We have researchers across the university working on impact journeys which arise from their research and here you’ll find an archive of some of these, but first, here’s a word from our Vice Chancellor, Professor Helen Marshall.


REASON FOR FUNDING / This funding proposal was aimed at addressing the lack of public sector funding for materials to support the delivery of prosthetic services in Uganda and the resulting overwhelming reliance on Overseas Development Assistance (Aid).

The health systems problem identified was how to develop an alternative approach to health partnership working that does not contribute to dependency on aid whilst also supporting the delivery of free prosthetic services to the poorest sections of Ugandan society.

USE OF FUNDING / Internal impact funding was used to deploy a British accountant for a period of 4 months to work directly in the orthopaedic workshop in Fort Portal, Uganda. His role there was to identify the needs of the workshop for materials essential to the manufacture of prosthetic legs. None of these materials are manufactured in Uganda and the accountant was able to assess the various routes and costs involving in procuring materials from overseas and comparing these costs. This involved the negotiation of prices with a number of companies and resulted in the decision to make a bulk procurement by Joint Medical Stores, a leading company in Uganda, which significantly reduced costs.

OUTCOMES AND LEGACY / Following this project there is now a strong evidence base to support the future approach to supply chains, with key orders being made using this information which have stimulated a remarkable change in service delivery in the workshop. A new Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with Legs 4 Africa and a major consignment of components is being delivered to Uganda. Coupled with large volume orders from a UK company (ALGEOS) this is likely to significantly reduce the price of prosthetic manufacture in the country.

Discover more from researcher Professor Louise Ackers and her Ugandan projects on the ‘REF2021 Results with Impact’ page


REASON FOR FUNDING / Over the last five years, Arts for the Blues (A4B) has been developed as a new evidence-based group psychological therapy using creative methods, in collaboration with Edge Hill University. This has been piloted in-person with the NHS (IAPT) and in the community (e.g. Cult Survivors). Preliminary findings indicate that this is a promising intervention. The team wished to focus on cutting edge practice by taking the first steps towards transforming it to a digitally-enabled therapy to provide more choice for people with mental health difficulties, particularly during times when face-to-face therapy is limited. The next stage is to gather and present evidence of the impact of the intervention on the participants through a film initially funded by the UK Council for Psychotherapy and through securing additional quality footage of individual participant interviews to establish impact evidence.

USE OF FUNDING / Funding was used to engage the original film crew to produce a set of five individual videos allowing a more nuanced and in-depth exploration of the participants’ experience of the impact of the evidence-based psychological intervention on their mental health, well-being and daily lives. Additionally, a short film was made which was devoted to documenting how the intervention had been delivered online – building the impact narrative to take account of the projects’ contribution to the field of digital therapies, which in turn has a bearing on impact by increasing the range of clients the intervention is able to reach. Finally, a shorter version of the previous 6 min film was created to further promote the project in different contexts and for different audiences. This resulted in the production of both a one-minute ‘teaser’ film and a thirty-second ‘stinger’ film.

OUTCOMES AND LEGACY / The power of utilising the original film in presentational contexts when running stakeholder and training events both online and in person has been repeatedly observed and has highlighted the usefulness of the shorter promotional films. The digitally-focused film is being shown at two further stakeholder events planned for 2022 and 2023 as part of the now AHRC-funded project. Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive and included remarks such as ‘I hope this course helps others in the future like it’s helping me’. Participants also shared experiences such as ‘it was very enlightening’, ‘I just feel understood’ ‘I liked playing and being able to forget current anxieties’. Statistical analysis also showed significant improvements in wellbeing, anxiety and depression across a range of standard measures, demonstrating the promise of the intervention. The themes from the interviews are currently being further analysed as part of the ongoing research, leading to further publications.

REASON FOR FUNDING / A group of interdisciplinary scholars/practitioners working in sound at the University, were looking for ways to celebrate and explore that diversity of sound by programming a series of talks, both academic and practice-based, that would be accessible to a wide audience (including UG and PG students, members of the public, academics, colleagues, and practitioners). 

USE OF FUNDING / Funding was used to invite a range of guest speakers so that attendees could enjoy the day and network as well as benefit from the talks. Attendance was good at this inaugural event, with around 45 people taking part and enthusiastic feedback on the day being received verbatim and via postcards.  Networking for University of Salford PGRs who were guest speakers, and current and former UG students, took place as they made connections with industry professionals and academics/ practitioners. 

