Who We Are

Andy Gibson

Academic Lead for People in Health West of England, Associate Professor Patient and Public Involvement at the University of the West of England

Holly Ayres

Communications and Engagement Manager at the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) West of England. 

The mission of the CRN is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. It achieves this by coordinating and supporting the delivery of research, and enabling a diversity of individuals and health and care organisations to participate in high-quality research.

The PPIE team at the CRN works with patients and the public to improve the experience of participating in research, using feedback from the Participant in Research Experience Survey and local Research Champions. The team also engages with local communities to facilitate access to research studies being delivered in the region and to promote opportunities to take part in research, such as those on Be Part of Research.

Contact Holly about how the CRN can support your PPIE activities, if you have a project that local Research Champions could support, or if you are interested in becoming a Research Champion. holly.ayres@nihr.ac.uk

Mike Bell

Patient and Public Involvement Facilitator for NIHR Applied Research Centre West and the Bristol Biomedical Research Centre

Mike supports the NIHR ARC West and Bristol Biomedical Research Centre to involve patients and members of the public in their research projects. He also runs a Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG) made up of young people aged between 10 and 19.

He has a background in advocacy, and most recently, NHS complaints Advocacy.

Contact Mike if you need advice on practical issues including recruitment of public contributors, planning and running meetings and payment and expenses. Do also get in touch if you are doing research on or about young people and would like to talk to the YPAG.

mike.bell@bristol.ac.uk 0117 342 1249

Mike bought his first motorbike in 1974 with money he won on a radio quiz show.

Michele Biddle

Research Associate in Public Health, University of the West of England

Michele is a Research Associate in Public Health at UWE, and has a background in hospital and regulatory pharmacy. She has helped to develop and deliver a practical workshop on public involvement evaluation in research.

She is currently working on a systematic review of the attitudes and approaches to patient and public involvement (PPI) in Europe. This follows on from her publication of a toolkit and practical guide for PPI in antimicrobial medicines development research.

Contact Michele michele.biddle@uwe.ac.uk if you would like to discuss delivery of workshops related to PPI in medicines development or PPI evaluation in research. Read more about Michele’s work here, and follow her on Twitter @Michele_Biddle

Michele also enjoys being active and learning about local culture on her travels.

Jan Connett

Senior Project Manager, Bristol Health Partners

Jan supports people to get involved in Bristol Health Partners’ projects, through their ‘Health Integration Teams’. Their aim is to improve the health of people living in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire by contributing strategically to the design of services and environments; and by linking researchers up with people, health services and commissioners.

Have a look at the Bristol Health Partners website to see the health areas that they focus on https://www.bristolhealthpartners.org.uk/health-integration-teams/

Contact Jan if you would like to join any of these teams or to get more information about them jan.connett@bristol.ac.uk 0117 903 7546

Jan loves coffee, cycling and textiles!

Noreen Hopewell-Kelly 

Research Fellow in Health and Social Sciences, University of West England and PPI lead, NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre

Noreen is a Research Fellow in the Department of Health and Social Sciences at UWE and a member of the Public Involvement Team at PHWE.  Noreen leads the Public involvement at the NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

Noreen’s public involvement interests include;  The Evaluation of PPI,  developing public involvement and coproduction in difficult contexts with sensitive topic areas and the development of innovative dissemination platforms  to  reach underserved community groups.  She recently led on the collaboration of ‘Hard Evidence’ a theatre piece with public contributors that focused on their experiences of domestic abuse and the role of PPI (https://www.bristolbrc.nihr.ac.uk/2021/11/03/hard-evidence-raising-awareness-of-domestic-abuse-and-financial-control).  Noreen is looking at developing a bid  to  explore  the impact of emotionally complex involvement projects on PPI leads.

Noreen has an academic background in qualitative research with previous work encompassing; death and dying, palliative care, mental health and gender.  She also works with the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Centre, Cardiff University as a qualitative researcher on a study exploring the feasibility of study design for people living with Ovarian cancer.

Noreen has a keen fondness for boxing, baking and red wine.

Carmel McGrath

PPI Fellow for Health Protection Research Unit and NIHR Applied Research Centre West

Carmel is also a PhD student at the University of Southampton. Her research is funded by the NIHR Southampton BRC and University of Southampton. Carmel’s PhD is focussed on exploring the impacts of public involvement on health research outcomes and methods to evaluate these impacts.

Carmel initially started her career in nursing and is now completing her final year as a PhD student at the University of Southampton. Her research explores the impact of patient and public involvement (PPI) in health research. The aim of this work is to better understand how PPI impacts research outcomes. As part of this research, Carmel has conducted interviews with PPI stakeholders. She has also completed secondary data analysis of 2,415 open text responses to questions around PPI impact from data obtained from the Researchfish platform.

Results from her studies have shown that developing meaningful partnerships with PPI contributors, at the earliest phases of research, increases the likelihood of producing relevant research outcomes.

Throughout her doctoral research, Carmel has worked with patients and the public who have influenced each stage of the research process and shaped the research outcomes. These outcomes include developing strategies to support researchers with their PPI practice and evaluation of PPI impact.

Jo White

Senior Research Fellow, University of the West of England

Jo is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Health and Social Sciences and a member of the UWE public involvement team.

She has a range of research experience including exploring women’s experience of childbirth and accessing maternal health services, and a recent study into young people’s life worlds and behaviour, focusing particularly on gender relations and sexuality, and how sexual health services can better meet young people’s information and support needs. A number of her recent projects have involved training and supporting members of the public to work as ‘peer’ or ‘community’ researchers.

In her public involvement work she is particularly interested in co-production and how to capture the diverse perspectives and needs of service users, and apply this evidence to policy-making, service planning and delivery.

Contact Jo about evaluating public involvement, and enhancing diversity and inclusivity in health research and health service development strategies. jo.white@uwe.ac.uk

Jo loves dancing, going to gigs, trying out new eateries in Bristol and travelling.

Jasmin Ward-James

Administrator for People in Health West of England

Jasmin has a Level 3 NVQ in Business Administration and is currently studying for a BSc in Forensic Psychology through the Open University.

We also have an Operational Group and Steering Group who meet throughout the year.

The Steering Group agrees and reviews work plans and monitors delivery and resources needed.  Membership includes representatives from partner organisations; the People in Health West of England lead; the co-chairs of the Operational Group; public contributors; and a local member of the INVOLVE advisory group.

The Operational Group develops work plans for agreement with the Steering Group and monitors the ongoing delivery of work. Membership includes public contributors and staff from each collaborating organisation; the NIHR Research Design Service South West; regional Healthwatch organisations; and the People in Health West of England lead.