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  • Writer's pictureHeather Pierpoint

Spreading the Message

Our team spent a wild four days at Wickham Festival - standing in every weather imaginable to spread the #BePartOfResearch message.


The event takes place every August in fields near the Hampshire village of Wickham, and has its roots in folk and traditional music. The Guardian lists Wickham as a top “family friendly boutique festival” and local people agree - more than 7,000 attend every year.


To create an eye-catching display, we transformed our research bus into the perfect festival pitch. Bunting, artificial grass, fairy lights, sail flag, giant deckchair - you name it, we had it! If that wasn’t enough to catch people’s attention, we also offered glitter tattoos and a complimentary wave of our blue sponge hands.


By far the greatest draw was our oversized selfie frame which we hiked around the site, encouraging people to have their photo taken. This went down a storm and generated fantastic images to use across our social media.


For anyone who signed up to www.bepartofresearch.nihr.ac.uk there was a free tote bag filled with information and goodies.



Ideal Opportunity to spread the message


Music festivals are popular with people of all ages and attract interest from across communities,” explains Clare Rook, Chief Operating Officer of Wessex Clinical Research Network. “People have the time to stop and chat and they’re in a relaxed frame of mind - so this seemed the ideal opportunity to spread awareness of the health and care research underway in the Wessex area.


“We’ll be monitoring the data over the next couple of weeks to assess the event’s impact in driving sign ups. Joining the #BePartofResearch register is the best way to hear about our health and care research studies, and mail outs are tailored to people’s interests, illnesses and conditions.”


The idea to take our research bus to a music festival was dreamed up by Kirsty Gladas, Senior Research Nurse Manager. She gathered research nurses, Midwives, clinical trial assistants and other helpers to ensure we had enough wellies on the ground. It was a fantastic team building exercise and has given us many ideas moving forward.


What we do is very important and has a serious side - health and care research transforms and saves lives,” Kirsty said. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun promoting the message about taking part. Every study relies on people coming forward and we were amazed how receptive everyone was to this idea. So many people were happy to stop and talk to us - they went away understanding what we offer and feeling inspired - despite the rain and mud!


New ideas for the future


Clinical Trials Assistant Michelle Just ran the project from start to finish. “I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished with this venture. I had a vision for how we could transform the bus, and it all came together beautifully. I’m so proud of how everyone got on board with the idea, and loved seeing the public responding so well to our offer.


Our team is now developing a programme of outreach events. We want to meet and engage with more of our local communities, spread the word and continue to boost the ongoing #BePartofResearch campaign.

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