Byres Community Hub opens its doors again!

Published: 25 September 2023

Our monthly catch-up with Susan Grant, SHW's community engagement coordinator, following the Byres Hub Doors Open Day event, the launching of a new exhibition, and a conversation with Prof Sara Macdonald about crucial Patient Public Involvement and Engagement in Research (PPIE)

Susan Grant, School of Health and Wellbeing community engagement coordinator, updates us on the Byres Hub Doors Open Day event and our latest exhibition. She shines a spotlight on Patient Public Involvement and Engagement in Research (PPIE) in conversation with Prof Sara Macdonald.

A group of people standing outside the Clarice Pears building

Doors Open Day 2023

Clarice Pears featured in Glasgow’s 2023 Doors Open Day (DOD) programme with over 100 other buildings. Thank you to the 28 staff and student volunteers from SHW and the wider university and our community DOD volunteer, Barry for helping to make our first DOD so successful.

Photo of a group of volunteers at Clarice Pears Doors Open Day 2023

There was a lovely atmosphere in the building, and it felt like a real team effort. Our hourly tours of Clarice Pears and three walking trails on the History of Public Health in Glasgow were fully booked and everyone seemed to really enjoy looking around our new home. One visitor said it was "a very calm and zen lovely space". Another commented: "Its great to see that the community is being included in the knowledge that is being accrued".

People enjoying a tour of the Clarice Pears building on Doors Open Day 2023

There was lots of chat in Byres Community Hub between visitors and volunteers over many cups of tea. We had some activities on offer for families and pop-up research stands to share the work of the School and of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, including The PACES project (Physical Activity, Social Connectedness, and Healthy Ageing Study) featured in the image below.

Staff manning a stall at Doors Open Day 2023

We welcomed 198 members of the public to Clarice Pears across the day, most of whom were visiting for the first time. Thank you to everyone who joined us – we hope to see you back soon.

Please see Dr Sharon Greenwood’s HAWKEYE newsletter piece to learn more about our brand-new health walks in collaboration with Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland and Paths for All.

Health walk at Doors Open Day 2023 outside Clarice Pears

Patient Public Involvement (PPI) in research

Patient and public involvement is such an important area for the School of Health and Wellbeing and therefore for the Byres Community Hub. Most funding bodies expect research teams to discuss their research ideas with the public, even before submitting an application. In School of Health and Wellbeing, we are lucky to have Tracy Ibbotson, the lead for Patient Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) for the College of Medicine, Veterinary and Life Sciences (MVLS). Tracy helps co-ordinate several PPIE groups, including a long-established primary care group and a long COVID group. The PPIE group is led by a strong steering committee made of learned patients, carers and members of the public from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. You can learn more about this work on the MVLS PPI webpage.

I spoke to School of Health and Wellbeing’s Director of Innovation, Enterprise and Engagement, Prof Sara Macdonald about PPIE and developments in this area as a result of Byres Community Hub.

What is PPIE?

PPIE is having the input of non-academics at all stages of the research process. PPIE helps us establish whether we are asking the right questions, in the right way, and make sure we are working ethically. Non-academic PPIE participants can help academics with participant-facing materials like information sheets, consent forms or lay summaries. They make our research more accessible and we can sense check our findings as they emerge. PPIEs can assist with dissemination plans and help identify better ways of communicating our research results. It is not unusual to have a public patient reference group that provides oversight across the lifetime of a research project, much like a steering group or advisory board. It is recognised good practice that PPIE members sit on independent study advisory boards. It is essential that we do our best to represent the authentic voice of the patient or community. Studies that have independent advisory boards often stipulate that there should be PPIE membership to represent the authentic voice of the patient.

PPIE representatives are not research participants as we might imagine. They are supported to obtain skills to fully engage with the research process and are financially rewarded for their time and inputs. The important role of PPIE is promoted at all levels of the academy. For example, new PhD students on the Wellcome Doctoral Training programme for Health Professionals are paired with a PPIE buddy, and PPIE is also covered within the Master of Public Health programme.

