A letter from Kabiru Adewale Ajibola about the Public Health International Scholarship Experience: 

I am immensely grateful to Public Health International for providing me with the funding to pursue a Master of Science degree at the University of Salford. This scholarship reduced my financial pressures tremendously and allowed me to dedicate myself to excelling in my academics and research.  The scholarship gave me access to world-class faculty, research opportunities, and a rigorous public health curriculum at Salford. I gained extensive knowledge and skills in data analysis, epidemiology, health policy, leadership, and cultural competency. All of these have equipped me to drive meaningful improvements in public health practice post-graduation. Specifically, I honed my abilities to conduct statistical analysis which will help translate data into informed policies and interventions. I also refined my leadership abilities to manage collaborative public health programs. The cultural sensitivity and global outlook I developed will help me liaise and effect change in diverse communities. Most importantly, this scholarship reinforced my commitment to health equity. The emphasis on ethics and social justice in the program’s curriculum ensured I approach public health challenges through an inclusive, compassionate lens. I will continually apply this human-centered perspective to my work. Let me also apologise and acknowledge that in my excitement and focus on completing my dissertation, I failed to properly thank you in the acknowledgments section. That was an oversight on my part, and I sincerely regret not expressing my appreciation and gratitude for your support. I hope you will accept my apologies for this omission, along with the deepest thanks in this letter. 

Beyond expanding my expertise and perspectives, this scholarship also created a strong community that supported my learning and growth. The scholars came from diverse cultures and backgrounds, bringing a richness of experiences to share and learn from one another. I forged strong friendships through group projects, study sessions, and informal social gatherings with my fellow scholars. We bonded over our shared passion for public health despite our differing approaches and contexts. These relationships provided invaluable emotional support during the stresses of graduate school. My peers also connected me to professional opportunities. One introduced me to a health clinic where I could volunteer on weekends. This allowed me to gain practical experience conducting health screenings and patient education. Others invited me to collaborate on their research and papers, which strengthened my academic abilities. These meaningful connections truly enriched my graduate experience. I learned so much from my talented, socially conscious peers who constantly challenged me to grow. Our mutual understanding, encouragement, and collaboration motivated me to maximise this opportunity. 

However, one of the highlights of my MSc program was when our class took an excursion to the rural village of Eyam as part of the Training Exercise. Walking around the historic plague village with lecturers brought the sobering story to life in a profound way. Seeing the boundary stones marking the quarantine perimeter where residents sacrificed themselves to contain the 1665 plague outbreak was incredibly moving. Discussing plague containment strategies used in the 1600s versus today with lecturers throughout the excursion provided valuable perspectives. The passion and knowledge they brought made the excursion engaging and meaningful. This trip reinforced lessons from the simulation while expanding our understanding of past public health practices. Getting to explore Eyam’s story in situ rather than a classroom, facilitated by lecturers as guides, created a powerful learning experience. The excursion brought home the reality of putting public health principles into action in ways a textbook could not capture. Under our lecturers’ leadership, this immersive learning opportunity made history come alive while deepening perspectives on managing health crises. Additionally, this scholarship allowed me to forge invaluable connections. I met public health leaders working in various contexts worldwide. Interacting with them reinforced my passion. Getting their advice and mentorship also prepared me for future collaborations to improve health outcomes globally. An example of such leaders met was during our pre-reading session with Professor Rajan Madhok on 29/11/2022. The session was a memorable one that will remain indelible. These networks believe in opening doors professionally. By supporting my master’s education, this scholarship empowered my career aspirations tremendously. I am now qualified for public health roles focused on analysing trends, developing solutions, and leading impactful programs worldwide. It was a catalyst for my dreams. 

