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Helping to improve the health and care of patients and the public.

The NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Greater Manchester (ARC-GM) is supporting applied health and care research that responds to, and meets, the needs of local populations and local health and care systems.


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About Us

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) fund, enable and deliver world-leading health and social care research that improves people's health and wellbeing, and promotes economic growth.

The NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Greater Manchester (ARC-GM) supports applied health and care research that responds to, and meets, the needs of local populations and local health and care systems.

We are  one of 15 ARCs across England, part of a £135 million investment by the NIHR to improve the health and care of patients and the public.

Our research activity is  pivotal in finding new and evaluting better ways of preventing illness and delivering care, ensuring that Greater Manchester continues to be at the leading edge of health innovation, applied research, care and treatment.

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Health Inequalities
Public Health
Social Care


NIHR ARC Implementation Workshop Series Workshop 2 - Bringing organisation science into implementation science

Event: Workshop

Date: 10th October 2022

Time: 14:00 - 16:00

This workshop will be hosted by Graeme Currie from ARC West Midlands


Facilitating implementation through implementation research is one of the core functions of the ARCs. Implementation leads across the ARCs welcome the opportunity for informed discussions among those involved in implementation practice, research and funding around some key issues that would benefit from a coherent approach. To that end, we are organising a series of linked two-hour virtual roundtable events later this year. Each one will involve two short presentations to stimulate discussion, leading to the development of recommendations which will be collated from all four events to inform future ARC plans and strategies.

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NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) Implementation Workshop Series Workshop 1 - Maximising the Impact of NIHR funded research

Event: Workshop

Date: 19th September 2022

Time: 14:00-16:00

This workshop will be hosted by Paul Wilson from ARC Greater Manchester.


Facilitating implementation through implementation research is one of the core functions of the ARCs. Implementation leads across the ARCs welcome the opportunity for informed discussions among those involved in implementation practice, research and funding around some key issues that would benefit from a coherent approach. To that end, we are organising a series of linked two-hour virtual roundtable events later this year. Each one will involve two short presentations to stimulate discussion, leading to the development of recommendations which will be collated from all four events to inform future ARC plans and strategies.

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£2bn cost of mental ill health in the North of England


A report out today by the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), ourselves NIHR ARC Greater Manchester and other northern ARCs, shows that a parallel pandemic of mental ill health has hit the North of England with a £2bn cost to the country at the same time as the COVID-19 pandemic.


Mental health in England was hit badly over the course of the pandemic. But people in the North performed significantly worse in their mental health outcomes compared to those in the rest of the country.


  • People in the North under 35 were more likely to have developed a psychiatric disorder over the course of the pandemic, an increase of 2.5% compared to a reduction of 1.3% in rest of England.


  • There was a 12% increase in the numbers of anti-depressants prescribed during the pandemic in the North. During the pandemic, people living in the North were prescribed more anti-depressants proportionately than those in the rest of England (5.3 compared to 4.3).


  • Before the-pandemic, people from ethnic minorities and those from a white British background had similar mental health scores, Over the pandemic people from ethnic minorities had a larger fall in their average mental health (1.63 points compared to 0.87) and this was greater for those of an ethnic minority in the North (a fall of 2.34 compared to 1.45 for the rest of England).


  • Women from ethnic minorities in the North had the worst mental health in the country. Their mental health scores fell by 10% at the start of the pandemic and their scores were 4% lower throughout the pandemic.


  • Mental health fell equally in the North and the rest of the country during the pandemic (5% decrease), but it recovered more quickly in the rest of the country (to 1.3% decrease) than in the North (2% decrease).


  • The report conservatively estimates the reductions in mental health in the North during the two years of the pandemic have cost the UK economy £2bn in lost economic productivity. This is £2bn more which has been lost than if the North had suffered the same mental health outcomes as the rest of the country. 


  • The gap between the lowest and highest earners increased during the pandemic and remains large. 



Report co-author Clare Bambra, Professor of Public Health at Newcastle University, said:


“These findings reiterate that the pandemic has been very unequal. People in our most deprived communities have suffered most, in terms of death rates, dying younger and in on going ill-health such as long covid. These health inequalities reflect long-term inequalities in the social determinants of health, how we live, work and age.”



