The Change Exchange Volunteer Day

It is fitting that our first volunteer meeting fell on International Women’s Day because, by chance, our whole team are women. This first meeting was for the volunteers to meet each other and begin to get excited about their volunteering projects. We talked through the history and aims of The Change Exchange project. We discussed theories and methods of health psychology. We talked about data collection and gave out iPads and business cards for communication and data collection.

The volunteers are such an impressive bunch! We have professors, learning and development professionals, experts in qualitative and quantitative research, motivational interviewing etc etc. It was easy to see today that they will form a cohesive group. The future is bright!

The Change Exchange: Update Jan 2016

The Change Exchange project officially began on 4th January 2016.  The weeks since have seen a flurry of activity including appointment of our project manager.  We had expressions of interest from 31 UK based psychologists wishing to volunteer with us.  Some would have made great volunteers but didn’t have the necessary experience of behaviour change and so were  not a good fit for our project.  After some interviews in person and by Skype, we appointed nine volunteers to work with our five Health Partnership partners.  We have started discussions with all Health Partnership partners about how our volunteers can assist them in delivering their project goals and develop their monitoring and evaluation plans to include behavioural determinants.  We visited Kampala, Uganda, for three days to meet with the Royal College of Midwives and the Ugandan Private Midwives Association to discuss their exciting new midwifery mentorship project : MOMENTUM.  The UK and Ugandan partners had lots of questions about the role of behavioural science in achieving their goals and we came away with a much clearer set of ideas of how our volunteers can add value.

Our volunteers will be getting together on 8th March to discuss project plans, project goals and some logistics.  Our first volunteers are visiting Ethiopia in early April so have begun trips to travel clinics for vaccinations.

A large part of The Change Exchange project is to generate interest amongst health psychologists about the role that we can play in understanding and driving improvement in healthcare practice.  We are beginning to see a community develop and the prospect of playing a small part in health systems strengthening in low and middle income countries is certainly inspiring.

We could tell you but then we’d have to kill you….

In February, Jo and Lucie visited Porton Down in Wiltshire to speak to Public Health England about their infection prevention and control project with partners in Chennai, India. We met Prof Silman and Dr Vassan when we were asked by The Tropical Health and Education Trust to run a workshop on behaviour for their Infection prevention and control grant holders. Nigel asked if we would consider coming to see them when their Indian partners were visiting and we ended up giving an open seminar to PHE staff, discussing the IPC project and meeting their very inspirational behavioural
unit. PHE and their partners are training staff in India in responding to travellers who are suspected to have serious infectious diseases: ambulance drivers, nurses and doctors. It is a really exciting project and we are hoping to find a way to work with them. Jo saw the business end of infection prevention and control measures when, returning from Saudi Arabia, she was isolated with suspected MERS. A little bit of unexpected ethnography!