All the above achievements were the result of dedicated tutors. The lecturers I had the privilege to learn from during my MSc program truly enriched my graduate studies experience. Their extensive knowledge and passion for the subject matter brought the course content to life. Beyond academics, they also provided invaluable mentorship that stimulated my intellectual growth. I especially appreciated how approachable they made themselves, their welcoming questions, and their discussions during office hours or after class. Their guidance helped me hone critical thinking and research skills that became the foundation of my dissertation. The diversity of their backgrounds and perspectives exposed me to new ways of framing complex public health issues. Thank you, Dr Alexandra Clarke-Cornwell, for your dedication despite battling illness during my dissertation, she provided unwavering support and guidance throughout the entire process. Her extensive knowledge and passion for the subject matter enriched my graduate studies experience immensely. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for her perseverance and commitment to my growth as a researcher, even during difficult personal circumstances. Her insights and feedback propelled my dissertation to a higher level. Likewise, Dr. Anna Cooper-Ryan’s welcoming nature and approachability enabled me to frequently visit her office, sometimes even without an appointment. During these impromptu sessions, she patiently clarified concepts I struggled with and offered mentorship that stimulated my intellectual growth. Her diversity of perspectives exposed me to new ways of framing complex public health issues that became invaluable for my research. I am tremendously appreciative to have learned from such devoted lecturers and mentors who truly want students to thrive. I must also acknowledge Dr Joshua Pink for his instrumental help during my dissertation research and ethics approval stages. Joshua spent many hours guiding me through the complex ethics review process, ensuring I submitted a comprehensive ethics application that met all institutional requirements. I also want to extend my appreciation to Robyn McCarthy for her invaluable assistance in distributing my dissertation questionnaire on Twitter.  As a seasoned user of the platform, Robyn understood exactly how to effectively leverage Twitter to reach a broad, relevant audience for my research study and I was able to craft compelling tweets that resulted in a high rate of participation. Above all, let me sincerely take a moment to thank my supervisor (Dr. Anna Clark) for the support, guidance, and encouragement you have provided during my dissertation, I truly appreciate all that you have done. Working with you has been one of the highlights of my career so far. Thanks again for being a fantastic supervisor. Your guidance has shaped me into the professional I am today. I look forward to continuing working together in the years ahead. My graduate studies were enhanced by these instructors, as well as others whose names are withheld. Their constructive feedback on assignments pushed me to continuously improve the quality of my work (I cannot forget the feedback on my first assignment). Most importantly, their unwavering encouragement gave me confidence in my own abilities as an emerging public health professional. I will carry the lessons from these dedicated lecturers long after completing my postgraduate degree. Their commitment to students like myself demonstrates the immense difference that devoted educators can make in shaping the next generation. 

As I embark on my career, I am filled with a sense of purpose and self-belief – something this scholarship nurtured in me. It not only provided financial support but also helped me realise my potential to drive change. I am ready to challenge inequities and champion healthy, thriving communities locally and worldwide. Once again, thank you Public Health International for being a catalyst on this journey. I hope I have made you proud thus far and will continue to do so as I progress in this meaningful career path. I advise all prospective and aspiring students from diverse disciplines to apply to the public health profession at Salford University and make use of the Public Health International Scholarship. This will equip you with the expertise and connections to create your desired impact globally. You have boundless potential to unlock. In closing, I am incredibly thankful to have been part of the Public Health International Scholar community. It has shaped me both professionally and personally into a leader ready to improve health outcomes worldwide. The lessons, competencies, perspectives, and connections gained will stay with me throughout my career. I cannot wait to pay forward the same empowering support as an alumnus. 


Salford Celebrates the 75th Birthday of the NHS

By Lydia Kofoworola (MSc Public Health Student)

The 75th anniversary of the NHS was celebrated throughout the United Kingdom, and Salford was no exception. The school of Health and Society celebrations began with a brief introductory speech followed by a fascinating journey through the timeline of the NHS’s evolution, from the pre-1900s to the 1900s, the millennium, and projections for the future.

At lunchtime, the five winners of the NHS stories were announced then guests could enjoy very British refreshments of tea and ice cream. At around 1:15 pm, we heard from several NHS staff members. They expressed their pride and privilege in being part of the NHS, discussed how the NHS has evolved over the years, and highlighted the vast employment opportunities it has provided.

The most memorable part of the celebration was the personal stories of how the NHS has impacted individual lives. A variety of adjectives were used to describe personal experiences with this healthcare system. It was heartening to hear that most of these experiences were positive. Among the many words used to describe the NHS were “sensitive,” “respectful,” “dignified communication,” “supportive,” “touching,” “caring,” “tireless,” “support groups,” “love,” “care,” “compassion,” “commitment,” “dedication,” “effortlessly,” “sincerity,” “advice,” “lifeline,” “invaluable support,” “unwavering dedication,” “tireless effort,” “exceptional care,” “gentle touch,” “comforting words,” “kindness,” and “outstanding care.” The NHS has successfully fulfilled its mission statement of providing care and services that individuals and their families would want to use.

Not only do people rely of the services of the NHS, but they also aspire to be part of the team that passionately and compassionately improves the health and lives of citizens. This aspiration is evident in the stories of individuals who gained self-awareness and confidence about their future through their encounters with the NHS.