Dr Luke Munford, from our NIHR ARC Greater Manchester Economic Sustaiability theme, who also co-authored the report, said:


“Our mental health is important for us as individuals but is also important to our society. We have shown, again, that the pandemic was not equal – people in the North of England fared worse. We need to act urgently to address this or these unfair inequalities will grow and as already hard hit individuals and us as a society will unfairly suffer.”



The report urges that more needs to be done to address inequalities in mental health in the North, if ‘levelling up’ is to be achieved. 


Among its key recommendations, the report’s authors are calling for an increase in NHS and local authority resources and service provision for mental health in the North, along with an increase to the existing NHS health inequalities weighting within the NHS funding formula.


Hannah Davies, Health Inequalities Lead at the NHSA and report co-author, said:


“Increased deprivation in the North of England has added to a decline in mental health in the North of England over the course of the pandemic.


“The reasons for this are many: increased time spent in lockdowns, the type of work people in the North do but the driving factor is poverty.


“To reverse these outcomes immediate action should be taken to provide funds to mental health suppliers proportionate to the need in those areas and measure to reduce deprivation – particularly as the cost of living crisis tightens its grip further on the most vulnerable.”


The report is backed by the NHSA’s mental health trust members: Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust and Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust. 


Kathryn Singh, Chief Executive of RDaSH, said:


“Our work at RDaSH is rooted in our communities and our teams have huge experience of how much impact COVID-19 has had on the mental health of those communities – the parallel pandemic. Our experience on the ground is very much borne out by the findings of report, where levels of deprivation were already high, and where the pandemic has exacerbated all the trends that were already in place.


“But I think we are in a good position to support the vital recommendations of this report, and I’m hopeful we can play our part in the innovation and vital investment needed into mental health in communities across the North, so that they can play their full part in the UK’s economy.”



Brent Kilmurray, Chief Executive of TEWV, said:


“During the pandemic we saw not only an increase in demand for our services, but an increase in acuity – with people presenting to us with more severe mental health conditions.


“We provide services in some areas of very high deprivation, and we’re working with partners from all sectors across our region to find new ways to support these communities with their mental health. Community mental health transformation is hugely important and will help to provide more joined-up care, taking a person-centred approach to find new ways to support people with mental health issues.


"We know the impact that COVID-19 has had on people’s mental health and if you feel your mental health is being affected, please seek help and support as soon as possible.”


Read a copy the ‘Parallel Pandemic’ report here


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With great power: Taking responsibility for integrated care


July 2022 sees the formal establishment of the Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) created by the Health and Care Act 2022. These bodies will integrate health and social care in England, with the aim of providing more joined-up services tailored to local needs.


However, questions remain about how ICSs will function at place-level, particularly in terms of decision making and accountability at place level. In a new blog with Policy@ Mancster, one of our NIHR ARC-GM PhD Fellows, Melissa Surgey (@MelissaSurgey) outlines how ICSs will interact with pre-existing bodies, where the gaps are in the legislation, and how policymakers in Government and the NHS can start to fill them in...


You can access the full blog from the Policy@Manchester site here

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The risk of diabetes is higher in urban parts of England than in rural areas, a recent paper shows.


Researchers from NIHR ARC-GM and The University of Manchester have identified that people living in built-up parts of England are more at risk of diabetes when compared with those living in the countryside.


A recent paper in BMJ Open, published as part of the Cities Changing Diabetes (CCD) programme for Greater Manchester, a joint working project that was funded and developed by Health Innovation Manchester and Novo Nordisk. This compared the prevalence, diagnosis, quality of care and achievement of recommended treatment targets for people with diabetes in different areas in England between 2015 and 2017 to identify gaps in the appropriate identification, management, and treatment of diabetes along the care pathway.


Diabetes risk was 7.7% higher for people living in urban parts of England when compared with those living in rural areas. A smaller proportion of those who have diabetes and live in urban areas were found to have a diagnosis recorded by a medical professional, compared with rural areas.


A smaller proportion of urban residing people with a recorded diabetes diagnosis received the appropriate care and achieve recommended treatment targets including blood pressure and blood glucose levels. However, further analyses of differences in appropriate care provided by GPs in urban and rural areas showed that they did not persist after accounting for both the differences in these populations’ characteristics such as age, ethnicity and deprivation; but also the differences in the number of nurses and GPs per patient in these areas.


Dr Tom Mason, Research Fellow in Economics at The University of Manchester and NIHR ARC-GM Evaluation Team, led the analysis.


