Friday, 30 September 2022

Going beyond research to empower involvement and smash stereotypes

Posted by Sheena Ramsay, Professor of Public Health & Epidemiology, (and team: Emma Joyes, Emma Adams, Laura McGowan) in collaboration with Fulfilling Lives Newcastle Gateshead Experts by Experience

The way researchers approach some groups is often not sensitive to or inclusive of their needs. For example, the information can use technical language (such as ‘licit substances’ or ‘quasi-experimental’) which can be difficult to understand and off-putting. This can lead to people not wanting to take part in studies. Which means that new research insights, including changes to practice, can exclude those who are often most impacted.

Over the last two years, we have been working with Fulfilling Lives Newcastle Gateshead and their Experts by Experience Network of individuals with lived experience of multiple disadvantage. We have explored perceptions of services and programmes relating to oral health and related health behaviours - such as substance use, smoking, and diet - for people who experience severe and multiple disadvantage (a combination of homelessness, substance misuse, and offending). From the beginning, the Experts by Experience Network has shaped our work and helped us ensure it is accessible to those we want to speak to the most.

One of the ways that the Network has shaped our research is by helping us to create a video to help reach out to potential participants for our research - particularly people who are often excluded in research studies, such as people experiencing homeless.

Our team worked with the Experts by Experience Network to look at ways to get people involved in the research. We wanted to work with those who had insights into the issues we hoped to study, so that we could communicate the research in a way that would resonate with people. Together, we co-created an animated video as a means of reaching out to people, so they could find out about the research and how to take part.

The infographics in this blog show what we have learnt from this process of co-creating the video and the value of co-production.

Creating a video provided an easy way in which organisations (such as Crisis, Fulfilling Lives, and other providers) and local Expert by Experience networks could share information about the study.

Those involved in creating the video were able to draw upon their experiences to help shape the content. One of the members of the group shared their experience of the process:
“Some of us in the Network feel really strongly about this issue and have personal experience of it ourselves so we were keen to be involved and share our ideas and opinions.”
Another member said:
“I joined this project because my own oral health has been something I've been embarrassed about in the past so I thought I could add something useful to this work.”
We have tried to map out how we designed our video in the image below.

The video has also been shared nationally with a wide range of organisations that support severe and multiple disadvantage groups in Newcastle and Gateshead, London, and Plymouth to promote engagement with policy and commissioners, local authority, criminal justice system, primary care, and third sector organisations. Producing a video was no easy feat, but it was a simple way of sharing our research with people who are pressed for time. You can check out the video below.


A clear benefit of engaging with people with lived experience was having their input on how best to communicate our research widely. They provided real-life stories and examples, which helped create the narrative for the video. They helped challenge stereotypes of ways in which people can be portrayed in research studies - this resulted in modifying the images and language used in the video which were much more realistic and sensitive to the people we were wanting to engage. This has helped our research team become more aware of and appreciate the importance of stereotyping and how it can result in putting people off taking part in research.

The benefits reached beyond the research team and the video (the below infographic highlights some of these), as many of the Experts by Experience echoed how involvement has led to them feeling empowered and one member wrote a blog about their experience.

We plan to build on this collaboration as we continue our research and gain further input on findings from our study and next steps.

This study ‘Improving the oral health and related health behaviours of adults experiencing severe and multiple disadvantage: evidence synthesis and qualitative stakeholder research’ is funded by the NIHR Policy Research Programme (grant reference NIHR200415). The video was supported by Newcastle University Engage FMS. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Friday, 2 September 2022

Levelling Up: welcome news or overly ambitious and unrealistic?

Posted by Chloe Beck, Health and Social Care student, Northumbria University

Before his resignation, Boris Johnson unveiled his flagship ‘Levelling Up’ plan. Hailed as the ‘defining mission’ of his Government, this new plan strives to transform the United Kingdom by increasing opportunities and prospects for the whole population. It aims to shift Government focus onto the so-called ‘forgotten communities’ of Great Britain, through a decade long project consisting of twelve missions that have been given status within UK law. Although changes are now afoot in the Government, both candidates to replace Johnson - Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak - have stated their continued commitment to the policy. It seems therefore, that levelling up is here to stay (for a bit longer at least). But what might this mean for inequality in the UK and are its goals likely to be reached?