In a nutshell, the NHS is not just about systems and equipment; it’s about people. It’s about the nurses, doctors, therapists, care and support workers, pharmacists, administrators, and many others who work tirelessly every day to improve, empower, transform, and save lives. They are the ones who have shaped the NHS into what it is today, and any celebration would be incomplete without acknowledging their tremendous contributions to the health of the nation.

Here’s to 75 remarkable years and many more to come!

“Antimicrobial Resistance: A Chronicle of Laughter, Learning, and Intellectual Adventurers”

In today’s interconnected world, global health challenges of the 21st century require collaborative efforts from diverse teams this was no different for our group as we set out to identify and address a pressing health concern by harnessing our collective strengths and resources. Grab your explorer’s hat and buckle up, as we take you on a wild ride through the exhilarating world of global health challenges! Our team of daring adventurers set out on a mission to tackle a formidable health foe, armed only with our wits, resourcefulness, and a healthy dose of humour. Read on to discover how our fantastic group turned the complex issue of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) into an engaging, memorable presentation.

The intellectual quest began as each team member searched the far reaches of the internet to unearth potential global health challenges of the 21st century. We tossed our findings into a dedicated WhatsApp group, igniting enthusiastic discussions and sparking friendly rivalries. In the end, we held a vote to decide the most fearsome health enemy worth fighting, and AMR emerged as the victor, but our journey had just begun.

 It was time to assemble our research army, with our target locked; we devised a battle. The topic was divided into sections to ensure the marking criteria were addressed with each member enlisted in a research squadron, ready to charge into their designated battleground. After braving the frontlines of research, we regrouped and assembled our treasure trove of information into a single Word document. Our band of intrepid explorers scrutinized the document, offering words of wisdom and encouragement to refine our presentation’s narrative arc. We had just figured out the great puzzle.

Throughout the journey, our motley crew held biweekly meetings to exchange ideas, stories, and hearty laughter. When distance threatened to separate us, we relied on trusty Microsoft Teams and WhatsApp to bridge the gap, ensuring we never lost sight of our shared goal because staying connected was necessary for the victory ahead. You can call us the Chatty Adventurers’ Club.

Every great adventure story has a wise mentor, and ours was no exception. We crossed paths with Cathy and Anna, who bestowed upon us valuable insights and enchanted tips for creating a captivating presentation. Their pearls of wisdom and practical guidance illuminated their path, paving the way for our next crucial task – transforming raw data into a captivating slideshow. We left the encounter wiser and more prepared for the challenges ahead. Pro-tip, always listen to the Sage’s advice.

Under the soft glow of the Beehive room, we huddled around our laptops, weaving together a tapestry of PowerPoint slides as we pooled our talents to transform our data into a visual extravaganza, a masterpiece. This was an experience we will not be forgetting soon as we stayed at the beehive till 9 pm with our tired eyes, and weary feet but determined mind, a fun and enlightening adventure.

The PowerPoint slides were divided into five thrilling acts, with the final speaker taking the spotlight to reveal our climactic recommendations – a crucial element of our presentation’s grand finale. We were opportune to get expert advice from Fatma, the language advisor.

As the curtain rose on our performance, we practised our roles individually and as an ensemble, using Microsoft Teams, in-person sessions, and even summoning the aid of the library team. Our combined efforts honed our presentation to perfection, ensuring that each member was ready to dazzle the audience- the final showdown. The hard work and commitment paid off as we passed the presentation with flying colours.

So, dear readers, our thrilling tale of camaraderie, humour, and triumph ends. Our team’s heroic efforts produced an awe-inspiring, entertaining presentation on the formidable issue of AMR – proving that even the most daunting global health challenges can be conquered when we work together with a smile on our faces. Stay safe, take care and away from antibiotic abuse.

Our journey would not have been the same without the unique contributions of each team member.


Becky, our research wizard, ventured into the vast ocean of knowledge, always returning with precious pearls of information. Her sense of humour was our anchor, defusing all tension.

 Dami, our organizational guru, provided structure to our chaos. Her creative ideas were like sparks, igniting trails of innovation and inspiring us to think outside the box.

Festus brought versatility and intuitiveness to the table. He would adapt to any situation, intuitively filling in gaps. Like a Swiss army knife, ready to tackle any challenge that came our way.

Florence, our presentation maestro, with skills so impeccable they left us in awe every time. Her warm spirit was infectious, spreading positivity like a gentle breeze on a summer day. Honeybelle, our group’s generous heart and mind. Her intelligence permeated our work, while her generous sharing of snacks kept us fuelled and energized during long meetings. Altogether, we were more than just a group; we were a well-oiled machine, a unique blend of skills and personalities, and a perfect team.

