In 2022 the following awards were made as part of the University of Leeds Engaged fo Impact Awards:
Building partnerships and networks
This award recognises the importance of partnerships and networks to bring about change. It seeks to recognise the development of sustained collaborations with external organisations. The focus is on developing shared objectives and linking engagement activities across organisational boundaries towards a common impact goal.
Winning project: Building networks with supermarkets to assess healthy and sustainable consumer diets.
Team members: Dr Michelle Morris, Dr Victoria Jenneson, Dr Stephen Clark, Diogo Ann Onuselogu, Alexandra Dalton, Francesca Pontin, Hannah Skeggs, Becky Shute, Paul Evans and Dr Emily Ennis.
We continue to be driven to deliver impact through making healthy and more sustainable diets more accessible. Given the complexity of the food system, networks and partnerships are essential to driving change and therefore inherent to our ways of working. In order to increase the potential to unlock impact through networks and partnerships, we used our prize money in two ways.
Firstly, we have convened a workshop:
“Encouraging Healthy and Sustainable Diets through Cross-Sectoral Partnerships”
which was hosted at the University on the 18th July 2023. Delegates attended from across our networks, specifically academics, industry representatives and policy makers, to discuss what working in partnership means, with view to generating information for others to use when growing their own networks or working in partnership. This workshop was run alongside an independent company ‘NiftyFox’ who live scribed the workshop and created two infographics/illustrations from the event. These resources will support our future communication for partnership ways of working and be accessible to others. Live scribing is the real time illustration of the workshop discussion to capture key messages and the coproduction of best practice ways of working. This resource created will be shared widely.
You can read more about the workshop and the see the outputs here.
Early career colleague bursaries to support networking and partnership building
Secondly, we have made available two types of bursary for early career colleagues to grow their networks: these were for i) colleagues at associated with the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) at Leeds and ii) colleagues external to the CDRC and University of Leeds. The bursary was available for travel and fees associated with the Inaugural Digital Footprints 23 conference at the University of Bristol.
This conference was born from an Interest Group at the Alan Turing Institute (ATI) co-led by Prof Michelle Morris (Leeds) and Dr Anya Skatova (Bristol). The ATI is an important partner of the University of Leeds and these bursaries made engagement and networking with the ATI and other ATI partners accessible to many more colleagues. Given the emerging eminence of Digital Footprints, and Novel Data Linkage for Health (the Interest Group name) and its relevance in the area of healthy and sustainable diets this was an important step to support capacity building within the field and ensure that early career colleagues who have had limited networking opportunities due to the pandemic were supported here to make connections. Conference delegates included representation from academia, industry, policy and funding organisations.
Tamara Garcia del Toro, Data Scientist on the LIDA Data Science Development Programme said this about the event:
“By presenting my work and seeing other’s research at this Digital Footprints conference I have been able to see the extent of the importance of routinely collected data through our digital lifespans. Most importantly, this conference has allowed me to build relationships with other researchers using similar digital footprints data and use their feedback to improve my own methods and interpretations, I look forward to seeing them again next year!“
Runners-up: IPEN – networking across the world to enhance democratic engagement.
Team members: Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira, Zoe Backhouse, Nick Caley, Derek Dignam, Dr Sarah Moulds, Dr Nicole Nisbett, Temitayo Odeyemi, Dr Naomi Paxton, Alex Prior and Elise Uberoi.
The prize acknowledged IPEN’s achievements in collaboration, achieving shared objectives, and working across institutional boundaries. Between then and now, our network has moved inches higher, deepening activities and enhancing its impacts in many areas of public engagement with parliaments across many countries. The prize supported us in making these achievements.
Our expansion has covered the areas of input, processes, and output. In terms of input, IPEN has expanded considerably, moving from just over 250 members mid-2022 to nearly 350 members in mid-2023, with even more subscribing to our monthly newsletters. Beyond numbers, our membership now covers 56 countries, from all continents of the world. The executive team which oversees IPEN’s operations has also expanded considerably, now having 15 members – a mixture of researchers and practitioners from Europe, Australasia, the Americas, and Africa.
In terms of processes, our collaboration with the Interparliamentary Union (IPU) – the international organisation of parliaments – through co-hosting a new global Public Engagement Hub - continues to gain strength, enabling us to plan and collaborate on activities with far wider impacts, as seen in the volume of – and engagement with – seminars over the past year.