Levelling up fund boost for historical landmark and high street in Yarm (cropped)
Rishi Sunak visiting Yarm in North East England, December 2021
As might be expected with such a bold promise, the Levelling Up plan has been both welcomed, and branded as overly ambitious (Wood and Swift, 2022). Some see the policy as a serious attempt at understanding and reacting to the regional inequalities that exist within the United Kingdom (HM Government, 2022; Wood and Swift, 2022). Supporters view the policy as a sensible plan, with missions that are collective and recognise the links between health, skills, education and the economy (Wood and Swift, 2022). It’s certainly clear that Levelling Up promises some huge and much needed changes to healthcare services and for the population within the UK (including upgrades to hospitals, increased GP appointments, new fruit and vegetable prescriptions to help tackle food insecurity, changes to the school curriculum to support healthy eating, and community hubs to tackle diagnostic backlogs). Whether these changes are do-able in the context of continued staff shortages and already under-funded health services remains to be seen.

The Labour party has described Levelling Up as a rehash of recycled policies (Harari et al., 2022), with others stating that it is too aspirational and impractical (Pope, 2022). It is argued that the policies breadth and scope may make it hard for the Government to maintain focus and could create a scattered approach (Newman et al., 2022; Pope, 2022; Wood and Swift, 2022).

One of the major problems appears to be a lack of long-term funding into the whole Levelling Up plan, with funds only extending to 2030 (Swinney, 2022). Levelling up may not be fully achieved if funds dwindle once 2030 comes around. Calls for Government to extend Levelling Up plans beyond 2030 (Swinney, 2022), to ensure its longevity and successfulness are unlikely to be met, especially in a political environment where short-termism is the norm and where the maximum term of a Parliament is five years (Marsh, 2013). Likewise, critics suggest that an agreement needs to be made between political parties to ensure Levelling Up is not scrapped once a new Government comes into power (Davenport and Zaranko, 2020; Swinney, 2022).

Even despite levelling up actions, differences in productivity between areas within the United Kingdom will likely remain (Atherton and Webb, 2022). This is because different places have different roles within the economy, with London being top of the chart for professional services, and Wales for the manufacturing sector for example (Sykes and Lisle, 2021). Setting area specific goals and targets (Atherton and Webb 2022), and implementing types of spending (Mason 2022) which take into account the specific demographics and economy of an area may help to combat this issue. Though, of course, this local variation may pose alternative challenges due to mixed ideologies and inconsistency with ideas laid out in the original white paper.

Setting aside concerns about feasibility, it has also been found that many disadvantaged areas are not prioritised within the plan (Atherton and Webb, 2022). This demonstrates a lack of attention and care towards the very thing that the plan is aiming to fix: inequalities! Data journalists at The Guardian found that some of the most deprived localities are receiving far less financial support than some of the most affluent areas, with Bromsgrove in Worcestershire receiving £148 per person and Knowsley in Merseyside receiving no money per person for example. This chimes with Rishi Sunak’s comments about redirecting funding away from disadvantaged areas and towards wealthier towns.

Overall, the new Levelling Up plan has both its positives and negatives. It is a clear start at aiming to try and reduce longstanding inequalities within the United Kingdom. However, the extent to which these policies will be followed as they have been set out is unclear, and only time will tell whether it manages to achieve its missions and ‘level up’ the country.

The cynic in me thinks that this push for equity may also have something to do with attracting votes...

Part of our Fuse blog Student Series
The Fuse blog Student Series showcases posts by students who have been challenged to write a blog as part of their studies at one of the universities in the Fuse collaboration, the NIHR School for Public Health Research, or perhaps further afield. The authors may be new to blogging and we hope to provide a 'safe space' for the students to explore their subject and find their voice in the world of public health research.

The views and opinions expressed by the author are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Northumbria University or Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health.

Image: HM Treasury, OGL 3, via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, 12 August 2022

What impact did a blanket ban on new takeaways have in Gateshead?

