communities and backgrounds. It has also highlighted the importance of research and clinical trials to understand disease and develop new treatments. We work collaboratively with the research community to reduce inequalities in health research.

We’re part of the Manchester Rapid Response Research Group, bringing a patient and public perspective to the multidisciplinary research effort to reduce the impact of the pandemic and minimise lives lost.

During COVID-19 we’ve adapted the ways we work, whilst continuing to ensure that we provide offer opportunities for people to have a say in health research. Whilst many of our activities have moved online, we’re also thinking carefully about people’s needs, accessibility issues and safeguarding.

The Research Advisory Groups we work with are helping to challenge assumptions made in health research and sharing new perspectives on the COVID-19 crisis.

The BAMER Research Advisory Group are continuing to meet online, share the impact of COVID-19 on different communities, and work with researchers to draw attention to these. BRAG is also working closely with researchers to develop new research proposals that aim to address health inequalities.

Voice Up is a young people’s research advisory group, made up of young adults. Young people’s voices are often missing from broader discussions, and in the current crisis there are gaps in how facts are communicated to this information-consuming generation. Now, a collective of young adults, including Voice Up, are exploring different ways of understanding a pandemic by co-developing a unique digital comic. The comic will inform, connect and empower young adults to make sense of the science and research related to issues faced in pandemics. The project involves well-known graphic novel artists along with scientific experts from different research disciplines. The first scientist interviewed by young people for the project was Sir Patrick Vallance, Government Chief Scientific Adviser.

The importance of working collectively to ensure that health research benefits everyone has been highlighted in recent months. We’ve changed the ways that we work with people, researchers and communities during this crisis. We’ll build on these changes in the future and continue to make sure that people from all backgrounds and with all kinds of experiences are included in health research.

For me this project is a wonderful opportunity to allow young people’s voices to be heard and to express our hopes and desires for future research and the establishment of society.

—Amber, aged 16, Voice Up member

You can read a longer version of this blog on the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre website.