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Hungry for Change group receives regional funding boost

A patient and public involvement (PPI) group led by Loughborough University academics from the NCSEM-EM has received a funding boost from the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network (EMAHSN) to support its activities.

The Hungry for Change PPI group came about in response to the difficulties many families face to feeding their children during school holidays. The Department of Education reported in 2018 that 13.6% of families rely on the support of free school meals during term time, but during the school holidays there is no such provision, and there is evidence that an increasing number of families are experiencing what has now been termed ‘holiday hunger’.

A number of community interventions have been implemented to address issues arising from holiday hunger and a team of Loughborough academics plan to conduct research to investigate the utility and efficacy of such interventions and inform the ways in which these can better meet the needs of families. To do this, the team need the vital insights of the people who stand to benefit from community interventions, as well as those who organise them.

The funding from the EMAHSN aims to support not for profit groups to start or continue vital work to increase patient, carer and public involvement in healthcare across the East Midlands. Ten such groups received £1,500 each to help meet their essential running costs.

Hungry for Change will use the bursary to capture the insight and experiences of people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are harder to reach and therefore seldom heard in research. The team seeks to engage children and young people, parents/carers and families in investigating community solutions to food poverty in the following ways:

  • Expert advisory and consultation group; engaging with school staff, academics, staff from government and charity organisations
  • Children’s consultation group; engaging with young people aged 11-16 years
  • Parent and carer consultation group; engaging with parents/carers with children aged 11-16

The bursary will help the team to meet the essential running costs associated with engaging with the PPI group. It will also help to establish a lasting legacy whereby organisations who implement interventions to alleviate holiday hunger can consult with the group to ensure their projects are maximally beneficial.

Dr Clare Holley, Lecturer in Psychology in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University, said: “We are very grateful to the EMAHSN for awarding this money to our PPI group. The group is crucial to the quality of our research, enabling us to develop an appropriate research design for our population groups and understand and overcome the barriers associated with engaging people from deprived communities in research.”

Mike Hannay, Managing Director of EMAHSN, acknowledges that even small amounts of funding can make a big difference to voluntary sector groups: “Patient and public involvement groups are at the very heart of service improvement and transformation.

“These groups give a platform to so many people who otherwise may not feel able to contribute, including patients with disabilities or mobility issues and those from underrepresented communities. We recognise the valuable contribution of these individuals, groups and organisations and hope these grants will help them to thrive and grow.”

If you have any questions or would like to hear more about the Hungry for Change PPI group, please contact a member of the research team:

Natasha Bayes (PhD Researcher)

Clare Holley (Lecturer in Psychology)

Carolynne Mason (Lecturer in Sport Management)