Finally, adding to our vibrant mix, we had Dayo – an unofficial member of the presentation team, yet very much part of the collective process. His quips and antics had us rolling with laughter, providing the perfect icebreaker during intense sessions and not to forget our little research assistant-Nathan.

Compiled by:  Becky, Dami, Festus, Florence and Honeybelle.

Parenting and studying made easy using the library 

Postgraduate studies can be very stressful and challenging with a lot of, academic demands from group presentation, to essay writing and research work; social demands of meeting and relating with new people such as students, tutors, and advisors; financial demands; and psychological demands such as transitioning from being dependent academically to being independent. These challenges can be heightened if you have a young child to look after. Therefore, any opportunity that makes life easy is appreciated. 

In my home country, it is quite easy to find someone to look after your child. Your relative, mum, dad, or sibling would be happy to do that. If that’s not an option, employing a nanny is pretty cheap and affordable and nurseries aren’t expensive, depending on your budget. However, here in the UK, everyone is working, both night and day, and so even if you have relatives here, which I don’t, their schedules might not be flexible, and getting a childminder or putting your child in a nursery is indeed an investment. Therefore, having a facility that helps parents and their children is a need indeed. A facility that helps the parent to study as well as keeps the child busy, creating a kind of passive bonding and helping the parent save some money. This is more than a gift. A study room in the library provided for parents and children at my university, the University of Salford. I termed it ‘’Parenting and Studying made easy using the library.’’ 

Enjoying the parenting space at Clifford Whitworth Library, University of Salford

My child is a very active 3 years old girl. She likes to sing, play with toy cars- especially fire trucks like she sees in paw patrol- explore, climb, scribble, be read to, give hugs, and like most other children, she also likes to watch a lot of children shows, both for education and pleasure. Therefore, it’s easy to keep her busy under supervision. But then she gets bored with one activity after a while, and this can be frustrating. Also, she would choose to go out than stay indoors so taking a stroll is always an option. However, when I think of places to take her back in my home country, the library never crosses my mind because I really can’t remember if children her age had access to the library or even had sections dedicated for their age in the library. Hence it was fascinating to see that libraries in this part of the world have sections dedicated to children with activities to encourage the use of the library by these young ones and their parents. I and my husband took advantage of this facility and have been taking our girl to the library on Mondays for the book club. She even has a library card that she picked out herself to borrow books from the library. How interesting! Therefore, when I told her we were going to my uni library on this day, she had an idea of what I meant.

The parent study room, room 9, is on the first floor of the Clifford Whitworth library at the peel park campus of the university. It is well equipped with a system, swivel and conference chairs, a circular conference table, a projector facility, crayons, colouring books, puzzles for different ages, and storybooks. Also, it is well-lit and warm. The first thing that fascinated my child was the truck which she spent a good number of minutes playing with, she had a session of coloring, and then she settled in on watching educative and singing shows like jolly phonics, alpha blocks, and nursery rhymes. The watching period was my study time because then I knew she was comfortable. Even though I had to look at her every so often to make sure she was doing ok, give her a snack when it was snack time, and supervise her for lunch

For me, this facility was needed because my daughter was not yet in a nursery and we had not gotten a house of our own. Therefore having to study at home came with some distractions such as house chores and noise. However, I had fewer of these distractions in the library and could better manage my time. The facilities in the room helped reduce my child as a form of distraction to the nearest minimum and I was able to achieve something meaningful in the short period I spent there.
Finally, I would like to say a thank you to the university administration for their thoughtfulness for the parent-child cohort in the university.

Like Lagos, Like Salford

By Damilola Mustafa

I start with the phrase ‘Like Lagos, Like Salford’, but in the real sense of every word, these two cities are two worlds apart. I will give you insight into what I mean.

I started my MSc in Public Health in September at the University of Salford. It has been a worthwhile journey coming to such a different place. I am Nigerian and I grew up in Lagos, a busy city in Nigeria. Lagos is a mega city with the hustle and bustle spirit bubbling through everyone you see. A fast-paced setting where you either go hard or go home, a city whose mantra is ‘No sleeping on a bicycle in Lagos’. The yellow and black buses are a trademark sight, it is this and the noise that makes the city come alive as people are up and running for their daily activities. I miss the communal spirit in my home city, where your business seems like everyone’s concern. The street meals are the best. It is not uncommon to drive around Lagos and smell the aroma of street food, from our national delicacy-Jollof rice to the roadside snacks of roasted corn and coconut, having a feel of home while on the street is a wonderful sight to behold. The rhythm of the city is made up of the honks from impatient drivers, the noise from agitated bus passengers and the loud music blasting from the roadside vendors trying to make some money for the day. In all Lagos is home to many and owned by none. While Lagos is a must-see, the traffic is so tiring as everyone is in a hurry to get to nowhere.

Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge, Lagos

Unlike my home city Lagos, Salford, is a serene environment. There is no litter hanging around with lush green spaces and ancient buildings that hold a lot of history behind their walls. Everyone is polite with a smile on their face, signposts everywhere you turn diminishing the anxiety that comes with being in a new environment. The transport system is efficient and remarkable, and everyone obeys the traffic stops. However, it can feel lonely here as everyone seems to mind their business, this is the opposite of the communal life I am used to in Lagos. Thus, it is very important that international student’s network and make friends, as no man is an island. I soon discovered that Salford residents were incredibly kind, both in and out of the institution, making new friends from all parts of the country, learning new skills with each lecture, and having lecturers and personal tutors who care and understand the students is the gift that keeps on giving. Furthermore, getting to know the history of the city through the art in the Salford Museum was an interesting experience for me. 

I was very worried about being bored and becoming isolated in a new city. I know it is not uncommon for international students to worry about the social aspects of school, but the academic aspects were equally getting to me. I remember thinking to myself, everyone in class seems more advanced than I am. I studied Biochemistry for my bachelor’s and moving into public health after a few years of studying seemed like I was barking up the wrong tree. A few weeks into lectures, I got a better understanding that I had a lot to contribute and that is why I am here, this understanding boosted my morale, and changed my outlook and approach to my course. Assessments are given at a good time, so you don’t miss out on the extra-curricular activities, we are also encouraged to get involved in the student union and other activities such as the international café where other international students come to socialise.

The best part of 2022 for me was being accepted into the master’s programme in public health here at The University of Salford, I look forward to seeing what the future holds for me in 2023.

“For me, stepping out of my own country and culture I was like a fish out of water”

By Umm E Arbab

Hello everyone! My Name is Umm E Arbab, and I am currently studying MSc public health and I came from Pakistan. The main reason I took the important decision to study at the University of Salford was to explore studying internationally and to become a qualified professional, who can really make a difference to people’s lives. When I arrived here I was honestly blown away by it. Coming to Salford was my big dream. I was scared because moving to new place is a daunting task and starting a new career is an exciting challenge. Being away from home can be difficult for international students. However, a good environment can help the student adjust to this new chapter of life. 

On my first day, I was nervous, but on campus I was greeted by friendly student host staff who guided me and taught me about the campus. I was pleased by the welcome week and all the events related to it like the campus tour, live music and games, where I met plenty of people and enjoyed free fairground rides, popcorn, and more. On the induction day, I met my tutors, all of whom are friendly and helpful, and who are always willing to assist us and answer our questions in person and via email. I was impressed to see wide diversity of students from other countries. Fortunately, I have found have some wonderful friends to chat with.

One of the first things I noticed after few weeks in the university that we are given a support from teachers and have an assigned personal tutor for every student. If you are confused or depressed about a particular assignment or exam, don’t be afraid to seek assistance. They are always ready to help us. Sharing my experience, my university organised a career fair event where we could meet different employers for better job opportunities. There is so much to get involved in. The School of Health and Society organise a free field trip to Eyam Village in Derbyshire (see previous post). We had a very informative walking tour of the village, which is delightful in its own right. Moreover, during Academic writing skill section, my tutor allows us to discuss the topic with all other classmates and with them, obviously in a mutually respectful way. I think this is great as it teaches us how to use these skills to write assignments. Even the way learning is assessed is very varied and practical.

One of the things I find most interesting is the university’s faith centre, which provides spiritual support to students regardless of their beliefs. It is a great opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds. For me, stepping out of my own country and culture I was like a fish out of water. However, thanks to the public health department team, all my tutors, and the university’s friendly environment, I now feel less homesick. During these past two months I have learned much about life, writing skills, new languages and opportunities.

I was nervous about getting around Manchester because I had never used public transportation before moving to the UK. But Salford crescent Station is located right between Peel Park and Fredrick Road campuses and I can easily take the bus home.

To round off this blog, I would like to tell you that coming to Salford is my best decision; it feels more like home now for me. The “ASK US” department is the best place to ask any questions regarding your personal or accommodation needs. So, folks, do not worry; every international student has anxiety and depression at first, but keeping yourself motivated is key to success.

Thank you for reading.