OUTCOMES AND LEGACY / Creative collaborations between members of staff and practitioners/academics at other institutions were discussed at the event and may lead to future activities. It is also hoped that the Sound Symposium can be repeated in future years. Feedback was very positive, including comments such as: ‘Fantastic selection of speakers!  Much food for thought for me, as a podcast + radio producer.  Great to hear about the different disciplines + observe the differences/similarities we share‘, ‘Great variety of topics + speakers Really engaging + eye/ear opening content!  Can’t wait for the next one . . .’, ‘Thank you to all, organisers & speakers for a really informative day.  Whilst I wasn’t as prepared or active in networking as I should have been, it was very positive to see so many people making amazing contributions to the sonic world.’

REASON FOR FUNDING / The ‘We Love Peel Park’ creative collaboration has been active since 2018, with a short film and a graphic novel being two creative outputs resulting from knowledge exchange between local people, the charity Loaves and Fishes, and University of Salford staff and students. Everyone involved reports anecdotally how much they value and enjoy the activities, and how they would like to share these effective practices with a wider audience. However, the “problem” has been in resourcing a full evaluation, and in evolving methodologies and impact measures that can document and critically assess our ways of working. The specific research question, therefore, has been how to elucidate the benefits, document and disseminate the processes and products of shared creative activities between multiple and diverse stakeholders.

USE OF FUNDING / The fund enabled a 3-pronged approach to the problem:

  1. Printing high quality hard copies of the graphic novel, disseminating them at the Salford Rediscovered Festival, as well as an online launch.
  2. Maintaining the Creative Exchange community website as a dissemination platform
  3. Commissioning in-depth interviews, transcription and evaluation with representative stakeholders, using an independent researcher to ensure objective results

OUTCOMES AND LEGACY / Project participants and Loaves and Fishes clients have received high quality hard copies of the graphic novel that they helped to produce. The funding secured professional production plus ISBN, making the publication a lasting record and validation of the creative activities of local people. https://doi.org/10.17866/rd.salford.20532309.v1. The novel launched at the Salford Rediscovered Festival, with local people helping to populate a marquee, talking about their work with festival goers. Feedback included: ‘I don’t have words good enough to explain what this project has done for me. I know that an excellent seed has been planted…’, ‘This project is a chance to work creatively with a fantastic group of people and bring together our experiences. During a difficult year our meetings have been a weekly highlight and provided much welcome relief from the monotony of lockdown.’, ‘Engaging with and making some impact in my community through creative writing is such a beautiful and rewarding experience.

REASON FOR FUNDING / Funding was requested to develop creative practices to address two key problems in contemporary urban environments: a lack of visibility and appreciation for the value of wild nature in rapidly developing cities like Manchester; and a lack of visibility and understanding of how smart city technologies are positioned in cityscapes and function in these spaces to monitor and surveil citizens.

USE OF FUNDING / The fund enabled purchase of membership of the sound walk application, Echoes, which enabled geo-located sound walks to be created in Manchester and released to the sound walk community in the city and beyond. The walks specifically addressed the issues above through creatively revealing elements of non-human wildness in the city.

OUTCOMES AND LEGACY / The walks have clearly impacted on the participants as evidenced by their feedback through interview and online questionnaire. These responses evidence that the walks actively changed participants’ experience of and behaviour within the city, providing ways of them feeling more connected with these spaces, more tuned into and attentive to nonhuman natural and digital processes, as well as more aware of the types of surveillance and monitoring practised in contemporary urban environments. The statistics on the application suggest that the walks have been completed over 200 times so far.

REASON FOR FUNDING / The climate crisis necessitates a huge shift in understanding and in practices of living over the coming years. Part of this is the long term, deeper emotional and psychological adaptation to a more unstable world and significant changes in our relationship with the natural world. There is a lack of understanding of the changes necessary and there is significant psychological resistance to engaging with that across many levels of society. There is a significant need for spaces which facilitate emotional and creative expression, and community building.

USE OF FUNDING / Drawing on prior research in dramaturgy and climate psychology, funding was used to collaborate with key practitioners in the design and facilitation of a series of workshops aimed at encouraging embodied connection, and connection with the natural world. This is the trial phase developing the workshops and trialling them with different age groups and audiences with the hope of accessing further funding in the future to expand the project.

