In May 2023 we launched SR&EDI Dragons’ Den. Colleagues (academic, research and/or professional services) were invited to pitch for investment (up to £5k) in a SR project which will benefit the School, the University and/or the wider community. We encouraged staff to be creative, innovative and aspirational with their ideas to enhance our input to the SR agenda. The Dragons’ Den pitching took place on Tuesday 13th of June 2023.


Panel membership:   Karolina Kluk (SHS SR Director), Juhi Gupta (SHS EDI Lead), Jayne Ward (School Operations Manager), Jenny Lomax (administrative assistant), Andrew Mawdsley (SHS Teaching Director), Natalie Gardiner (FBMH Associate Dean for EDI), FBMH Student Inclusion Partners (FBMH/Student Union partnership) Zainab Abidoye and Toga Balogun. 


The panel awarded funding to the following four fantastic projects:

Title: Autism@Manchester: Strengthening and widening participatory autism research

PI: Emma Gowen (PCHN)

Co-Is: Kathy Leadbitter, Alexandra Sturrock and Katherine (Katie) Twomey

Participatory research which involves co-production with members of the community that the research is about is key for creating high quality research that addresses questions relevant to the community in a ethically sound way.  Autism@Manchester is a participatory research network where researchers, clinicians, autistic people and family members work together to produce research that has real meaning for autistic people. In this project, we aspire to even greater involvement of the autistic community by creating a unique paid autistic co-leadership role to facilitate the greater equality desired by autistic people.

The new co-production officer will work with members of Autism@Manchester to design a toolkit to help autistic people to evaluate and access research. This is to address findings from our research that the autistic community feel unable to access and influence research which is about them. They will also meet with autism researchers at UoM to link them with Autism@Manchester resources, advise on participatory practices and assist researchers to write lay summaries about their research, ensuring that the language is acceptable to the autistic community. The co-production officer will also manage Autism@Manchester social media, posting news about research, events and involvement opportunities and facilitating constructive discussion to posts. 

The creation of a paid role for an autistic person within Autism@Manchester supports authentic commitment to the diverse and inclusive environment of the University and provides career experience for the co-production officer. Furthermore, the local and wider autism community will benefit through increased access to research with the future toolkit. Patient & Public Involvement & Engagement (PPIE) practices will be enhanced throughout the University by embedding participatory practices in autism research and facilitating better communication and co-production between researchers and the autistic community.


Title: The Periviable Pre-Delivery Conversation: a visual representation

PI: Jennifer Peterson (PMH)

The aim for this artwork is to be an abstract, raw visualisation of the conflicting emotions that parents and healthcare practitioners can experience during decision-making conversations prior to birth at periviable gestations (22+0-24+6 weeks). 

The artwork would be displayed in the public-facing corridor within St Mary’s Hospital at the Oxford Road campus of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, in the main publicly accessible section of corridor outside the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This would ensure the piece can be viewed by a large and diverse audience. The piece is likely to be around 2metres x 1.5-2metres.

The abstract nature of the piece will allow personal reflection and focus on the emotion of the situation, rather than the medical details of the cases the piece aims to holistically represent. We hope to have a brief descriptor of the study next to the artwork with a QR code link to further information about the ALLIANCE study and to invite viewers to anonymously share their reflections on the artwork itself.

Social Responsibility Goals:

  • Representation of the infants and families who were involved in the research
  • Dissemination of the research findings to a wider community
  • Increasing accessibility of research
  • Enables a reflective dialogue between the research and the audience
  • Sustainable dissemination format
  • Visually represent the positive research relationship which exists between UoM and MFT


Title: Growing Minds: Cultivating positive Mental Health and Green Living workshop

PI: Chelsea Sawyer (PMH)

Our workshop during “The Great Big Green Week” will explore the connection between environmental sustainability and mental health, aligning with the University of Manchester’s Social Responsibility and Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion agenda. We will advocate for social responsibility in four ways.

Firstly, fostering meaningful engagement between the university and the wider community, promoting dialogue and collaboration on environmental sustainability and mental health issues.

Secondly, promoting better health by emphasizing the positive impact of nature on mental well-being through activities like grounding and workshops (all of which are environmentally sustainable) on crafting and gardening. Thirdly, educating the community about the harmful effects of micro-plastics and offering sustainable alternatives to reduce single-use plastic.

Lastly, empowering students to engage with communities through meaningful research and solution development.”


Title: Safe and Sound: How loud is too loud?

PI: Sam Couth (PCHN)

The World Health Organisation estimates that over one billion people worldwide are at risk of permanently damaging their hearing due to unsafe listening practices, such as attendance at loud concerts and nightclubs. Noise exposure is the biggest preventable cause of permanent hearing loss, yet research from Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness (ManCAD) has shown that only 2% of people use earplugs to protect their hearing during noisy recreational activities. To address this issue, a team of students and staff from ManCAD will host a science exhibitor stand at Bluedot festival 2023 which aims to (1) raise public awareness of the dangers of noise exposure, and (2) improve hearing conservation behaviours (e.g., earplug use) for attendees at the festival. 

Social responsibility and ED&I are at the core of this project, which aligns with a number of the University’s SR priorities. In particular:


Better Health – Through our combination of stand activities and our intervention study, we aim to raise public awareness of the dangers of noise and to promote hearing conservation behaviours. By widely disseminating the project outputs, we aim to increase public awareness of noise exposure and foster a culture of safe listening habits to prevent disabling hearing loss. This could have long-term benefits for hearing health, which will ultimately ensure a better quality of life and general wellbeing.


Social Inclusion and Cultural Engagement – Over the course of the festival we have the potential to make an impact on thousands of individuals. Our stand includes a range of hands-on, fun, and interactive activities to engage members of the general public in science and encourage them to become “citizen scientists”. Festival goers comprise people of all ages, cultures, genders, and backgrounds, and so there is opportunity to involve members of the community who might not routinely engage with research activities. “


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