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Meet the team


  • Graham Thornicroft
  • Peter Littlejohns
  • Clare Coultas
  • Natasha Curran
  • Zoe Lelliot
  • Ann McNeil

What is the positive change that has emerged through new collaborations or partnerships during Covid-19 that your project is going to embed?

In April 2020, the Diversity and Inclusion lead (Josephine Ocloo) at the South London Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) chaired a public zoom event aimed at gathering evidence on the unequal impacts of COVID-19 on people with protected characteristics. Fifty-two people took part, representing diverse groups that included BAME, LGBT+, disability, older people and pregnant women living or working in South London. Contributors discussed the importance of giving those most affected by the pandemic, greater influence over decision-making in health and care and research. The event highlighted that members of the public from diverse communities want their voices to be heard, but to do this more inclusive methods of participation are needed for groups who often experience longstanding inequalities in society and yet have frequently been excluded in participation initiatives.  This has led to the idea of setting up a research panel for the public to be involved in ARC COVID research.

What does your project aim to achieve?

The proposed project aims to co-produce and co-evaluate the embedding of people with protected characteristics into the COVID research work of the South London ARC in the newly set-up COVID Research Panel for the public. The panel works to ensure that diverse communities can foreground their experiences of the pandemic, including issues of inequity and discrimination, into the ARC’s COVID research. The emphasis on co-production and co-evaluation will not only provide insights into the detailed practices which enable and/or limit panellists from diverse communities in embedding their experiences, but will also support the development of more egalitarian and theory-informed ways of conducting COVID research and outcomes. Different methods will be trialled and co-evaluated, developing experiential insights on both the ARC’s COVID research and panellists’ experiences of participation. Multimedia materials and guidelines for supporting diverse communities to impact health and care research and the delivery of services will also be co-produced.

How will the project be delivered?

A monthly standing panel will initially be set up with seed funding from the ARC covering all payments for panellists during operation of the panel. The panel will then be developed as a research project with the help of a researcher if Health Foundation funding is successful.

The panel will include presentations on different ARC COVID projects. Different methods will be trialled to see what works best with the panel, including:

–  reflective sessions aimed at identifying barriers to trust and participation and co-developing strategies for addressing these;

–  use of different methods for researcher presentations (e.g. live presentations, pre-recorded videos, training on presenting to the public  for researchers, anonymised questions to researchers etc.);

–  panellist voice-notes recorded after each panel for documenting experiences of communications and the discussion;

–  co-developed measures for evaluating if/how the panel’s inputs are incorporated into COVID projects.

–  co-creation of multimedia dissemination materials and co-writing of publications with panellists.

How is your project going to share learning?

We will share learning via a variety of platforms. Through the ARC we have strong links with local authorities, health services, patient groups, and third sector organisations, and nationally are networked with the 15 other ARCs. Josephine Ocloo is also connected to national/international networks associated with healthcare improvement, involvement and research (e.g. WHO Patient Safety Programme, local Academic Health Science Networks in London, the National NHS England Mental Health Equality Taskforce and Patient and Carer Race Equality Framework committee, and the Race Equality Action Group, run by the NIHR Centre for Engagement and Dissemination). As part of the co-evaluation of the project we will produce best practice guidance on the different methods of participation trialled in the project, co-develop guidance on effective communication in researcher/community dialogue and presentations, co-write blog posts and academic articles, co-produce a video with the panellists, and co-design a sustainability and future strategy plan for the panel.

How you can contribute

  • We would welcome the sharing of expertise from Q members, for instance through the provision of online talks to panellists on topics related to COVID-19 in specific areas of healthcare, expert testimonies on experiences of providing healthcare in the pandemic, or support in the training of researchers on how to communicate effectively with members of the public. We would also value the support of networkers who could help us in disseminating the insights developed from the panel to communities outside of the Q Network. And we would be very happy to connect with other Q members who are working towards making health and social care research and services more inclusive to diverse communities, and/or can support us in identifying relevant academic and practice-based evidence in this field of work.

Plan timeline

1 Apr 2021 Start the process of recruiting a researcher and ethics
3 May 2021 Confirm a full timetable of panel presentations with ARC presenters
1 Jun 2021 Have first panel meeting as a participatory research project
1 Sep 2021 Hold reflective evaluative session on how panel is working
2 Nov 2021 Explore how a video can be produced on panel processes
17 Jan 2022 Co-write up of panel outcomes and processes
31 Mar 2022 Coproduce multimedia materials with panellists


  1. This looks like a great and really important project that aims to make a real impact in relation to health inequalities, and explores how to ensure that diverse communities have stronger involvement in health research.

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