“These results for England are consistent with international evidence on urban patterns of diabetes prevalence, diagnosis and treatment. But we also wanted to explore potential factors that explain these differences in the patterns across the care pathway in urban and rural areas.


Our analyses showed that differences between urban and rural areas in care quality and treatment targets do not persist after accounting for differences in the profile of the populations living in these areas, and importantly after accounting for differences in the workforce resources allocated to urban and rurally located general practices.


These have implications for policymakers both in terms of the appropriate targeting of public health interventions and type 2 diabetes prevention, and in ensuring that differences in the need for diabetes care is appropriately reflected when allocating resources for general practices in urban areas.”


For further information about our work as part of the Cities Changing Diabetes Manchester Programme, you can access the project page from here; you can access the Cities Changing Diabetes Manchester ‘Mapping the challenge of type 2 diabetes in Greater Manchester’ report, and the ‘Estimating the Rule of Halves in Greater Manchester’ report


The published study: Mason T, Whittaker W, Dumville J & Bower P., 2022. Variation in appropriate diabetes care and treatment targets in urban and rural areas in England: an observational study of the ‘rule of halves’ BMJ Open


*Funded by the Cities Changing Diabetes Manchester programme, a  joint working project funded by and developed in collaboration between Health Innovation Manchester and Novo Nordisk. The Cities Changing Diabetes Manchester project is part of the wider global Cities Changing Diabetes programme founded in 2014  by Novo Nordisk, University College London (UCL) and Steno Diabetes Center.


Published 04/07/2022


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New report mapping the challenge of type 2 diabetes in Greater Manchester


A new report has been published summarising new research findings and insights on the impact of type 2 diabetes in Greater Manchester.

This follows a collaborative project with industry, academic and healthcare partners, and highlights how local ethnic minority communities and an increasing number of younger people within the city region are affected by type 2 diabetes.

The report has been written, funded and distributed by Novo Nordisk, in collaboration with ourselves (NIHR ARC-GM), Health Innovation Manchester, The University of Manchester, The University of Salford, Manchester Metropolitan University, and the British Muslim Heritage Centre.


As part of the Cities Changing Diabetes (CCD) Manchester programme, this work specifically looks at the nature of type 2 diabetes in Greater Manchester, the existing initiatives that address these challenges, and how to engage the community to help develop action to address the impact of the condition. The overall aim being to provide helpful insights and recommendations for partners from across Greater Manchester, both health and care organisations, public health colleagues and wider community organisations, about how they can collectively work together to help reduce the impact of type 2 diabetes in Greater Manchester.

Greater Manchester hasjoined cities such as Copenhagen, Rome, and Shanghai as part of the Cities Changing Diabetes partnership, and was named as the twenty-first global city to join Cities Changing Diabetes in 2019.

Hare are some of the key findings and insights ftom the new published report from the Cities Changing Diabetes Manchester programme:


  • Those aged under 40, particularly men of white ethnic origin and men and individuals living in the most deprived neighbourhoods are most likely to experience under-diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
  • GP practices within Greater Manchester whose diabetes populations are younger tend to perform less well than others in terms of delivery of care and the meeting of treatment targets for their diabetes patients.
  • Those aged under 40 with type 2 diabetes feel that existing care and support is not tailored to their needs, with a sense that education courses to support self-management of their condition do not reflect their lifestyles and seem to be aimed more at older people living with the condition.


Dr Tracey Vell MBE, Clinical Director at Health Innovation Manchester, said:


“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how vital programmes such as Cities Changing Diabetes are to maintaining and improving the health of our population. During the early stages of the pandemic those living with diabetes and obesity faced a disproportionate risk of poorer outcomes, highlighting the ongoing risk of health complications associated with type 2 diabetes.


“We hope that the work undertaken during the Cities Changing Diabetes programme will further support the health and care system in Greater Manchester, as well as our research partners, to collectively tackle type 2 diabetes and reduce its impact within the city region. We at Health Innovation Manchester are enthusiastic about how this work and ongoing collaborations can develop further innovations and research to support type 2 diabetes prevention and care, with a person-centred approach, within Greater Manchester.”


Pinder Sahota, General Manager, Novo Nordisk UK, said:


“Cities are complex environments, where a number of nutritional, demographic, social, cultural and economic factors can affect people’s health. The increase in type 2 diabetes that Manchester and other cities are seeing is not inevitable, and I believe we can change its trajectory if we act now.