OUTCOMES AND LEGACY / Some of the benefit of this project is in the building of connections, networks and communities. This is in itself a valuable part of the process of developing resilience in the face of the climate and ecological crisis. The workshops allowed strong connections to be built with the Duncan Dance Research Centre who are working on community building, nature and adaptation in Athens Greece. The workshops were variable in how effective they were. With the young people already involved with the dance centre, it was more difficult to work on the opening a reflective space and awareness of the natural world through creative practice because they came with expectations of themselves, wanting to be ‘good’ at dance. The workshop with school children was most effective as the children came with no expectations or experience and the playfulness of the approach allowed them to find insights through the workshop. The public workshop for adults was mostly attended by people in the arts world and worked well in creating a space for connection with nature and with each other. Positive feedback was reported from The Duncan Dance Research Centre and the dance teacher who usually works with some of the young people from the Centre.

REASON FOR FUNDING / Since 2020, across society we have all had to become more familiar with digital technology as a means of communication. In HE finding viable alternatives to key in-person activities such as fieldwork and site visits led to the development of a range of virtual learning experiences; the best included innovative Virtual Field Trips (VFTs). Post pandemic, effective Digital Visualisation Resources (DVRs) still provide a valuable learning experience enhancing in-person activities, particularly in the environmental sciences where inclusivity is known to be poor at many levels. Alongside greater engagement with IT, the Covid-19 lockdowns also led to a significant increase in our appetite for ‘the outdoors’. The health benefits of Green Spaces are well known. This project aimed to pull together these two phenomena and engage with the public to take the experience gained in HE, in the innovative use of digital tools to provide greater inclusivity in environmental activities and apply this expertise collaboratively to the outreach activities of civic, community and conservation groups for wider societal participation alongside effective environmental management.

USE OF FUNDING / Three partners were identified and Digital Visualisation Resources (DVRs) have been co-created with them to reach out and engage with local communities and users. Their challenges include developing cost-effective community engagement in an urban setting through impactful outreach (Salford City Council Ranger Service), to organisations offering outdoor education opportunities hindered by perceived site assess and risk issues (Cheshire East Council) and conservation work where the scale of the site and the timeframe of the projects limit visitors’ comprehension of their work and negatively impact perceptions of their value (Lancashire Wildlife Trust). Project funds purchased equipment to facilitate the visualisation of each site and its activities (e.g., via interactable media such as 360-degree photos, drone-based aerial videography and 3D modelling), providing a level of interaction and emersion that helps enhance each site’s accessibility and visitor engagement. (The key purchase for each partner was a compact ‘action camera’ (i.e., weather-proof).) These resources can be used flexibly allowing updating and, for example, event specific assets to easily be added.

OUTCOMES AND LEGACY / The DVRs produced with each partner are designed to be flexible and robust so that the project outputs will have longevity and the project partners have the skill set to adapted their DVRs independently. At this early stage each project DVR is still at a prototype stage but in each case has already garnered additional support and interest. For example, an early version of a Virtual Peel Park has been used in the Park’s bid to enhance its Green Flag status. This has raised the profile of the Peel Park within Salford City Council and discussions are underway about similar spin-off DVR development for 15 other sites across Salford. Tegg’s Nose Country Park’s Ranger (East Cheshire) has used the site’s DVR to (re-) engage with two local schools. Working with their teaching staff the (virtual) site is now included in the teaching plan for 2022-23. (Previously) local education links had dismissed due to perceived access issues. The site trails are also getting a digital ‘upgrade’ which will be promoted regionally (as the site is a Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological site (RIGG)) so the digital geological trail can be promoted via the Geological Society. The Lancashire Wildlife site will employ their virtual peatland site on the edge of Salford’s boundary to the west to promote the ‘better’ use of a site which has been impacted in the past by trespass and vandalism yet have made major strides in terms of restoration. Our visual digital tools will virtually link three site to tell a more impactful story of the past history and future for the remains of Chat Moss in a warming world where they can play a key role in carbon storage. A newly appointed staff member aims to actively employ these resources to engage with local schools.

REASON FOR FUNDING / The Digital Curation Lab (DCL) at the University of Salford was established in 2019 on the MediaCityUK Campus as a place for all activities within the institution associated with the field of Digital Humanities to come together in a collaborative environment (https://hub.salford.ac.uk/digital-curation-lab/). The DCL is designed to create opportunities for all to explore the intersections of digital technology, creative arts, information management, humanities, social sciences, and associated areas of engagement. One of the issues is how to make the work of the DCL easily accessible to non-academic audiences.

USE OF FUNDING / Short courses have been identified by the DCL as an appropriate way to engage with non-academic audiences on topics such as personal archives and organising photo collections. Funding was required to develop these short courses and prepare video materials with which to engage non-academic audiences.

