Sarah Blake, BRC public contributorThe NIHR Bristol BRC strategy group is made of eight public contributors. They meet with the patient and public involvement (PPI) team four times a year, to oversee the PPI activities taking place across the BRC and develop innovative ways of further embedding PPI within our work.  Sarah Blake, one of our public contributors, shares her perspective:

I joined the NIHR Bristol BRC strategy group in 2017. I was in a point of transition in my life and looking for interesting opportunities. I have a long-standing interest in healthcare systems and research, and their implications for patients. I am a regular user of health services in Bristol as I am Type 1 diabetic and have a young child.

Research helps us to understand the world we live in, but traditionally much of it has happened behind closed doors. The public and patient were rarely involved except at the point of intervention. Having patients and public involved in research at an earlier stage can add a different dynamic. It can keep the voices of those who will be most impacted by interventions in the foreground.

Joining the strategy group seemed to offer another perspective into the world of research. By including a diverse range of patient voices in the group, perhaps new insights or understandings can be found. It has been a worthwhile experience, and every effort is made to keep us informed and engaged with how the BRC is developing.

I have been invited to the BRC launch, commented on the strategy, and was asked to attend the Scientific Advisory Board meeting. It has been incredible to see the vast amount of fascinating and critical research happen in such a short space of time and to understand how the BRC responded so quickly to COVID-19. I look forward to hearing more…

About the BRC Strategy Group

The vision for public involvement in the NIHR Bristol BRC was developed collaboratively between the BRC strategy group and the PPI team. The strategy group is a way of ensuring that public contributors are involved with the BRC at a governance level. They have been central in the writing of the PPI strategy, that all of our researchers work with and against which we measure the ongoing challenges and successes in our work.  To find out more, please contact Dr Noreen Hopewell-Kelly.