This work with Health Innovation Manchester and other partners through the Cities Changing Diabetes programme, will help the city region to continue its mission to tackle the societal and personal impact of this chronic condition.”

Dr Naresh Kanumilli, Diabetes Clinical Lead at Greater Manchester and Eastern Cheshire Strategic Clinical Network, said:


“As a GP working within a large general practice in South Manchester I have seen the impact that type 2 diabetes can have on the lives of those affected by the condition, but I strongly feel that we as health care providers have a lot more to learn and understand about the needs of people living with type 2 diabetes in our region. This is a priority for me.


“The Cities Changing Diabetes programme provides us with a unique opportunity to do this. I was delighted to work alongside Health Innovation Manchester to secure Greater Manchester’s involvement in the global programme, with the support of Novo Nordisk. Bringing different local partners together around the table, including those directly affected by type 2 diabetes, in a collective endeavour to address the impact of this chronic condition will be key going forward as we work to improve the health of our population.”


The full report, titled 'Mapping the challenge of type 2 diabetes in Greater Manchester' can be accessed from here


For further information about our invovlement in the Cities Changing Diabetes work please check out the project page on our website here 


Published 13/06/2022

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Two Mental Health Internship Opportunities - Applications now open!


NIHR ARC-GM are pleased to announce we are offering two paid internships within the NIHR ARC GM Mental Health theme starting this September. Our internships are specifically aimed at adult service users or informal carers living in the Greater Manchester locality who have an interest in exploring opportunities to become involved in research in the field of mental health.


Prof Karina Lovell, the NIHR ARC-GM Mental Health Theme Lead


“We’re really excited to be able to offer two paid internships this year. As a team we are very committed to involving service users and carers in our research. The flexible placements are a real opportunity for interns to learn more about research, get involved in our interesting programme of work and develop skills that they may need to reach their future goals.”


The NIHR ARC-GM Mental Health Theme works closely with the University of Manchester Mental Health Research Group which has an award-winning track record for patient and public involvement. The team have previously run several research methods courses for adult service users and carers over the past few years, with members of this course now advising on our research projects.


Through the NIHR ARC-GM we are delighted to be able to expand on this work and we are looking for two service user and/or informal carer interns to work with team flexibly over the next 2 years.


Andrew Grundy, a lived experience researcher.


"Having started my research career as a public involvement contributor, I know the value of being trained, mentored, and supported to increase confidence for involvement in research. I started out knowing very little about mental health research but knowing a lot from my personal experience as a service user. I gained the knowledge and skills to help use my experience to enhance research. This internship programme will empower and equip people to do just that."


Our internship programme will give an essential introduction to research and focus on the personal development needs of the intern. 


Application deadline: Monday 6th June at midnight.

Interviews: Week beginning 4th July 22  


Further information about the internships and details of how to apply are available here 


Published 18/05/2022


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Six studentships are available to PhD researchers undertaking projects in healthy and active ageing starting in October 2022


The studentships are being made available through a partnership between The Dunhill Medical Trust, ourselves at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration Greater Manchester (ARC-GM), The University of Manchester, and the NIHR Older People and Frailty Policy Research Unit (PRU). 


These studentships provide funding for tuition fees and a stipend for three years.


Successful PhD candidates will be integrated into the research our research culture at ARC-GM, and that of the Healthy Ageing Research Group (HARG) and NIHR Older People and Frailty PRU, as well as into the wider academic community of the University and related networks such as the Manchester Institue for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA). MICRA offers a vibrant PhD support programme open to all students researching any aspect of ageing and ageing populations.


Candidates for our studentships can choose from eight research projects, which focus on priority areas that align with our research programme and funder themes


  • Technology-assisted implementation of FaME falls prevention programme among community-dwelling older adults
  • Inequalities and digitalisation of GP services
  • Signposting to health
  • Addressing the effects of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown deconditioning
  • Addressing inactivity among older people from UK's Chinese ethnic minority
  • Frailty progression and maintaining independence to age in place
  • Co-development of a digital activity programme for older people from minority ethnic communities
  • Developing health-promoting activity in the workplace


Application deadline: 25 May 2022
Interviews: 22-24 June 2022


Further information about the 6 PhD studentships and details of how to apply are available here:

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Developing new ways of providing support to parents and carers of children with obsessive-compulsive disorder: Findings from the CO-ASSIST study


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a severe and debilitating emotional disorder that often begins in childhood.