Posted by Heather Brown, Professor of Health Inequalities at Lancaster University

At the end of a road I used to live on, there was a wonderful curry house that always smelled amazing every time you walked by, even if it was 8am in the morning and they were just starting to prepare the food for the day. Whilst I lived there, I ate more takeaway curries then I have in any of my other many houses which were not so conveniently located to delicious smelling food.

The food available to us in our environment is likely to influence what we eat and subsequently our health. The use of planning policy can be one way for both local and national government to help shape a healthy environment by limiting or restricting where certain types of food outlets can be located. About half of all local authorities in England have some type of planning guidelines to restrict new fast-food outlets. In England there are three main types of planning policy used to promote a healthy food environment:

1. restricting new fast-food outlets near schools.

2. restricting new fast-food outlets if the density of existing outlets has surpassed a certain threshold of all retail outlets (e.g. no more than 20% of all outlets can be fast-food).

3. restricting new fast-food outlets if childhood obesity rates are above a certain threshold (e.g. above 20% based upon data from National Childhood Measurement Programme for children aged 4-5 and 10-11).

What Gateshead did

Gateshead Council, like many local authorities in North East England, has childhood overweight and obesity rates that are higher than the national average. To try and reduce childhood overweight and obesity to less than 10% by 2025, Gateshead implemented all three types of planning guidance (a school exclusion zone, restricting new outlets by retail density, and restricting new outlets by childhood obesity rates). This is effectively a blanket ban on establishing a new premise for use as a fast-food outlet if the building was not already being used for that purpose. Buildings that were being used for fast-food could change ownership and continue to sell fast-food. This guidance was implemented in June 2015.

As part of an NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North East and North Cumbria (NENC) funded project, we evaluated if Gateshead Council’s approach to planning had any significant impact on the density and proportion of fast-food outlets in Gateshead compared to other local authorities in the North East which did not have any type of planning guidance. Data on food outlets came from the Food Standards Agency Food Hygiene Rating Scheme Data. Our analysis covered 2012-2019 (we did not include data during the Covid-19 pandemic because planning guidance on what type of food outlets could provide takeaways was relaxed) - a subject covered earlier this week in the Fuse blog post How Covid-19 changed the takeaway landscape by Callum Bradford from Teesside University.

What we found

We found that compared to other local authorities in the North East, Gateshead’s planning policy reduced the density of fast-food outlets by around 13 per 100,000 people and the proportion of fast-food outlets by around 14%.

Next, we are going to look at if this change in the density and proportion of fast-food outlets has had any impact on childhood overweight and obesity between 2015 to 2019 and if this did anything to reduce inequalities in childhood weight.

If you would like to read our paper in Social Science and Medicine on the impact of Gateshead’s planning policy on the food environment you can find it here.

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

How Covid-19 changed the takeaway landscape

Posted by Callum Bradford, Research Associate, Teesside University

During the Covid pandemic, you may have seen the memes for how there are two types of people during lockdown. First there were those who used lockdown as an excuse to exercise more, eat well, and generally take care of themselves in a manner of which they had never had the time for previously. Then there were those who out of sheer boredom, decided to drink and order takeaway on more days than not as it was ‘something to do’.

As you can probably guess, I very much fell into the second category.

To my detriment, takeaways typically sell food which is relatively cheap, high in calories, low in nutritional value, and (annoyingly) very appetising; all delivered to your front door in a matter of minutes. Now I don’t want to come across as anti-takeaway, or anti-business, there is a place in our society for unhealthy food, nor do I blame anyone else for my questionable dietary choices. However, I’m sure most of us agree that we can have too much of a good thing at the impairment of not only our own health, but also the health of the high-street.

Apparently I’m not the only one who is too easily tempted by takeaways, with local governments implementing planning regulations to further prevent this takeover-of-takeaways, in the knowledge that our willpower is often lacking. You’re likely familiar with some of the rules already in place, such as no takeaways within 200m of a school, or that most restaurants and pubs can only provide takeaway food on an ‘ancillary’ basis.

