24 Jan 2023

The Children's Health and Maternity programme is a national NIHR funded cross-ARC collaboration, aimed at identifying the most effective ways to implement interventions to improve maternity and child health across the country.

The event was designed for sharing learning and was attended by ARCs and universities from across the country, patient and public representatives, clinical practitioners, and by NIHR representatives.


ARC South London PPI network

Two of the four projects prioritised  by the national programme, based on their potential for impact were from ARC South London. The first was ESMI – III, a study on the implementation of optimal service delivery models for delivering Maternal Mental Health Service multi-disciplinary integrated care and support for women experiencing moderate to complex mental health difficulties. Researcher Dr Abigail Easter and public involvement partner/service user researcher, Rachael Buabeng, presented addressing context-specific barriers to implementation in pilot sites, to inform the national roll-out.


It was an absolute pleasure to present examples of how to engage and work with people who need/use statutory services to a room of amazing researchers, funders and academics as part of the ARC. True engagement is a skill that requires time, patience, effort, skiĺl, flexibility, respect and resource.

Rachael Buabeng speaking at national ARC PPI event

Rachael Buabeng, ARC South London maternity and perinatal mental health advisory group member

Rachael Buabeng speaking at national ARC PPI event

The second project was RIVA, a study evaluating models of health-based Independent Domestic Violence Advocates, presented by Dr Kylee Trevillion and Dr Jill Domoney both from King’s College London. Other prioritised studies were BRUSH - optimising toothbrushing programmes in nurseries and schools, a collaborative project with NIHR ARC Yorkshire & Humber, the Bradford Institute of Health Research and the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, and ADaPT - Trauma focussed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Children in care, a pilot implementation project.

The afternoon was made up of 10-minute talks.  Zenab Barry, ARC South London -maternity and perinatal mental health advisory group member, gave a warmly received presentation on how to include underrepresented groups into research.

Zenab Barry maternity and perinatal mental health PPI advisory member

It’s always good to advocate the appropriate inclusion of underrepresented groups in research. I have enjoyed sharing my views regarding the importance of belonging, social capital, balance of power, real coproduction, fair remuneration and trust. People shouldn't have to feel that they are merely fitting in, but that they can express themselves as they are and be heard, accepted and respected

Zenab Barry, ARC South London maternity and perinatal mental health PPI adiviser

Dr Abigail Easter, senior lecturer in maternity and newborn health at King's College London says: "Congratulations to Zenab who had her abstract selected and presented on ‘solutions and strategies to address implementation challenges’. You and Rachael gave truly inspirational talks.”

Being part of this networking event was truly inspiring. Reconnecting in person with researchers and PPI members and meeting some of them for the first time after months on Zoom made me feel part of a valuable and supportive community. I was hugely moved by Zenab Barry’s talk on the difference between truly ‘belonging’ and ‘fitting in’ - much food for thought.

Vita Moltedo

Vita Moltedo, ARC South London maternity and perinatal mental health advisory group member

Vita, Zenab and Rachael

There was a focus on patient and public involvement throughout the day, and ARC South London Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) network members took the opportunity to share their insights, achievements and frustrations such as regarding inadequate PPIE infrastructure and funding. Tania Sutedja, Pippa Norris, Vita, Rachael and Zenab, ARC-SL PPIE Network members, enjoyed the chance to be together face-to-face, a rare opportunity because of the Covid pandemic changing usual ways of working, and hearing maternity and child health research presentations.