The effect of obsessions and compulsions are not only distressing for the child experiencing them, but also for the child’s parents and carers.


Without adequate support, the role of caring for children and young people can pose a significant burden to parents and carers. 


The CO-ASSIST study was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) and supported by the Applied Research Collaboration Greater Manchester (NIHR ARC-GM). The project was hosted by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and was led by Dr Rebecca Pedley, Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, NIHR ARC-GM Mental Health Team.


The project was carried out with consultation from two national charities, OCD UK and Anxiety UK. Speaking of the project, CEO of OCD UK, Ashley Fulwood, who has been involved in planning the project from its early stages, commented:


“We now know that OCD can have a devastating impact on individuals with OCD, including children. But loved ones, especially parents of children and adolescents with OCD are often left feeling powerless to help their child.  Which is why the team at OCD-UK were fully support of this important piece of research”


During the project, researchers spoke to parents and carers of children with OCD and professionals to get a detailed understanding of parents’ support needs and preferences. Drawing on these findings, a series of interactive workshops with parents and professionals were used to identify and reach consensus on new ways to support parents and carers of children living with the condition.


Debbie Robinson, a parent with lived experience and co-researcher commented on her role within the project:


“Working as a co-researcher on this project has been a tremendously rewarding and at times gut -wrenching experience for me as a parent of a child with OCD. To give so many parents a voice to be heard and acted upon was my motivation and has been such a worthwhile job. The findings have validated so many experiences and hopefully will lead to real change in the way that OCD is perceived, and families are supported in their hugely difficult role as carers.”


The study found that the most feasible and helpful solution was an online platform containing parent and carer informed information and resources.


Once developed, the platform will help equip parents and carers to support their child, make sense of OCD and develop a shared understanding of OCD within the family. It will also help parents to consider their self-care and provide opportunities for parents to be heard.


The team have been keen to share the findings from the project with families affected by OCD and members of the public, creating an animation, a podcast and a written summary.


The animation was narrated by Ian Puleston-Davies, patron of OCD UK charity and well-known for his TV acting roles including Coronation Street and The Teacher. Discussing the importance of the project, Ian commented:


“Take it from me, it’s exhausting being a parent of a child suffering from OCD. They really do need all the help they can get. And to know you are not alone, whether you are that parent, or that child who suffers, is so incredibly important. As a patron of OCD UK, I am always looking for an opportunity to shout about OCD from the rooftops…”


The team are now working on a grant application to seek funding to develop and test the online platform.


You can view the animation and podcast, and read more about CO-ASSIST here:


Published 5th May 2022

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Free performance to raise awareness of the challenges faced by young people struggling with their mental health


Young people, parents, care professionals, and researchers are invited to a free performance to raise awareness of what it’s like for young people who struggle with their mental health. The event is set to take place at the Royal Northern College of Music on 11th May at 1:30pm, to coincide with Mental Health Week (9-15 May 2022).


The performance has been created by Manchester-based researchers at the Applied Research Collaboration Greater Manchester (ARC-GM), which is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). 


Ten young people aged between 16 and 18 were recruited by ARC-GM and have worked with not-for-profit creative organisation Made by Mortals, to create the performance. It will involve an immersive listening experience of a pre-recorded podcast written and performed by the young people, as well as music crafted by them. The podcast aims to put the audience squarely in the shoes of a young person struggling with their mental health. This will be followed by a live performance from the perspective of a caseworker from Children’s and Adolescents Mental Health Services (CAMHS).


One of the young people involved in the performance, said:


“Our podcast provides an insight into the daily thoughts and feelings that people who have a mental illness may go through. If you’ve ever known someone who has struggled with mental health or you’d like to develop your understanding of it, I’d really encourage you to come to this immersive experience.”


An interactive workshop will take place after the live monologue. Organisers believe this will be an opportunity for young people, and those involved in their care, as well as researchers, to come together and share their experiences. The experiences and suggestions shared will be combined to form a resource that will be shared widely after the event.


Prof. Karina Lovell, lead for Mental Health at ARC-GM, said:


We believe the podcast we’ve created with young people and Made by Mortals gives an accurate portrayal of the challenges faced by young people struggling with their mental health. It’s a powerful podcast and we hope it makes a difference to not only the people who come along to the live performance, but also to all the people who read the resource we’ll be creating on the day.”