However, with the Covid-19 lockdowns pubs and restaurants lost their ability to trade. In an attempt to combat the potential loss of business, the government introduced new temporary measures allowing these businesses to trade as takeaways, without needing to apply for planning permission. In other words, my options for takeaway just increased threefold, and by ordering-in I was ‘doing my bit’ to keep businesses open.

As we were now stuck indoors, every occasion was now an excuse for a takeaway; Birthday? Takeaway. Passed Uni? Takeaway. Anniversary? Slightly fancier takeaway with cocktails (highly recommend).

With these temporary regulations in mind, we consulted with various planners, public health leads, and environmental health officers from across the North East, to better understand how these regulations were impacting their roles, alongside any public health trepidations they may have (if my diet alone wasn’t enough cause for concern).

The main theme throughout our conversations was an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. Covid had an unprecedented impact on the priorities of local authorities. Because of this, they could not organise the infrastructure needed to identify how many businesses were choosing to trade as takeaways. Even today as we slowly return to a sense of normality, the role of collecting this data appears to be unassigned as authorities play catch-up on work lost to Covid. Therefore, as you can imagine, gauging the impact of these regulations became very challenging and speculative. There was also uncertainty around how and when these regulations would end, or what elected members planned to do (if anything) about the potential long-term consequences to health.

Surprisingly, the main finding from our research had little to do with the regulations themselves, but rather how Covid has accelerated change in the takeaway landscape. During Covid, we all developed new habits (for better or worse); one of which was the use of online delivery services such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats.

Despite the temp Covid regulations now ending, with these delivery services, many businesses that could not originally offer takeaway now can, and local authorities have limited ability to prevent them from doing so since they aren’t technically providing the deliveries themselves. A quick search on Deliveroo in Middlesbrough for example offers me delivery for Burger King, Starbucks, and Creams Cafe. None of these options are well-known as takeaways, but all now provide the delivery of unhealthy food. And although these services were technically available pre-Covid, the pandemic has led to a huge increase in their popularity, allowing for more unhealthy-food options and the changing of shopping habits. There are also traffic implications. Have you ever tried to walk through Liverpool city centre during lunch hour? Attempting to dodge Deliveroo riders on their bikes as you stroll through town is quite the experience.

To summarise, the Covid pandemic had an unparalleled impact on public health professionals, to the extent that the government implementing new regulations regarding takeaways was considered low priority. Ambiguity surrounding the impact of these regulations remains, with the ending of the regulations becoming somewhat nullified given the rise of online delivery.

In conclusion I offer some advice. if you’re trying to eat healthier, writing a blog post on takeaways whilst doing ‘research’ on Deliveroo, might not be the wisest of ideas – speaking from experience.

Friday, 29 July 2022

Part-time work can be a game changer for families and a smart strategy for organisations

Posted by Belinda Morgan, flexible work expert & author; Amelia Lake and Helen Moore, researchers from Fuse at Teesside University

Part-time work has the potential to change lives. Done well, it can drive hugely positive outcomes for individuals, families and society. But its potential isn’t widely understood, so part-time work still sits largely on the sidelines of organisational strategy – under-rated and under-utilised.

And even organisations who are leading the way with the accessibility and implementation of part-time work, are rarely doing it well at all levels. It’s still very uncommon to see senior leaders working part-time.

Amelia Lake, Fuse Associate Director, and Helen Moore, Fuse Associate, at Teesside University are bucking this trend. Both work in senior level roles in public health research, leading teams and both work part-time.

Amelia and Helen were two of the senior leaders I interviewed when writing my book Solving the Part-Time Puzzle: How to decrease your hours, increase your impact, and thrive in your part-time role. They shared their stories about how they make their part-time arrangements work, and the benefits they experience from working in this way.

Helen Moore (left) and Amelia Lake (right) both work part-time in public health research
Amelia said, “When I first started working at Teesside University, I would frequently get asked what was my ‘side hustle’ when I wasn’t at work and people were surprised to hear that I was doing family activities with my (then) young children. While I appreciate working part-time is a privilege, it allows me a better work-life balance and time with my children.

