NEON short film highlights improved nutrition and feeding practices among East London’s Bangladeshi children

NEON (Nurture Early for Optimal Nutrition) is a participatory female health volunteer-led intervention to promote healthy nutrition in children of Bangladeshi origin in East London, who have a  higher risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease in later life than the average child in the UK.

Childhood nutrition can impact adult health status and the likelihood of chronic diseases such as diabetes as well as oral health complications – making it important to act early to prevent long term problems.

NEON used a proven model from South Asia where the introduction of female health workers into local women’s groups has significantly improved maternal and neonatal survival rates.

A new short film highlights the impact of the NEON approach in local communities, and the improvements it has made to nutrition and feeding practices.

CLAHRC researcher’s run half-term residential training event for second cohort of young commissioners

Young Commissioners residential training for Dudley Council Integrated Commissioning hub, 2-4 November 2019

The “Young Commissioner” model – which sees children and young people work with funders and planners of local services to ensure they meet the needs of those in their age group  – is gaining traction among local authorities and the NHS.

CLAHRC North Thames child and adolescent researchers are training and supporting staff and young people based at Dudley Council, West Midlands to establish and embed the Young Commissioner model in their Integrated Commissioning Hub. This follows our work with a previous cohort of young people in East London to improve diabetes services.

Over the weekend of 2-4 November this residential event kicked-off the training programme for the young people using the principles of ‘learning by doing’. This has involved blending training with real-time commissioning activities.

The Young Commissioners worked with graphic facilitator Penny Mendonca on public speaking and presentation skills, and the different communication channels they could use.

Adult learners have also accessed project-specific eCPDs developed by the team to help them better align Council systems, structures and processes to optimise the impact and sustainability of this initiative. The adoption of the Young Commissioners model marks an area of innovation in how they work together with the public to commission children and young people’s services.

There is a strong commitment in Dudley Children’s Services to the active involvement of children and young people – the initiative forms part of Dudley Children’s Services Active Involvement strategy 2017, and the Children and Young People Market Position Statement 2018-2022.

“Dudley is a Borough where co-production with children and young people’s their rights are realised, and their views shape decisions made about their lives and those of their families.”

Dudley Children’s Services Active Involvement strategy 2017

Co-producing a ‘perfect’ care pathway for diabetes with young people

We’ve been working with young people to transform how local health diabetes services are designed and delivered for their age group.

CLAHRC researchers based at the University of East London worked with local young people to understand the options and barriers they face when given a diagnosis of diabetes and using NHS services.

We recruited a mixed young research team – in terms of age, ethnicity, faith-identities and backgrounds – who worked together over one year to help commissioners and providers better understand and address the options and barriers of delivering a ‘perfect’ care pathway.

You can see the results of this work in our latest BITE – a postcard summary of a CLAHRC research paper.

This is part of our wider work to co-design community-based diabetic services responsive to the needs of children and young people

Professor Jonathan Grigg launches new clean air coalition

CLAHRC researcher Professor Jonathan Grigg is among leading doctors, public health professionals and organizations launching a new global advocacy group to mobilize clinicians and public health professionals to advocate for clean air policies.

Inspire: Health Advocates for Clean Air (www.inspirecleanair.org) was launched in The Hague last week

Professor of Paediatric Respiratory and Environmental Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, Jonathan (below) is a leading UK paediatrician in the effects of air pollution. He is a founder member of the new interbational coalition, following his involvement in the UK based Doctors against Diesel initiative.

According to the new group nine in ten people breathe polluted air, making it the world’s leading environmental cause of death and disease. Inspire aims to bring air pollution to the forefront of health and climate agendas.

It will offer a framework to push governments to address the root causes of air pollution and advocate for clean air policies and it aligns WHO’s road map for global action, including:

  • Improve awareness in the global health community about air pollution and its health effects
  • Increase involvement of clinicians and clinical organizations in advocacy for clean air policies
  • Establish a global network of informed health-oriented champions
  • Grow public awareness of the dangers of air pollution
  • Exert political pressure on governments to encourage aggressive clean air policies

Visit www.inspirecleanair.org, where you can also join the coalition. #InspireCleanAir       

Mayor launches school programme developed to improve self-management of asthma in young people

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has launched a programme to improve the self-management of asthma by school children in the Capital. My Asthma in School was developed by CLAHRC researchers based at the Blizard Institute within Queen Mary University of London.

My Asthma in School

The programme uses educational workshops and theatre performance to improve asthma control and peer support for asthma in London secondary school.

Asthma affects approximately one in 11 children and young people in the UK; and young people with asthma have higher rates of school absences and visits to their doctor or the hospital. According to the data collected for the study, nearly half of young people (aged 11-18 years) with asthma did not have control over their condition.

Dr Gioia Mosler, Outreach and Learning Manager for the ‘My asthma in school project’, said: 

“The number of deaths from asthma in the UK rank among the highest in the EU. Many of these deaths could be prevented with better self-management.”

She added: “Improving the ability and motivation to self-manage asthma gives many young asthma sufferers the opportunity to improve their asthma control. As a result they would suffer less from common symptoms like coughing at night or breathlessness.”

My asthma in School is one of the first school-based interventions for asthma self-management in the UK. Similar trials have been undertaken outside the UK, however, given that the health and education systems differ, results from these interventions may not be transferable to a UK setting.

The programme has been approved and supported by Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. Mayor Khan was himself diagnosed with the conditon as an adult –  which he attributes to London’s poor air quality and pollution levels.

He said: “The Greater London Authority and I believe that the ‘My Asthma in School’ programme is likely to promote the necessary education young people require to effectively self-manage their asthma.”

He added: “I encourage all London secondary schools to take part in this programme.”

Using behavioural change theories as a framework, researchers have developed a variety of engaging and entertaining media, such as apps, videos, and interactive games.

The intervention includes an interactive theatre performance (below), lasting approximately two hours, to help raise awareness of asthma among peers. The performance has been developed with partners at Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre.

Dr Mosler added: “The theatre intervention addresses asthma from a new angle, focusing on peer awareness and support around young people with asthma. The questionnaire data we collected during phase one showed many barriers related to a perceived stigma around asthma. The theatre intervention addresses stigma around asthma in the peer group.”

The intervention will be trialled in London during the next few months. Given a positive result of this intervention it could be adopted as a wider programme to improve asthma in young people.

The programme is run as part of the My Health in School initiative which aims to improve life and health of young people at school. The team works with Professor Jonathan Grigg, who leads several studies about asthma and lung health in children and young people.

Helping inspire the next generation of scientists

What triggers asthma symptoms?

Can you identify celebrities who live with the condition?

How much lung capacity do you have?

These were just some of the questions we asked visitors to our stall at the 2018 Barts and Queen Mary Science Festival held at Queen Mary University of London’s Mile End campus on 20 June.

The CLAHRC was represented by the My Asthma in School project team at the event aimed at secondary schools and young people interested in a career in science and medicine.

We took the chance to give visitors information on symptoms and managing the condition in schools, and raising awareness among young people they can better understand and support fellow pupils with asthma.

They could also test their lung capacity and put their results on a peak flow rate chart to see how they rated against other young people (below). The team is looking for schools to take part in their work. Signing up your school is quick and easy and will help your school support & empower young people with asthma.

The Exhibitors at the festival provided hands on activities to encourage students to learn more about careers in science.

Now in its eighth year, the 2018 festival was supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) at Barts Health NHS Trust and Queen Mary University of London, and Trials Connect.

Thank you to the team and for the invite from Barts and QMUL.