One of the impact goals for Byres Community Hub is towards "Increased involvement in research from communities of place and identity underrepresented in HE".

What are the PPIE opportunities at the Hub?

Lived experience panels are a form of PPIE where advisors are selected from the community and asked to reflect on issues which affect their daily lives. These panels can provide an insight into people’s everyday experiences and enables the voices of seldom heard to contribute to the research process. At Byres Hub we have an opportunity to develop, sustain and support meaningful engagement with communities. The Hub allows us to have a more inclusive approach to PPIE and strengthen both diversity and inclusion. We can’t stress enough the importance of building genuine partnerships in community engagement; the hub provides valuable opportunities for colleagues in the School of Health and Wellbeing and for the wider University to forge and sustain meaningful community collaborations. It is important to stress that this kind of working can be intense, takes time and needs to be properly resourced. We also need to offer tangible outcomes for communities; we really need to avoid what we might call 'smash and grab' engagement.

How are we are bringing underrepresented voices into our research? – SysteMatic and PPIE

Prof Sara MacDonald, Prof Frances Mair and Dr Barbara Nicholl have recently been awarded funding for a project called SysteMatic. This project seeks to find digital solutions to meet the challenge of people living with multiple long-term health conditions. There is a recognition that these solutions need to be equity focused by design. Through the Hub consultation and first exhibition in partnership with North West Glasgow Voluntary Sector Network (NWGVSN) we recognised the opportunity to formalise a partnership between SHW and the network. We invited Martina Johnston-Gray, as representative of the network, to join SysteMatic as a co-applicant, with a critical role in ensuring the PPIE process considers the voices of under-represented communities. This innovative approach to engagement and involvement stemmed from the community work undertaken at the Byres Community Hub. (Poster created by Dr Nic Dickson from General Practice and Primary Care.)

Image of a post entitled

Health Inequalities Exhibition

I shared a bit about Chance2Change in last month’s HAWKEYE. They were introduced to us by Senior Clinical Lecturer and Academic Lead for the Deep End GP project in Scotland, Dr David Blane. C2C were invited to be one of the 11 NWGVSN member organisations who were part of our Creative Health and Wellbeing exhibition and also became a lived-experience panel for SHW and part of our wider temporary exhibitions in the Hub.

In 2023, C2C were commissioned by the Queens Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS) to undertake photojournalism work exploring health inequalities in partnership with Inclusive Images and Clydesider. The topics included homelessness, grief, trauma, early deprivation and neglect, addiction, poverty, and physical ill health. These topics were all part of a professional development programme for community nurses and midwives and the project was funded by the Burdett Trust for Nursing.

Byres Community Hub is pleased to host this thought-provoking exhibition as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival from 04–22 October 2023 alongside a collaborative needle-felting piece entitled "Drumchapel in the Spring". Chance2Change members created this piece as part of a Drumchapel LIFE project with Lin-Pin Craft. In addition, on Thursday 19 October 2023, C2C will be screening their films, "The Wee Club That Changed Our Lives" and "Chance2Change Does Digital", in our Clarice Pears building where Byres Community Hub is located.

An image of Susan Grant with the Chance2Change group in front of the tower exhibit

We were delighted that C2C’s group facilitator, Leanne McBride, as one of our guests representing the community engagement work of the School at the official opening of Clarice Pears on 12 September 2023. Leanne is featured in the image below with Clare Cable from Queen's Nursing Institute Scotland and Jason Leitch, Scotland’s National Clinical Director.

Photo of Jason Leitch, Leanne McBride and Clare Cable in the Clarice Pears Building

The official opening was a really special event and we look forward to the film that UofG Development and Alumni are producing, featuring many of our Hub users. Meantime, you can view a short film from the day


T: UofGByresHub

Susan Grant 
SHW community engagement coordinator 

First published: 25 September 2023