“During the pandemic, and post-pandemic, childcare has been difficult to access, and being part-time means some days of the week can be less stressful in terms of childcare. Working part-time means I work even more collaboratively with colleagues as their support when I am not at work is important. It can be hard to switch off emails and alerts on non-working days, and I don’t always do it, but I know it is important.”

Helen said, “It was, and is, important for me, as the primary carer of young children (I have two sets of twins) with a husband who works away in the Merchant Navy, to be able to have some flexibility around when and how I work. This supports me in being able to take them to, and pick them up from, school several days of the week, and to not have to rely all of the time on either family help (which can feel like an imposition) or paid childcare (which is both expensive and difficult to find when you have four children).”

So why is it so rare to see senior leaders working part-time? Largely because there’s an embedded belief that senior leadership roles are the most challenging to do part-time. Many people will tell you it’s impossible – and that it’s not even worth attempting.

Stories of leaders like Amelia and Helen are hugely important, because we badly need more senior leaders leading the way and working part-time. When senior leaders do so it demonstrates to others that part-time work is acceptable and encouraged, and that it’s possible to keep growing a career while working part-time.

The individual and family wellbeing benefits are quite clear, and should be reason enough for organisations to start creating more part-time work opportunities. But the reality is that more encouragement may be required.

The good news is that there are some other big reasons for organisations to get on board with this.

A clear and highly relevant advantage for employers is talent attraction and retention. In the context of the ‘great resignation’ of 2022 this is a critical consideration for organisations looking to find creative ways to solve the talent shortage.

Firstly, it allows employers to retain their talented people who reach a point where they want or need to work part-time.

In Amelia’s words, “We need to see more people in leadership roles working part-time. I was promoted to Professor in my part-time working pattern which illustrates that it is possible to do high quality impactful work building capacity and also doing research, while working part-time. Teesside University has both promoted me and supported me in my part-time role.”

It also enables employers to tap into a hidden talent pool of highly qualified people who either can’t or choose not to work full-time. They include people with caring responsibilities, people with health issues, and people at retirement age who would stay in the workforce longer if given the opportunity to work part-time.

Helen said, “I strongly believe that working part-time doesn’t equate to a reduction in performance, and that it is demonstrated by my promotion to Associate Professor and being one of two Teesside University Star Award Research Excellence finalists in 2021.

“Being supported by Teesside University to work part-time in a senior role enables me to both lead the work of the University’s successful Evaluation and Impact Team, and to be able to be present and care for my four children.

“Having managers who were willing to try something new, even take a risk, and recruit a person to work part-time hours to establish and lead a new team has paid off and worked well – it has enabled me to grow significantly as both a researcher and a research leader.

“Roles similar to mine which I have previously considered, have been strictly full-time hours only, and did not feel open to someone with other commitments like me. There are a lot of talented people who for various reasons would like to work less than full-time hours, and I’m hopeful that my experience shows it is possible.”

This is also, of course, about inclusion. The consulting firm Timewise warns that if a company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programmes aren’t underpinned by a commitment to flexible working that includes part-time, they will struggle to be fully inclusive. 'This will not only have a negative impact on their gender pay gap, but is also likely to impact their employer brand'

As well as the talent related benefits, there are also productivity benefits to be reaped by organisations who are willing to introduce more part-time roles. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data confirms that productivity (defined as output per working hour) improves with shorter hours. Across the world’s richest countries, higher productivity correlates with lower working hours.

The power and potential of part-time work really is huge. It can be a game changer for families and a smart people strategy for organisations.

Friday, 22 July 2022

Going hybrid: The best of both worlds?

Posted by Helen Moore, Associate Professor (Research), Teesside University

Since 2012 my ability to attend in-person and participate in seminars, conferences and workshops has been significantly reduced. This was partially due to a change in my mobility while I was pregnant with twins twice (!) (2012, 2015), and then after my pregnancies, due to the challenges of arranging childcare for four small children. It has become easier as they have got older, but after my second maternity leave, I returned to work but remained the primary carer for four children under the age of four as their father (my husband), was (and still is) a Merchant Navy captain, which involves working away for half of every year.