In terms of output, IPEN facilitated 15 international seminars between July 2022 and July 2023, 10 of which were through the Public Engagement Hub and 4 within the IPEN community. The seminars covered many areas of public engagement with parliaments – digital engagement, inclusion and diversity, broadcasting, maximising resources, education, engaging with future generations, citizen assemblies, and youth parliaments. Attendance at these seminars varied from 49 to 119 people from all over the world. We are also in the process of co-producing with our members a suite of resources that will draw from research and practice and build a portfolio of Case Studies and Quick Guides on a wide range of parliamentary public engagement activities.
Within its own processes, the last year has seen the biggest rise in engagement among members, drawing largely on improved communication and the use of relevant tools and platforms. The IPEN website has been enhanced considerably, with real-time and up-to-date information about seminars and other activities. We have also strengthened our Twitter presence, giving more visibility to our activities and events. A necessary outcome of this has been the vastly expanding interests in joining the network, as shown by the volume of new members over the past year. The engaged for impact award helped us accomplish all of these achievements.
Finding a better way
This award recognises all the ways in which new thinking and acting, new products and knowledge, lead to creating and galvanising change and innovation.
Winning project: Spreading the research, not the virus – Novel methodologies for the assessment of COVID-19 aerosol risk and mitigation in dental environments.
Team members: Jon Vernon, Professor David Wood, Professor Brian Nattress, Emma Black, Professor Deirdre Devine, Dr Louise Fletcher, Paula Lancaste and Tom Dennis.
Runners-up: Building an online nutrient profile model calculator for implementation of HFSS legislation.
Team members: Dr Victoria Jenneson, Dr Michelle Morris and Rosalind Martin.
The UK Nutrient Profile Model (NPM) is familiar in policy to define foods high in saturated fat, sugar, or salt (HFSS), which should be limited in children’s diets. For years Ofcom has used the NPM to enforce restrictions on junk food advertising on television. But this was all rather ad hoc. NPM assessments were only needed for those products on which manufacturers wished to run an advert, with manufacturers required to submit evidence to Ofcom of the product’s non-HFSS status.
In recent years use of the UK NPM as the basis of policy has grown. In October 2022, the English Government introduced restrictions on the placement of HFSS products online and in stores. ‘Less healthy’ products in a range of categories are now banned from store entrances, aisle ends and the checkouts. This change meant a LOT more products requiring assessment under the NPM.
I therefore spotted a need for an easy-to-use NPM calculator.
Applying my nutrition knowledge and data skills I worked with the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) to develop a Nutrient Profile Model online calculator. Users enter back of pack product nutrition data and receive a NPM score and HFSS status. I interviewed industry nutritionists, published a policy brief and two academic papers, and shared the calculator with stakeholders from a range of sectors, including Trading Standards Officers across England who have responsibility for enforcing the new product placement rules. This work was recognised by the Engaged for Impact awards by the University of Leeds.
Through speaking to stakeholders it became clear that the calculator needed to be scalable. Plugging in one product at a time was okay for some users, but for others sat on large datasets containing thousands of products, it’s simply infeasible.
The award money enabled me to address this. I employed the services of Alex, a Research Software Engineer in the University’s Research Computing Team. Alex took the existing NPM tool and incorporated a new feature, enabling users to upload a product spreadsheet and assess many products at once. Alex even went one step further, creating an R package for the calculator (nutrientprofiler), meaning NPM assessment can now be easily incorporated into analysis workflows, benefiting the research community too.
A new version of the NPM online calculator with its multiple product assessment feature will be published soon, alongside the R package.
Plus, I’ll be applying the nutrientprofiler package in my own research. Thanks to UKRI funding, I’m part of a research team investigating the early impacts of the new HFSS product placement restrictions. The nutrientprofiler package will benefit this project, allowing me to determine the NPM scores of thousands of products from multiple retailers independently and consistently.
Caring for the future
This award recognises research impact that’s likely to build over time, leading to a fairer, safer and more equitable world and healthier environment.
Winning project: Understanding and improving the carbon footprint of school meals in Leeds.
Team members: Dr Emily Ennis, Alexandra Dalton, Dr Michelle Morris, Mel Green, Kevin Mackay, Polly Cook, Ellie Salvidge and Gillian Banks.
Our ‘Caring for the Future’ prize at the University’s inaugural Engaged for Impact award was recognition of our groundbreaking work with the local public to bring awareness to, and change the understanding of, the emissions from the food system. Over one third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions result from the global food system (Gilbert, 2012), and the UK food system accounted for 35% of UK territorial emissions in 2019 (WRAP, 2021).
