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Chief Scientific Advisor keen to learn from Salford experts in public health

Nov 28, 2018

Penny Cook (left) and Liz Burns with Professor Chris Whitty and guests
Penny Cook (left) and Liz Burns with Professor Chris Whitty and guests

Last Friday, Professor Penny Cook and Liz Burns from our Communities in Charge of Alcohol (CICA) research team were guests of Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Chris Whitty from the Department of Health and Social Care at a community farm in Wigan. Professor Whitty, who is also the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) lead, invited the pair from the School of Health and Society to find out more about their experiences and research findings.

Professor Dame Anne Johnson Chair of UK Strategic Co-ordinating Body for Health of the Public Research and Honorary Professor Kate Ardern Lead Director of Public Health for Greater Manchester for Alcohol and Drugs were also in attendance.

Greenslate Community Farm, built by the community and run by the community, is the setting for an innovative rehabilitation programme, where people in recovery from alcohol and substance use can volunteer as part of their recovery journey.

After a tour of the facilities, Chris and Penny discussed the University’s five-year NIHR funded programme; reflecting on the process from funding announcement, to bid development, to delivery of the research; and how to engage communities in public health research. As part of his fact-finding tour, Chris was keen to gauge Penny’s opinion on the NIHR Public Health Research Programme. He was interested to know what the NIHR could do to encourage more funding applications to evaluate community-based interventions like CICA, particularly those that benefitted the most health-deprived populations in the north.

Penny said: “it was a privilege to have the opportunity to elaborate on our research with Professor Whitty. He was genuinely interested in our ideas to stimulate more research around innovative interventions to alleviate complex public health issues.”

The pioneering CICA model trains local volunteers to become accredited ‘Alcohol Health Champions’. The champions are then able to advise family, friends and colleagues to rethink their drinking habits with the aim of reducing alcohol harm across Greater Manchester. The University of Salford, with the University of Bristol and the University of York have received funding from the NIHR to carry out outcome, cost-consequences and process analyses of the CICA scheme.

For more information, visit: hub.salford.ac.uk/communities-in-charge-of-alcohol/ or follow the team on Twitter @CICA_NIHR