OUTCOMES AND LEGACY / The DCL has now developed two short courses (1-day’s worth of contact time) for non-academic audiences. The courses are called 1. ‘Digitizing Your Photography Collection’ and 2. ‘Managing Your Personal Archive’. These have now been added to the DCL’s list of offerings along with conventional academic programmes and professional services offered to the GLAM sector. The short courses are planned to be offered for the first time in Autumn 2022.

REASON FOR FUNDING / CMT is a physiotherapy treatment for knee osteoarthritis which specifically targets abnormal patterns of muscle coordination and psychological factors which can influence pain. The treatment requires patients to understand physiological concepts related to the biomechanics of human movement and also to understand ideas related to pain. To convey this understanding, there is a need to create, and continually refine, a set of 3D animations which underpin intervention delivery (patient education). There is also a need to create an online learning platform which we can use to host video materials alongside written explanations of the concepts which underlie CMT. The biomechanical aspects of CMT require physiotherapists to learn new clinical assessment and treatment skills. To minimise the time required to deliver face-to-face training, it is critical that we create extensive online learning materials which physiotherapists are able to complete before face-to-face training. CMT is now fully developed, and is based around a set of very prescriptive clinical protocols. It is therefore important that we gain insight into user perceptions. Specifically, we need to understand how physiotherapists view our training course and how confident they feel delivering CMT. It is also important that we continue to collect clinical data from patients alongside patient testimonials.

USE OF FUNDING / Working with a local animation studio (Kilogramme), the portfolio of 3D animated videos which support intervention delivery has been extended. Each video explains a specific concept related to CMT and includes a voice over. A full set of online materials using the Thinkific platform (thinkific.com) has also been created which enable patients to review treatment concepts. The information on this platform also explains what patients need to practice between face-to-face treatment sessions. Working with Kilogramme, a set of video case studies has been created to support physiotherapist learning. These case studies combine patient footage with an overlay of a human skeleton, allowing physiotherapists to develop new biomechanical assessment skills. Using the Thinkific platform, a full training course for physiotherapists has been developed, which takes approximately 15 hours to complete. This integrates assessment/treatment video footage and explanatory text. Five NHS physiotherapists have now been trained to deliver CMT and observed each physiotherapist delivering CMT to two patients with knee osteoarthritis. Observations, along with feedback, have allowed the physiotherapist training course to be refined. In addition, each physiotherapist and five patients who have received the treatment have been interviewed to capture user perceptions. The funding was used to cover transcription costs for these interviews which were undertaken by researchers from Manchester University and UWE.

OUTCOMES AND LEGACY / So far, the clinical effectiveness of CMT has surpassed expectations, with average reductions in pain of 85%. Patient feedback has continually reinforced the importance of the online materials, which allow them to understand and digest the key principles of CMT. These online materials have contributed to the high level of clinical effectiveness. Feedback from physiotherapists has also been incredibly positive. This feedback proves that the video case studies in the online course allow them to quickly develop both the assessment and treatment skills required for CMT. A journal paper which will describe both patient and physiotherapists perceptions of CMT is being prepared. Once published, this will form a key part of the marketing strategy for future CPD courses. In order to protect the term “Cognitive Muscular Therapy”, this term has been registered as a trademark in the UK with a view to extending the trademark outside the UK. In recognition of the huge potential of this new intervention for knee osteoarthritis, the UoS Innovation Strategy Fund has provided an additional £32K of funding to run a study which will investigate whether CMT can provide pain relief to patients on a waiting list for knee replacement. There is now clinical data from 12 patients showing between 65-100% improvements in knee pain. Two other ongoing studies will provide clinical data from a further 70 research participants over the next 12 months, with anticipation of a similar level of clinical effectiveness. Critically, this is vastly superior to current physiotherapy, which delivers 20-30% improvement, and which is therefore comparable with placebo! A range of patient and physiotherapist testimonials have been collected, which are all incredibly positive.

REASON FOR FUNDING / Many jobs have a digital element, and it is predicted that within 20 years, 90% of all jobs will require some element of digital skills, and as the digital economy grows, there will be even greater demand for people with specialist digital skills. This therefore implies that the construction sector will require digitally literate and collaborative people to meet the industry’s expectations. However, the construction sector is threatened by the prevailing skill gap coupled with the inability to attract the younger generation of workers who will possess the required digital skills to meet the industry’s future demand. In addition, the UK construction industry has not been able to unlock the diverse skills available in the migrant community for a long time. These issues make approaching the younger generation, specifically, those with BAME backgrounds in the colleges and high schools, very important in order to sensitise and attract them to the sector and present the opportunities available should they possess the right digital skills.

