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Dr Laura Nellums, Lecturer in Global Health in the Institute of Infection and Immunity, is one of St George’s first four public engagement champions. Here, she talks about bringing migrant communities together with policy makers, healthcare providers, and third-sector groups through arts workshops exploring their experiences of health and health services.

A photo of Dr Laura Nellums. Dr Laura Nellums

My research at St George’s, University of London is focused on disparities in access to care and health outcomes in diverse migrant populations. These individuals are underrepresented and often excluded from both health services and research, due to factors such as cultural or linguistic barriers, health policies restricting access to care, or experiences like fear, stigma, and discrimination. There is a need to strengthen engagement with these groups and to involve them in reducing health inequalities, as well as ensuring research and healthcare are inclusive of these groups. This is important not only in our local context, where migrant communities comprise 34% of the population living around St George’s, but also nationally, in recognition of the increasingly diverse communities across the UK.

As a public engagement champion I wanted to strengthen my own knowledge, capacity, and experience in how to meaningfully engage with diverse communities in healthcare and research, but also to strengthen wider understandings of how to do this to inform evidence-based and community-centred approaches in future public engagement with migrant groups at St George’s and across the UK.

In my project, I am collaborating with UCL, the Migration Collective, and Community Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (CARAS) to develop arts workshops to explore experiences of health and health services with migrant groups, third-sector organisations, healthcare providers, and policymakers. This will provide insight into how creative-based approaches to engagement can facilitate knowledge exchange between these groups, and also strengthen capacity for more meaningful engagement between these groups in the future. A workshop with a diverse group of migrant participants, as well as NGOs, researchers, and policymakers took place in London in September 2019.

The key outputs of this project will be:

  • art exhibitions for the London Migration Film Festival, as well as in the local community

  • a collaborative network who can support health research as ambassadors for diversity in public engagement

  • a framework for engagement with diverse communities in health research and services, which will be shared with stakeholders to inform their work with these communities.

I am grateful for the opportunity to strengthen my experience in public engagement through the Champions Programme, which has provided excellent training and opportunities for connections and collaborations. I am excited to be a part of St George’s growing community and emphasis on engaging the wider public with the university’s research.


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