By Kikelomo Folashade

Hidden in Hope Valley of Derbyshire is a town called Eyam Village also known as the ‘plague’ village. Once upon a time in the 16th Century the village of Eyam was plagued by the Bubonic bacterium which caused the death of numerous members of households and even the separation of loved ones as in the case of two young lovers Emmott Sydall who originally lived in Eyam and her lover Roland Torre who was from Stony Middleton a neighboring village. This was also the case for the Vicar of Eyam: Reverend Williams Mompesson, who also served as the Rector of the Village at the time who had to tell His children to leave Eyam with their mother .The wife of the Vicar, Catherine Mompesson refused to leave and with the act of bravery chose to stay and help provide care for the plagued, she cared for the sick and plagued for a while before she also succumbed to the grips of this plague close to the end of the plague period and died. 

The Post graduate students of the Department of Public Health (2022) Visited this village of Eyam to understand the experience of the People of Eyam as well as the measures and processes they implored to survive and care for the plagued in a time when health care was not as developed as it is today, of which I was one of. 

Our first stop was at the Chatsworth house which is a palatial environment in contrast to the other part of Derbyshire, Chatsworth is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The Chatsworths were a rich family in Derbyshire that provided alms and food to the people of Eyam to prevent them from coming out of the village in search for food, The Chatsworth went as far as paying other towns and people around just so they could provide for the people of Eyam to prevent them coming out of the village. 

After leaving Chatsworth we then arrived at Eyam ‘the plagued village’.  

The bravery and heroic nature of the People of Eyam is commendable as their pro-active measures used in preventing and trying to curb the spread of the plague was effective. There were documented proofs of how some families like the Hancock family isolated themselves up in the Riley wood to prevent contracting the plague from the infected people which although did not happen because one of the younger children went out to play with an infected kid and brought the plague home to the parents and siblings. All the children died as well as the father, but the mother survived, and she buried them all and identified each with markings on stones as head stones in the place that is now known as the Riley graves. The mother was the only survivor of the family, she moved out of the village after the plague ended in search of a new beginning. 

Learning about this plague helped us to relate various parts of Evidence based Public health to some of the things we learned, such as the inequalities seen where the rich could isolate themselves easily like the Hancock family did, compared to families like the Thorpes where they all died in the Rose cottage where 9 of them including Thomas Thorpes’s parents who lived with them, the experience was also an insight to what Epidemiology will look like when we begin the course fully. 

We also saw in the Hadfield home where it all began, where the tailor’s assistant George Viccars who brought Flea infected clothing from London where the plague had already taken the lives of many people, everyone in the home of the Hadfield died except from the mother. At the Eyam museum we saw where it was recorded that these people who survived didn’t die not because they didn’t have the plague but because they had a mutated version of the plague which didn’t kill them, but back in the 16th centuries this was not known to the people they assumed it was because the women took to wearing face shields and drinking pork potions and the men took to smoking that prevented these ones from dying.

One thing for sure is that public health has always played an important role even before it was defined as “Public Health”. The People of Eyam were able to effectively curb the plague because they took adequate preventive measures such as quarantine, isolation, burying their dead in their gardens as opposed to carrying them to the church to bury which could have caused a spread in the plague, also they took to some sanitizing methods by using vinegar to wash their money to avoid spread of the plague, even though they didn’t know washing the coins with vinegar was actually them sanitizing the money.

The students were tasked with a game to make presentations on what they saw, learned and how it related to public health today.

All the groups did an amazing job at presenting what they learned through the trip with charts and some flip cards. Experiencing Eyam was also a great bonding experience for us students and to get to know some of our academic staff better.  

It was all together a fun experience; I would recommend Eyam as a place to add to your travel bucket list. 

Designing and evaluating a nutrition intervention to improve the health and wellbeing of construction workers, by PhD student Magdalena Wronska

Eating and food are important to people and a relationship between nutrition, health and wellbeing has been well established. Work is a source of social contact and prestige, as well as providing economic opportunities to pursue healthy choices, while work cultures, schedules, and patterns have a major impact on our eating behaviours. My PhD study explores nutrition knowledge and behaviour amongst construction workers in the UK. This is of particular importance, given that approximately 7% of the UK workforce are employed in the construction industry, and also the high level of work-related ill health in this group. Additionally, in construction, long working hours, high pressure working environments, remote site locations and long commutes make healthy food choices challenging.