Make an enquiry about getting professional technical help as soon as you conceive the idea
 – don’t assume it will be prohibitively expensive
During this time, I had always felt very grateful to any event organiser who took the time to release the slides after their events or, as time progressed and technology moved on, to run an additional online version as this enabled me to participate, albeit in a less than perfect fashion, but I viewed it as certainly being better than nothing. I hadn’t really appreciated how many other people were also often unable to attend events in-person, due to other factors in their lives, but this was brought into sharper focus for me with the Covid-19 pandemic when I started reading, and joining in with, conversations on social media around event accessibility that had never been on my radar.

I’m sure everyone remembers that when lockdowns were imposed, initially events were completely cancelled but as time progressed and it became clear this was not going to be a ‘flash in the pan’, the planning stages of events began to include considerations of how best to run them entirely online, with many people having to rapidly learn and develop skills around using technology to engage with the maximum number of participants possible.

Between January-April 2021, I was part of a team that worked on a project commissioned by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) which looked at the impact of Covid-19 on the hot food takeaway planning regulatory environment in North East England. As the project drew to a close the team thought that this, alongside other work we had been involved in, or were aware of, would make an excellent Fuse Research Event, and my colleague Professor Amelia Lake and I decided we would work together to make it happen.

I was keen to explore the possibilities of having a, in my view, truly hybrid event, where participants could choose to attend in person or via a real time remote video stream, and where presenters could choose to be in the room or present via a MS Teams link. I had previously worked with the team from Teesside University’s Aurora House on other projects, and Amelia had worked with them to create the live stream of her inaugural professorial lecture, so we were confident that they possessed the skills, the technology and the will to ensure this could happen.

It took a lot of organisation to get this to work, and having organised many events pre-Covid, it was definitely more work than if we had decided to run a traditional event with in-person attendance only. I spent significant amounts of time thinking about how we could include the remote audience and presenters in the discussion in the most effective way. The entire event was live streamed on the Fuse YouTube channel, with a technician ensuring that the virtual audience saw a mix of angles and information during the session. We used to allow the remote audience to submit questions during each presentation, and then one of the organising team asked the questions using the same microphone that was used for questions from the room so everyone could hear.


We only had one minor hiccup, in that we used my personal Teams account to allow the external speakers to present, and I forgot to decline meetings that were scheduled to run at the same time – and, of course, the other meeting used the chat function, which meant everyone could read their messages! We managed to get a message to the other meeting and they quickly stopped using the chat function!

As usual, we asked for feedback on the event, and the comments were extremely positive, including the fact it was hybrid, with “Ability to attend online”, mentioned in more than one response.

I would absolutely encourage people to think about making the effort to run hybrid events. it widens your audience and opens up different avenues for discussion – posing a question via an online function is, for most people, less scary than standing up and speaking into a microphone! 

My top tips for running a hybrid event

While I was writing this blog, I thought about what my top five tips would be for anyone considering running a hybrid event in the future:
  1. Make an enquiry about getting professional technical help as soon as you conceive the idea – don’t assume it will be prohibitively expensive;
  2. Ensure you communicate with the presenters and attendees, before and during the event, about how they can interact and engage during the event;
  3. Use interactive apps such as
  4. Avoid using personal accounts for external events, such as Teams or Zoom (or make sure to decline any other meetings scheduled at the same time!)
  5. Always ask for feedback to improve future events.

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

The Fuse conference in four Public Partner poems

How to capture the essence of a conference about setbacks, successes and 'brilliant failures' in public health research - an event report, a news story, the results of a survey?  What about in the prose of our public partners who provided their expertise as panellists?  That is what they suggested and here they are.

The 5th Fuse International Conference on Knowledge Exchange in Public Health took place between 15-16 June 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne.  Find out more about the event, speakers and panellists on the conference website.

..the Fuse experience

PJ Atkinson, public member of Gateshead Poverty Truth Commission

PJ in the centre of a fishbowl conversation
Recently I was Invited to chat with Fuse.

Well it was a Wednesday, had nowt to lose.

They numerify and storify researching for Public Health.

And let me tell you, with very little wealth.