The event is supported by the NIHR Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (GM PSTRC).


One of the researchers, Dr Leah Quinlivan, who leads mental health research at the GM PSTRC, said:


“We’re delighted to be involved in ARC-GM’s event to raise awareness of the challenges faced by young people struggling with their mental health. We have research underway in this area.”


Anyone interested in attending the performance can register here -


Published 22/04/2022

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Hidden LIVE: Adam's Story

Event: Event

Date: 11th May 2022

Time: 13:30-15:00

for Hidden LIVE is an immersive performance that will challenge you to encounter life as a young person struggling with their mental health. This multi-media theatre piece uses imagination and experiences of ‘real people’ and asks you to question what you can do to help.

This performance is taking place during Mental Health Awareness week 2022. The event is free and open to anyone.  Access support is available, please contact Karon Mee for more details. 

Stop. Read. Hidden. adjective. Kept out of sight, concealed. Breathe. Think.

Hidden LIVE is an immersive performance that challenges audiences to walk in the shoes of a young person struggling with mental health.

“In a few moments you will enter an avatar and become Adam. Adam’s life will become your responsibility. You will have the controls. You have the headset. Help him survive, strive even”.

Adam has just turned 18. Mum is now even more in the dark. Sean, Adam’s key worker, feels like a failure. Adam wants to be referred to adult services, will they take him?

This multi-media theatre piece uses the imaginations and experiences of ‘real people’ and asks you to question what you can do to help. “I was told we didn’t do home visits when I first came to the job, but I stood my ground and did it anyway”.

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Exploring experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and inequities in the vaccination rollout: insights from the public community involvement and engagement (PCIE) work – Stephanie Gillibrand


The onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent vaccination rollout enabled a perfect storm for exacerbating health and social inequalities. Working with colleagues from the University of Manchester and the NIHR ARC-GM we set about understanding vaccine uptake in Greater Manchester, taking into consideration area-levels of deprivation, age, geography and ethnicity. 


As part of this research, we’ve been able to access the Greater Manchester Care Record to compare flu vaccination levels in Greater Manchester to the uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine. This analysis is now complete and has been submitted for publication. 


Now this analysis provides us with statistical evidence, but it doesn’t provide any context to the numbers, nor an understanding of the social, cultural and political drivers of higher or lower uptake. Therefore, we thought it was important, especially given the highly politicised nature of the Covid-19 pandemic and the media attention around the vaccination programme, to initiate conversations with members of the public and groups that had been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, to learn from them to better understand the important issues around the vaccination programme, and the pandemic as whole.


It is crucial to the research itself and for wider understanding, as well as a priority for the research team, to ensure that the findings of the research are situated with people’s lived experiences, to contextualise the numbers and ensure the findings do not misrepresent the highly complex socio-political situation that we are currently in. 


Over the course of several months we held a number of engagement sessions; with young adults in GM, young carers, ethnic minority groups, and with individuals who have long term health conditions. Over the course of these months, the Covid-19 pandemic, the vaccination strategy and the subsequent rollout was central across mainstream media, with a constant flow of Covid-19 reports and briefings, including commentary on the success of the rollouts, eligibility of different groups, reports of side-effects etc.


This undoubtably influenced the types of topics that came up in our engagement sessions. For instance, in the earlier sessions, there was much talk around physical and logistical access issues at a time when only the regional vaccination sites were open, and discussion around the prioritisation of the first cohorts offered the vaccine. In the later sessions, discussions around safety concerns of certain vaccines, as well as vaccine passports, mandatory vaccinations and the right to choose, were much more prominently featured in discussions. This brings homes the importance of public discussion, at a time when public discourse is so fervently shaped by the media and current events. In particular, embarking on a series of engagement initiatives meant we were able to capture shifts in the publics’ view and priorities, rather than a snapshot which was influenced by prominent news stories at the time.


Whilst we had some fantastically positive engagement and interactions, and many individuals were happy to be a part of our work, there was some pushback and resistance to engage from some public contributors. This initiated thoughtful conversations amongst the team: recognising our position as researchers, working in the Biology, Medicine and Health Faculty, at a major UK university. This inevitably sends signals to those we are seeking to engage with, about our supposed biases and even our intentions as academic researchers.