This project is the first UK study exploring the effectiveness of a workplace intervention on nutrition knowledge and behaviour amongst employees in the construction industry. For my PhD, which is supervised by Dr Margaret Coffey and Dr Anna Robins, I am designing, developing and evaluating a participatory nutrition intervention, with the purpose of improving the health and wellbeing of construction workers. The first (exploratory) phase of the project, informed the next phases, including the questionnaire development, and intervention design. Focus groups with construction workers and managers took place on three different sites exploring their nutritional practices and eating habits, as well as to identify barriers and facilitators to healthy nutritional choices in the workplace. I investigated perceptions of current health strategies and ways to facilitate healthy nutritional choices amongst construction workers.

Photo by Arron Choi on unsplash

These are some of the things that construction workers told me during my research, which illustrate some of the challenges of achieving a healthy diet for workers in this industry:

“They’ll pick up the fizzy drink or an energy drink. So you smash an energy drink, I’ve seen it on other sites, up the river, people don’t even have lunch sometimes, they’ll just have an energy drink just to get through the day, which, yes, that’s suits me but it’s just full of sugar, it’s absolutely packed”

“I’ll maybe go to the Grub’s Up van that comes around and get rice and chicken covered with cheese. It tastes good, but I know it’s slowly killing me”

“By the time I get home I really can’t be bothered cooking”

“If we’re in B&Bs, which several of us have been at various times over this project, there’s nowhere to store food, no fridges or microwaves”

Understanding social media Relationships and Sex Education in a UK context – By Lisa Garwood-Cross

Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) has been on the UK Governments agenda since Ofsted, the schools regulator, released a report in 2013 titled ‘Not Good Enough Yet: PSHE in schools’i. The report identified that RSE required improvement in a third of primary schools and half of secondary schools visited, with too much emphasis in secondary schools being placed on the mechanics of reproduction, and too little on relationships, the influence of pornography, emotions and understanding healthy sexual relationships. In response to this, the UK Government announced an amendment to the Children and Social Work bill to make RSE compulsory in all secondary schools for the first time, alongside the updating of the statutory teaching guidelines that schools must follow. Following a period of consultation with young people, parents, schools and public health organisations these new guidelines were revealed in 2019 and became compulsory from the 2020/2021 school year which is just now drawing to a close. However last month Ofsted released a rapid review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges that has once again brought Relationships and Sex Education to the forefront. The latest report gives a worrying insight into sexual harassment and assault between young people, and highlights that these issues are far more prevalent than adults may be aware, with girls disproportionately affected. Young people were asked if various types of harmful sexual behaviours happened ‘a lot’ or ‘sometimes’ between people their age. 88% of girls and nearly 49% of boys identified that being sent explicit videos between people their age happened ‘a lot’ or ‘sometimes’, meanwhile 80% of girls and 40% of boys expressed that being put under pressure to provide sexual images of themselves was common. The report also raised concerns of the taking and circulation of photographic or video content between young people without consent. In addition, 64% of girls and 24% of boys reported that unwanted touching happened ‘a lot’ or ‘sometimes’ between people their age, 68% of girls and 27% of boys expressed that feeling pressured to do sexual things they did not want to happened ‘a lot’ or ‘sometimes’, and sexual assault of any kind was noted by 70% of girls and 38% of boys.

Because of this, young people were not happy with the quality of RSE they received and frequently looked elsewhere, as the report states:

Children and young people were rarely positive about the RSHE they had received. They felt that it was too little, too late and that the curriculum was not equipping them with the information and advice they needed to navigate the reality of their lives. Because of these gaps, they told us they turned to social media or their peers to educate each other, which understandably made some feel resentful. As one girl put it, ‘It shouldn’t be our responsibility to educate boys‘.”ii

This report raises significant concerns about RSE not serving the needs of young people, leaving teenagers unprepared for navigating the terrain of relationships and sex. In response to the report the PSHE association called regular RSE lessons vital, saying; ‘we don’t expect pupils to learn algebra or the Norman Conquest via assemblies or awareness days; why should we expect it with consent & respectful relationships?’iii.

Here at the University of Salford, my PhD research is investigating the role that social media RSE content on YouTube plays for young people in seeking and sharing information about relationships and sex. The focus is on understanding the role of the social media influencers who create this content, if they can act as health influencers and if the peer-sharing of this content between young people is a form of peer-education process. The Ofsted report findings suggest young people are already looking to social media and peers to fill voids in their education on sex and relationships, therefore this study provides a closer look at this phenomenon. Health information on YouTube is largely unregulated and in light of the misinformation epidemic on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic there is renewed need to interrogate sources of health information and understand how public health organisations can better partner with social media influencers to provide high-quality digital resources that meet the information needs of young people. Want to be a part of shaping this research?