We had main stage speakers, panels, and side room topics, it was never droll, even sat in a fish bowl!!!

We discussed, pyramid breaking, old ideas smashing, and reforming, these people are fun never boring.

But most of all, they turn setbacks into learning, with passion and resolve.

Fuse and its people, want to adapt, grow and evolve.

Knowledge Flow

David Black, Fuse public partner and hospital governor 

(r-l) David and Irene providing their expertise on how to turn setbacks in knowledge exchange into successes

After waiting too long the day came along and it's off to the conference for me.

Knowing where I'm going, despite the traffic slowing, I'm knowing I'll be on time.

Must listen today then whisk my thoughts away to plan what I'll say tomorrow.

A script's what I need after taking heed of the need for brevity.


We're off and running, the introductions are made and it's welcome to one and all.

A programme, like life, which can be subject to change.

Reflections on knowledge mobilisation and mistakes.

Evidence of local knowledge exchanged at place.


Amid the plethora of parallel sessions and plenary panels.

The exchange of views over coffees and teas.

The paper presentations and interactive poster sessions.

Fishbowls of hot topics and Cabaret of dangerous ideas.


A modicum of the local and a smorgasbord of internationalism.

I entered to play at the start of the day, full of eagerness to learn.

To share a thought and to be taught a lesson by all in attendance.

Public health, its impacts and strength of this particular human endeavour.


Day two is here and I'm ready, with no fear.

Up on the stage, knowing what to say and trying to keep it brief.

Then before you know it's off, we go and ending with applause all-round.

To have a voice and speak it out, it's a great place to be.


Good feedback I'm feeling, plenary speaking's appealing.

Networking and knowledge sharing, I'm doing.

A supportive, safe space, it's a real great place.

For setbacks and solutions to be shared.


So, to the end game, the main themes and learning all noted.

My highlight, the brilliant afternoon keynote.

Institute of Brilliant Failures with celebration, laughter, a new way of thinking.

A refreshing concept, informing my future knowledge sharing and learning.

My First Fuse Conference

Margaret Ogden, Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) representative from County Durham

Margaret (right) sharing her experience of the importance of setbacks in knowledge exchange in public health

I went to the Fuse conference in mid June 22

PPI members were invited, I met more than a few

The focus was knowledge exchange, so meaningful to me

In presenting I’d soon see how dynamic I could be

I loved the international element to this annual conference

Diversity was a theme that would get so much reference

Seldom heard communities, always a huge challenge

Dissemination of info too, a challenging thing to manage

Just how effective can knowledge exchange be

With the right expertise, it can be achieved quite easily.

I began my talk with detail of a planned PPI event

That didn’t go well, in spite of the hours which we spent

Planning, collaborating, finding the right venue

But with few attendees present, it can all go askew

We’d do better next time, was our overriding thought

For on that occasion, limited data was caught

I also referred to a further memorable meeting

Where conflict had arisen, it could have been defeating

It was really a clash of people with strong wills

I had to dig deep for new negotiating skills.

As a panel, I felt we made a great team

This experience had totally elevated my self esteem

My first face to face high profile event

At a nearby location, that was heaven sent

My mobility had worsened in the last two years

Confidence had been dented, I now had fears

I needed to get stamina back and level of fitness

I imagine my struggles were hard to witness

But as I move forward with determination and fortitude

I thanked my hosts for the invite which I’d accepted with gratitude

I didn’t make the second day of this interactive event

That had been a real shame, was my only lament.

Knitting out the Knots 

Irene Soulsby, Fuse public member from Gateshead

We talked a lot 

Knitting out the knots 

We talked and talked and talked 


Knitting out the knots 

Comparing designs 

Line by line 

Reknitting stiches  

Holes and lines 

Redesigning our designs 

Comparing setbacks and successes 

Knitting them into things that would impress us  

Learning from each other 

With enthusiasm and sharing 

Creating our new designs.

Many thanks to our public partners for taking the time to write their fantastic poems for this Fuse Open Science Blog. 

If you are interested in joining the Fuse Public Partner Network please visit the dedicated Public Involvement section on our website.