Our project involved working in partnership with Leeds City Council to benchmark the carbon footprint of the food they procure. The team from Consumer Data Research Centre Leeds – comprised of Professor Michelle Morris (Data Science for Food, School of Food Science and Nutrition), Dr Emily Ennis (Research and Impact Manager), and Alex Dalton (Data Scientist, now at FareShare) – co-produced with Leeds City Council a food carbon footprint calculator. This was used to benchmark the emissions from the food procured by the Council, as part of their Net Zero goals and #LeedsByExample campaign (launched in September 2021). From the data generated by the calculator, as well as transaction data from schools that highlighted meal popularity, CDRC were also able to commission the development of a digital game called “Planet Plates”, which teaches children the carbon footprint of their school meals. Alongside this game, we created a video on carbon footprints, shown at the 2022 Be Curious festival, and educational activities that can be delivered in schools. These encourage children to think about the planet’s future through their own food choices.
The project itself shows the power of data to tell a story. That story can be the carbon emissions values from ingredients we use every day, or it can be the story about which foods primary school kids love the most. By creating a game and engaging primary-school children through data, we have been able to empower children themselves to be change-makers in a time of climate crisis.
The prize money for the award has been reinvested into the usability of the carbon footprint calculator, making it more accessible for policymakers within Leeds City Council, as well as preparing it for the next phase of connected research projects. This was done by investing in Research Software Engineer time to improve the user experience. Since the completion of this work, the carbon calculator has been rewritten, taking the tool into its third iteration, alongside close feedback and input from Leeds City Council. In late 2023, the tool will be used in ongoing projects designed to tackle climate change by making it easier for residents and organisations to make informed food choices, support more sustainable food production, and reduce food waste. Alongside the redevelopment work, the calculator and its underpinning data have also been used in a research project with the University itself, and has been highlighted as a potential foundation on which to build a digital twin of the food system.
Runners-up: Strengthening health systems and capacities for global health security.
Team members: Professor Garrett Wallace Brown, Dr Gemma Bridge, Natalie Rhodes, Elena Barbaud, Dr Blagovesta Tacheva, Jessica Martini, Jay Patel, Simrit Bhandal, Rebecca Hakim, Sadia Zaman, Atirolaoluwa Obileye, Jimyong Um, Helen Bailey, Luc Tsachoua Choupe, Marc Ho and Nimral Kandel.
This award recognises activities where multiple views from different knowledge holders (including seldom-heard voices) are brought together to inform, reframe or change public debate, and to inspire learning and sense-making that leads to empowerment.
Winning project: Act Early – Holme Wood community-engaged data science to improve societal outcomes.
Team members: Dr Faisal Mushtaq, Mallory Morehead, Hayley Irving, Katherine Hiley, Dr Katy Shire, Chris Brown, Lauren Batty, Dave Lynch, Pete Eyres, Kathryn Loftus, Professor Mark Mon-Williams and Christian Bunting.
In 2022, the ActEarly: Holme Wood team were honoured to receive the Engaged for Impact award. The Widening Perspectives category recognised the teams’ work in bringing together diverse knowledge holders to ‘inform, reframe, and change public debate, and to inspire learning and sense-making that leads to empowerment.’ The award was used to support artists to create a ‘toolbox’ for further community engagement.
The ActEarly: Holme Wood project aimed to empower the community of Holme Wood and its stakeholders between 2019 and 2022. The project and its methodology have had a lasting influence within Bradford.
Funded by the Turing Institute, the project brought together policy makers, residents, local service providers, and data scientists to achieve three main goals:
Develop a process to incorporate data science into conversations about public services and policy.
- Through research projects, data scientists analysed administrative datasets to test hypotheses related to priority issues in Holme Wood.
Empower the local community by engaging them in discussions about issues and local data.
- This engagement led to policy and service recommendations delivered to decision makers, giving residents a voice in shaping their community.
Propose more effective ways to align and target services through a "place-based approach" with a focus on early intervention.
- Recommendations were tailored to the specific needs of the Holme Wood area, considering the locality and its residents.
The ActEarly: Holme Wood project enabled development of a replicable model across Bradford, aiding policy makers and service providers in better aligning and targeting services based on local circumstances.
Following the project's completion, its impact continues to be felt in Holme Wood and beyond. Community engagement events led to the creation of a community "cookbook,” which offers step-by-step guidance for policy change. The cookbook has been well-received and shared widely thanks to support from the Engaged for Impact award.
The Holme Wood community engagement team continues to meet with local residents and service providers to make positive changes on the estate. “Holmewood Forward,” organises events, community projects, and engages with local elected leaders, fostering a sense of unity and progress.
The "model" of data science and community engagement lives on through the Act Locally initiative, which has expanded to other parts of Bradford (Keighley and Manningham/Girlington). Act Locally develops place-based solutions by cultivating partnerships, engaging stakeholders, and addressing pressing issues identified by the communities it serves.
