Thanks to everyone who stopped by our Women’s Health Research stall at the Birmingham Mela festival over July 22-23 in Victoria Park. Despite heavy rain taking over all of Saturday, the team were still able to engage lots of visitors over the two days, including many British South-Asian and South-Asian women and their families, local councillors and other stall holders.
Dr Caroline Gillett, who organised IMSR’s presence at the event with the support of Research England QR funding, was joined with clinician-scientists Dr Fatima Junaid and Dr Saba Tariq, as well as 5th year medical student Anoushka Ramkumar, who all helped facilitate conversations about women’s health and the importance of diversity within research involvement activities. Dr Catherine Drysdale from SMQB also teamed up with us, as did DAISy-PCOS leader Sunila who has polycystic ovary syndrome – enabling us to have lived experience voice and a quantitative scientist also represented.
We had several women express an interest in joining the DHL Network’s ‘Hildas’ patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) group and we will be following up with opportunities for their involvement soon, including Caroline’s QR-funded health literacy project.
Collectively the team helped raise awareness of some of the research and PPIE being done in IMSR, especially within the Birmingham BRC Women’s Metabolic Health theme led by Professor Shakila Thangaratinam. If you know women interested in PPIE and/or in reducing access barriers to research involvement get in touch with Caroline to find out more.
As the biggest South-Asian music festival in the UK, the festival gave the team the opportunity to engage a key target audience in our region.
“If we want public involvement in research that is truly representative and diverse, we have to make genuine efforts to engage different communities in environments where they feel comfortable and where they are already going, rather than expecting people to always come to us on campus.” – Caroline
The team found many visitors shared similar experiences and many expressed their gratitude for the team being there to raise awareness of why women’s health matters.
“We spoke to a 25 year old with PCOS who had been told by a female GP in the UK that ‘removing their ovaries’ would cure PCOS. When you hear horror stories like this, it’s shocking and reiterates the importance of advocating for yourself and for other women who may be less able to advocate for themselves . So many other women spoke to us about not being listened to and about the need for answers to their questions… something that rigourous high quality research, shaped with their input, can help us to do.” – Caroline