This microFUND project was a collaboration between The Centre for Life, a science centre in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and Newcastle Science City Community Engagement project.
The primary mission of the Centre for Life is to make science engaging and accessible to everyone. We do this through exhibitions, lectures and events, a science festival and formal education workshops. We have a wide range of experience in developing dialogue activities.
Newcastle Science City Community Engagement project is itself a partnership between Newcastle City Council, Newcastle Science City, Newcastle Council for Voluntary Services, Centre West and Newcastle Futures. The aim of the Community Engagement Project is to raise awareness of science and new technologies across Newcastle to ensure that all local communities are effectively informed and involved in Newcastle Science city and ultimately can benefit from the range of socio-economic opportunities it will provide.
Our aim with this project was to work with a local BME (black minority ethnic) group to identify a health topic which interested them and then to develop a playdecide game or an adaptation of the playdecide format which was appropriate for the group to use on the topic of their choice.
The community group we worked with was identified by Newcastle Science City Community Engagement project and Newcastle City Council. The Sangam group are a group of Asian women aged over 55 who have weekly meetings and who have a particular interest in health issues.
Newcastle Science City community Engagement project work with many community groups and are keen to empower community groups to find out more about science. As part of this role they carried out a consultation exercise with the group to find out which particular health topics they were interested in. A range of topics were discussed and the final topic of choice was determined by a vote. The topic chosen was blood pressure which was something that had personal relevance for many of the group.
Following the topic choice The Centre for Life developed an event on Blood Pressure based on the playdecide format. Science city partners and the Sangam group were consulted during the development of the event.
Most of the group members had English as a second language and while many of them were extremely proficient in English we wanted to make the experience as easy as possible for them to take part in. We limited the number of words on the cards more than in a normal playdecide game to try to reduce the amount of reading needed. We also simplified the guidelines on the placemat and did not have an introduction on the placemat. The game and rules were introduced by Sarah Robinson of the Centre for Life who gave a brief introductory talk to the session. In addition to reducing the number of words on the cards we were also able to produce cards that were larger in size than the standard playdecide cards. We felt that these larger cards would be easier to read by the participants. Finally, we didn’t feel that the topic leant itself to policy positions, instead we wanted to use the game format to explore the topic with the participants. The end point of our session was for each group to answer the questions “What is stopping people from following advice about blood pressure?” and “How do we get the message through?” For each question, each group brainstormed possible reasons and then had to reach a consensus on the 2 most important factors. These factors were fed back to the whole group at the end of the session.
What is stopping people from following advice about blood pressure?
Laziness and carelessness
Lack of awareness or ignorance
Older women have too many commitments, lack of time.
Hard to exercise if you have other health problems that prevent it.
Difficult to change what you eat
People don’t have enough knowledge
Some people don’t listen to the Doctor
How do we get the message through?
Media – advertisements in multiple languages
Posters & leaflets
Drop in clinics, discussion groups
Fix language barrier
Pass on the message via children
Community venues with interpreters
(there are differences in language abilities between different communities even within the same city)
Having facts available
Alternative medicine e.g. breathing techniques
People to give talks to groups – someone the groups can identify with who has also experienced high blood pressure.
At the event we gave out some evaluation forms, the results of which were overwhelmingly positive.
Following the event the group were keen to visit the Centre for Life. The visit was very successful. Newcastle Science City Community Engagement project are continuing to work with the group.
Since the event, other groups have expressed an interest in taking part of the event and we are in the process of organizing an event for another group.