The team are now building partnerships between the Vulnerabilities and Policing Futures Research Centre and the Holme Wood Community Safety Partnership (to ensure community input into crime-related research), developing school events in Keighley aimed at inspiring students, and hosting Learning Symposia to discuss mental health offers in schools.
These are just a few examples of the activities influenced by the ActEarly: Holme Wood project. Act Locally is ensuring a sustained legacy and strives to bring together stakeholders in communities to create place-based solutions. Our goal is to continue extending the work through partnerships and collaborations, empowering communities and driving positive societal changes at the place-based level.
Runners-up: Inspiring and empowering young people through arts and science.
Team members: Dr Briony Thomas, Dr Morgan Herod, Dr Indira Banner, Dr Shamaila Anwar, Kacper Dobras, Ahlam Abumughli, Dinuo Liao, Batley Multi Academy Trust, Upper Batley High School, Batley Girls’ High School, Field Lane Junior Nursery and Infant School and Batley Grammar School.
Making a positive difference to society
This award recognises engagement that leads, or may lead, to positive changes to society. It also includes engagement that prevents harm for groups within society. Working with communities and groups, this could involve activities that enable this positive difference to happen.
Winning project: Banning LGBTIQ+ ‘conversion therapy’ – Engaging with policymakers and LGBTIQ+ organisations to change UK law.
Team members: Dr Ilias Trispiotis, Craig Purshouse and Elliot Ross.
Runners-up: Transforming the culture underpinning disabled children’s services: focussing on family support needs not parental failings.
Team members: Professor Luke Clements, Dr Ana Laura Aiello, Beverley Hitchcock, David Laurence, Priya Bahri, Louise Arnold and Lucy Fullard.
“Transforming the culture underpinning Disabled Children’s Services: focussing on family support needs not parental failings”.
Coming second is not quite the same as winning. Our runner up award ‘feedback’ in the July 2022 ‘Engaged for Impact’ competition (‘Making a Positive Difference to Society’ category) noted that although our research scored highly for social impact and public engagement, in relation to ‘policy reform’ the ‘next step will be to evidence that this has gone into practice’.
Our 2021 research (published as ‘Institutionalising parent carer blame’) had identified serious problems with English national and local guidance concerning the process of assessing the social care support needs of disabled children and their families. It noted that there was – in particular – a pressing need for revision of the key Department for Education (DfE) guidance known as ‘Working Together 2018’.
There are almost one million disabled children in England: they and their families are profoundly and adversely impacted by the current flawed assessment process – impacts articulated in terms of trauma; inappropriate (or no) support; and of families withdrawing from engagement with Children’s Services altogether. Getting the assessment process right will materially improve the well-being of one of England’s most severely disadvantaged groups.
Spurred on by the ‘runner’s up’ award we applied to the Research England Policy Support Fund to enable us to work with independent Parent Carer Groups (parents caring for disabled children) to develop what they consider to be ‘fit for purpose’ assessment guidance: guidance that focusses the attention of assessors on the ‘social model’ barriers that families with disabled children encounter and not one based on a ‘safeguarding’ / ‘parent blame’ model (as is currently the case). Our application was successful and over the last six months we have facilitated the development of this guidance (through an iterative process of consultations – via emails and webinars). An advanced draft was also shared with statutory sector ‘policy leads’ (in local authorities and their regional / national representative organisations) and discussed with them at a closed ‘Chatham House rules’ webinar.
We realised that in order to effect change, we needed – if possible – to have a direct dialogue with the ‘powers that be’. We were fortunate to achieve this goal with a positive response from the responsible DfE Minister. Her department has since consulted on reforming the ‘Working Together 2018’ guidance to (among other things) ‘include a stronger focus on support for disabled children’.
The final version of the ‘fit for purpose’ assessment guidance has now been approved by the Parent Carer Groups and was launched at a webinar on 12 July – and copied to (among others) all English Children’s Services Departments, the DfE and key legal practices that specialise in public law litigation. The aim is for the guidance to act as a template for co-produced local assessment policies – which are required to be put in place by the revised DfE Working Together guidance to be published at the end of 2023.
We will continue to work with Parent Carer Groups to ensure that the current guidance is appropriately revised and that co-produced local guidance based on the template developed by Parent Carers is developed in each of England’s 152 Children’s Services areas. We will work with training organisations to ensure that local assessment staff think and act differently as a result of the revised guidance and that the assessment forms they use are likewise revised to focus on the child’s needs and not their ‘safeguarding’ risks (as at present). We will also continue to brief key legal practices as to the potential for litigation arising out of the current flawed policy and practice arrangements.