Set against the backdrop of much negative media around so called ‘anti-vaxxers’, those with legitimate concerns felt that there were unable to participate for fear of vilification, or that they would be coerced into taking the vaccine through these sessions. As a result, we took steps to ensure we were creating a ‘safe-space’ platform for people to share their views and made the aims of the sessions more explicit. 


The engagement work threw up many different and striking themes - it was clear it had only scratched the surface. In partnership with our public contributors through the establishment of an Advisory Group, we have developed a standalone research component, involving interviews and focus groups, to sit alongside the statistical work. The aim of this was to build on what we had learnt in the public engagement and to delve deeper into some of the themes and issues raised. To enable us to reach diverse groups, we formally engaged a public contributor to undertake the research with us, through co-facilitating focus groups and conducting one-to-one interviews in other languages.


It was clear from our engagement work that vaccine uptake was embryonic of other factors, and that social, cultural and historical factors played a significant part in an individual’s decision to have the vaccine or not. Alongside this, of course, was the backdrop of the pandemic as a whole: the public and personal health risks, lockdown, social distancing, social isolation, furlough and redundancies etc.


It was important that we had a research workstream that could look at these areas in conjunction with each other, along with the vaccination rollout. Most importantly, we wanted to give communities most affected by the pandemic the opportunity to tell their stories and relay their experiences of the previous, unprecedented, last 18 months. Crucially, it was the engagement work that led us to this.

Written by Stepanie Gillibrand



Published 24th November 2021

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Greater Manchester (GM) Falls Management and Exercise (FaME) Programme Support Offer


The University of Manchester and partners are offering to support FaME adoption, delivery and improvement in Greater Manchester. FaME is an evidence based falls prevention intervention which includes strength and balance exercises, as well as other components of fitness and activities. It is suitable for older adults including those with a range of health conditions.


Working alongside the National FaME Implementation Team (N-FIT) and as part of the Falls Exercise Implementation (FLEXI) and Cost Analysis Research Study. The project team will be working across Greater Manchester over the coming 2 years to support the integration of the programme.


All interested Greater Manchester Localities are welcome to participate in the N-FIT offer whilst the FLEXI Research Team will work more closely with a number of GM Localities to understand and specifically improve the delivery of the FaME Programme.

If interested then an expression of Interest (EOI) Form is available HERE, to be completed by Thursday 5th May 2022.


Please contact Jason Bergen at for a further discussion or support for completing the EOI. Further information is outlined below.


What is N-FIT - The National FaME Implementation Team?

‘Enabling older people to get up, stay up and live their best lives’

The National FaME Implementation Team is a group of experts with specific knowledge on training and delivery of FaME, falls prevention pathways and policy drivers for falls prevention. They intend to:

  • update and improve the FaME Implementation Toolkit;
  • provide advice and support on delivery, evaluation and outcomes;
  • facilitate a Community of Practice for FaME instructors (PSIs), providers and commissioners. 


Please see further information HERE


What is FLEXI Falls Exercise Implementation and Cost Analysis Research Study?

In addition to the GM offer through N-FIT we also are offering additional research support to 3-5 areas over the next 18 months. The FLEXI Study aims to understand how best to increase the availability and quality of the FaME Programme in Greater Manchester (as well as in Devon and the East Midlands).  FLEXI will be working more closely with some GM Localities to:

  • Understand how FaME is currently delivered in practice
  • Develop insight into how FaME might be adapted to improve quality standards and outcomes
  • Work in new areas or with new under-serviced/marginalised populations


The FLEXI Research Team are looking for different types of FaME delivery and partners to work with in order to learn how to improve adoption and implementation of FaME more widely.


Link to FLEXI website

Additional Information here:


On Thursday 24th March 2022 the Greater Manchester Falls Collaborative Event –Evidence-Based Strength and Balance Falls Prevention focused on the Falls Management Exercise (FaME) Programme with partners. The event gave an overview of the Greater Manchester FaME Support Offer  


  • You can watch a recording of the launch event here
  • The slides from the webinar can be viewed here
  • Mapping of falls prevention activities and strength and balance delivery across Greater Manchester in 2021 fed into the “Falls Prevention in Greater Manchester – Delivering Integration and Reconditioning Report” see launch event and report here.


Published 28/03/2022

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