We are currently recruiting young people aged 13-18 to give their opinions on Social media, influencers and how they seek and share RSE information through an anonymous short 10-minute online survey – the link to the survey is https://salford.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/digital-sre-survey

i OFSTED (2013). Not yet good enough: Personal, social, health and economic education in schools. [online] Ofsted. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/370027/Not_yet_good_enough_personal__social__health_and_economic_education_in_schools.pdf [Accessed 06/07/2021].

ii OFSTED (2021). ‘Review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges’. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-of-sexual-abuse-in-schools-and-colleges/review-of-sexual-abuse-in-schools-and-colleges. [Accessed: 06/07/2021]

iii PSHE Association (2021) ‘Ofsted: Harassment rife in schools and RSE given insufficient priority‘ Available at: https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/news-and-blog/blog-entry/ofsted-harassment-rife-schools-and-rse-given [Accessed: 06/07/2021]

Late diagnosis of HIV in women in Greater Manchester, by Sheree Powell (MSc Public Health 2021)

When I started the Public Health Masters programme, I knew that I was going to do my dissertation on a sexual health related issue. Working in sexual health for several years I knew there were a few issues that needed research. One such topic that concerned me was the low HIV screening uptake from women had taken priority.  The issue seemed small because it had never been discussed during meetings or conferences that I had been to or watched, until I found a document that confirmed that women feel marginalised in HIV related care. The report was named ‘Invisible no longer’ and was authored by the Sophia Forum and Terrance Higgins Trust (2018). It helped me to brainstorm: (1) the aim of my dissertation; (2) how I wanted to collect the data; and (3) who I wanted to interview. During this time, I felt I won a quarter of the battle as I gradually searched for relevant details to eventually discuss with my supervisor.

A few months before any dissertation-related work was required, the lecturers organised a visit from Salford City Council public health to identify: (1) who has a project that may be helpful to them (2) provide a project or idea to those who did not have one. I liked the fact the lecturers were getting the class involved in work that could be used externally, as well as a chance to work with an organisation.

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

I remember being excited to start my project as I watched my idea develop over the weeks and months before even writing the first line of my literature review! My aim was to identify the barriers and facilitators of women testing for HIV outside of maternity services in the UK, since evidence demonstrated women were not screening for HIV as much as men, nor were they being offered the test as frequently. Witnessing the lack of HIV testing for women first hand, I had a feeling it could be a result of a mixture of things such as the lack of HIV health promotion for women or women having a low perception of HIV risk as well as stigma. I really wanted to collect evidence to understand why women had such a low testing uptake, but to get there I knew I needed to speak to women who were HIV positive and I knew that could be a challenge since women are rarely approached for HIV related research.

Photo by Joel Muniz  on Unsplash

Understanding what I wanted to achieve was one thing but putting a project together was another! This is why a supervisor is very important. Your supervisor will help you to structure your project to maximise data collection as well as ideas and providing you with the necessary support you need. Don’t forget the library can help you with using journal databases so you can expand your search terms! I found that service incredibly helpful as I tried to focus on research from western countries.

Writing my dissertation started during COVID-19. Working on the frontline I now attempted to balance university work, home life (what was left of it) and work. It was incredibly hard and my headspace was all over the place. My supervisor and the university were incredibly supportive during this time and I am very thankful. As the first wave passed it was time to collect data and I ended up hitting a few hurdles for a number of reasons, but I had my supervisor to support me during this process and I was keen to understand the complexities of women testing for HIV kept    me going.

Finishing the project I could not be more proud of myself, especially completing it in such an uncertain time! I never felt unsupported. Some of my classmates became friends and we supported each other. One thing I was ecstatic about is sending my report to the Sophia Forum and receiving feedback! That is rewarding in itself!  In the end my project did not continue with Salford Council as COVID-19 erupted, but It did not stop me from sending my report to organisations who I felt who be interested to read my findings. I gained further feedback from them also, which ended up being submitted to an All Party Parliamentary Group HIV testing inquiry! Mega happy! Coming to the end of my blogging time, I want to say If you already have a project in mind in the early days of the course (1) brain dump as much things as possible (OneNote helped me to organise my brain chaos) and (2) gradually search for relevant things, at this stage you don’t have to worry about narrowing it down; just have an understanding of the topic, find out if it has been researched already and think about what your project could do differently (if it has previously been researched). Later on in the course you can discuss your project with your supervisor, where you can begin to narrow your ideas if necessary. Some things you may keep and others you may not, but what you have may form a framework for your dissertation, which can be half of the battle—well maybe a quarter of the battle! If you do not have a project I would recommend to find something that will keep your interest! There may be times when you do not want to write and it may sound cliché but my passion kept me going!