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Chief Scientific Advisor visits South Gloucestershire to understand how research can help public health challenges in the region

4 March 2019

One of the government's top scientific advisors visited South Gloucestershire Council, to understand the public health challenges of South Gloucestershire, and how research can help address them.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care and lead of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) - the nation's largest funder of health and social care research - met with several Council members, members of South Gloucestershire’s public health team and local NIHR-funded researchers.

The team from NIHR learnt of the remarkable improvements in locally relevant public health research that are being pioneered in South Gloucestershire

Prof Whitty also met with NIHR-funded researchers from the University of Bristol studying the Breakthrough Mentoring scheme and its service users. The South Gloucestershire scheme supports young people who experience social and behavioural problems that result in risky behaviours such as drug taking, poor school attendance or exclusion from school.

Breakthrough Mentoring carefully matches a young person with an adult mentor who has similar interests and skills to help them overcome issues. More than 300 people of all ages in South Gloucestershire are participating in this scheme at the moment. The NIHR-funded study aims to test the effectiveness of youth mentoring in the UK.

Speaking about the work of the council Prof Whitty, said:

“Research can take place in many settings to bring benefits for the local community as well on a national level. The collaboration between South Gloucestershire Council and NIHR-funded researchers is a perfect example of research responding to local need to improve lives of those living in South Gloucestershire.”

Cllr Erica Williams, Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Public Health at South Gloucestershire Council, said:

“We always seek to develop our public health offer on solid evidence and best practice. It great to see the dedication of the research team and how their learning directly influences services which make a positive change for our local residents.”

Rona Campbell, Professor of Public Health Research, University of Bristol, said:

“The Breakthrough Mentoring study shows how those in public health practice and in academic research can collaborate to evaluate local services and work to address important evidence gaps at a national level.”
Chief Scientific Advisor visits South Gloucestershire to understand how research can help public health challenges in the region
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