The funding from KERN (King's Engaged Researcher Network) supports public involvement and engagement. This project is part of the theme's commitment to community partnership development and public involvement capacity building. Dr Abigail Easter leads the project team, made up of three peer researchers, psychology and midwifery researchers, and a non-academic patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) lead. The team will all be trained in Photovoice methodology, a research approach designed to engage people who often do not have much control in aspects of their daily lives, as a way for them to deepen their understanding of an issue and feel empowered. 

Their goals include creating and encouraging opportunities for self-expression about experiences, in this case pregnancy, birth and early motherhood experiences. Participants are encouraged  to “speak” through photographs, to connect with others in their community, and advocate for change.

Photovoice is based on joint participation in a visual activity. Taking and sharing photographs that have meaning for us, allows people in a community to express the concerns and issues that are most important and relevant to them, and to help others understand our lived experience and perspectives.


Maternity and perinatal mental health theme at the Lambeth Listening event

Photo: The maternity and perinatal mental health theme at the Lambeth Listening event. 

After being trained, the team will hold a community involvement listening event with mothers in Lewisham to find out what they feel about working together with Photovoice. This will build on earlier community listening work at a community centre in Brixton where the team worked closely with Lambeth Early Action Partnership (LEAP), and Parents and Communities Together (PACT). Peer researcher, Rachael Buabeng recruited mothers from the group she founded Mummy’s Day Out. King’s Maternity Voices Partnership and St Thomas’ Maternity Voices Partnership also publicised the event. The provisional name for the project is ‘Maternity Opportunities Research Engagement (MORE)

We’re building on our growing experience all the time. We’re exploring different ways of doing participatory research with peer researchers and community members and learning so much as we go. We hope to be awarded stage 2 funding, so that we can take forward working with community mothers on themes of importance to them

Abigail Easter

Dr Abigail Easter, senior lecturer in maternal and newborn health, King’s College London and deputy lead for the maternity and perinatal mental health research theme at ARC South London

When peer researchers work with academics, we can build meaningful relationships with community leaders and ensure research is for the community, by the community. Women do want to have their say and to feel they have been listened to and understood. Women often share with me their experiences, and how to improve care for themselves and their families.

Rachael Buabeng speaking at national ARC PPI event

Rachael Buabeng, ARC South London maternity and perinatal mental health advisory group member and founder of Mummy's Day Out