The Panel was originally set up as a Covid Research Panel for the Public in January 2021, to enable greater participation from diverse communities in Covid research.  It was set up because of widespread concern that the coronavirus pandemic and measures to tackle it were having a disproportionate effect on certain sections of the population who already experience considerable inequalities.

The Panel has now set out a broader remit to enable public involvement in all areas of the ARC’s research. Its objectives include:

  • To help develop a broader model of patient/public involvement in research, grounded in principles of diversity and inclusion.
  • To enable members from diverse communities to be involved in co-producing, co-evaluating and helping to develop key values for research as well as the delivery of services.
  • Through working in partnership with ARC South London researchers, helping to build a community, diversity and participatory approach to research within the ARC and improve communication to bridge the gap between researchers and the subjects of their research.

Feedback from researchers who have presented to the panel in the first year from January 21 to January 22 includes:

‘It was very easy and a very rich discussion, no prompting required! The Panel also offered constructive challenge and practical suggestions for recruitment which was appreciated.’

‘The panel offered very constructive and helpful feedback.'

Covid public research panel

We’re delighted that researchers are finding the Panel’s input so valuable and in some cases, Panel feedback added directly to study design and methodology or helped to write their research bid. They have found the combined approach of receiving verbal feedback and written feedback after the meeting particularly beneficial. They also talked about learning more about participatory and inclusive community-based methods from the Panel.

Dr Josephine Ocloo, equity, diversity and inclusion lead for ARC South London

Panel members were recruited through external advertising and an application and appraisal process. This  asked for people who either lived or worked in south London and we were particularly looking for diverse representation from groups across the protected characteristics covered by the Equality Act 2010.   

There are currently 12 panel members who have lived experience of health and/or social care services. Fifty per cent of members are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. The meetings are chaired by Dr Josephine, Equity Diversity and Inclusion lead at ARC South London.

The panel meets monthly and invites ARC researchers to present their work in different areas. The aim of the meetings is for the Panel to discuss the ideas presented and to make comments or suggestions for improvement. Researchers provide a lay summary of their research in advance of the meeting and complete a booking form. During the first year of operation the panel had 15 meetings with researchers. Panel members have also had  an active role in the design and delivery of the ARC’s Inside Research symposium series.

It has been eye-opening to see what a diverse group of strangers – people from different ethnic backgrounds, all ages and diverse cultural upbringing – can create and achieve. I believe that bringing all our qualities, weaknesses and experiences to the table to create a respectful and cohesive group is an incredibly powerful platform for public involvement in research.

We challenge researchers on aspects of public involvement that we feel have not been adequately considered but it is our true diversity that allows our collective point of view to stay balanced and impartial. I believe that this is hugely valuable to the researchers we interact with.

Vita Moltedo

Vita Moltedo, a Public Research Panel member

Panel members have suggested recommendations and ways forward for the Panel in future including:

  • Panel members are keen to find out what happens with the research after their input and the key findings
  • Panel members would like to see their input and the work of the Panel firmly embedded in all the ARC research
  • There is a desire for more collaborative methods in research studies with researchers working with public, service users and carers in a community-based approach with community organisations working with populations currently under-served by research
  • More equal collaboration such as including PPI research interviews, more research proposals and grants that are co-authored and co-produced with PPI representatives.

Read the full report on the first year of the Public Research Panel.

Watch a video introduction to the Public Research Panel