USE OF FUNDING / The funding was used to set up a two-day event, which included a workshop and seminar with a local secondary school. The event targeted pupils in year 8 and 9 as they have limited knowledge and awareness of their career direction at this stage. Thirty students participated in total, and ten were linked to BAME backgrounds. Day 1 was used to introduce the students to the sector and educate them on the vast and growing opportunities available therein and a great career pathway. Also, the project team provided a practical demonstration of digital technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) headsets and drones which the students found exciting and created a platform for engagement. Day 2 took place at the University and the students had the opportunity to see the state-of-the-art facilities available, such as the Maker Space and the automation and robotics laboratory, all of which could shape or inform the students’ career choices. After exploring the University and having lunch on campus, students were engaged in a capacity-building exercise where they had the opportunity to practically demonstrate everything, they had learnt over the two days to win the grand prize. This meant that the students also had the chance to develop necessary skills for higher education and the world of work, such as problem-solving, creativity, teamwork, collaboration, and presentation skills.

OUTCOMES AND LEGACY / The overarching impact of this work is directly addressing the urgent need to create awareness of the construction sector amongst the younger generation, as the industry is wrongly perceived and not so popular amongst this group compared to other sectors. More so, the new generation of construction workers needs to be made aware of developing skills for the future due to the recent technological shift. Specifically, the two-day event provided the following benefits:

  • Students became aware of the construction sector as a potential career pathway and salary scales to aid future aspirations. 
  • Students had hands-on experience with digital technologies such as VR headsets and drones and were informed of their usage within a construction project. 
  • A tour of the University’s state-of-art facilities was used to promote the University as a potential option for the students and to help inform the students’ career decisions.
  • A successful link has been established with the selected school and increases the chances of future collaborations. Similarly, several other schools indicated their interest in the event. These schools will be contacted upon available funds to widen the impact of the event. 
  • The capacity-building exercise allowed the students to develop valuable educational and lifelong skills such as problem-solving, creativity, teamwork, collaboration, and presentation skills.

More tangible evidence would be to understand how many of the participating students selected construction as a career pathway in the future and the University of Salford as a place of study. However, in the absence of this data, oral feedback and testimonies were gathered from accompanying staff and students who applauded the usefulness of the activities and testified how much they enjoyed the events. In the future, surveys will be designed to evaluate and capture the testimonies of the participants to better quantify the impact of the event.

REASON FOR FUNDING / Around the general area of genetics and healthy ageing, the aim was to revive an existing collaboration in Hanoi, Vietnam for public engagement and dissemination of a project on Genetics of Autism. Most of the funds were requested for travel to Hanoi for the activity.

USE OF FUNDING / Unexpectedly, the centre in Hanoi underwent a significant change in their staffing and management during the period of funding and as a consequence the trip could not be planned at the time, but there are hopes that the collaboration can be revived. Instead, the funding was used to connect with some networks in India, with the broad goal remaining the same – public engagement and dissemination of role of genetics in healthy ageing. The funds were used to travel to India for 2 weeks, network with a film production and public engagement company in Kolkata, India and to network with several possible partners for knowledge exchange.

OUTCOMES AND LEGACY / Engagement with the film production company has now been formalised. Using the funds, an initial payment has been made to them for preparation of the draft screenplay. Shooting of the film is planned during December 2022. Approaches have been made to two different HEIs in India for knowledge exchange. One of them is now at the stage of MoU signing. A visit is being planned in December 2022. The plan is to make the film available to several public platforms and also arrange screenings in India and in the UK. This will lead to documented evidence of public engagement.

REASON FOR FUNDING / The members of Sefton Older People’s Forum Southport have been isolated during the pandemic, as have many older people.  Although they have been meeting in Zoom once a month, this has not been satisfactory for the majority. Furthermore, the key facilitator for meetings, a professional social worker with Sefton Borough Council, and Sefton Advocacy was changing roles to take up a new post at Sefton CVS, a larger agency for social and cultural networking and projects in the borough. The members didn’t know if the OPF could continue in these circumstances. This project is intended to demonstrate ways in which the disparate members of OPF are connected, through a shared history in relation to the Elizabethan era at the time of the Jubilee. The project creates an oral history of the activities of the OPF – advising policy makers, supporting research and taking part in creative activities; and  connects isolated members and the Sefton BC community at large.

USE OF FUNDING / The funding went towards the costs of 2 Research Assistants, one a Graphic Design specialist, and one Photographer, plus a small portion of the cost of digital consumables. It has supported some elements linked to national Jubilee events in 2022 and as part of a larger scale Heritage Lottery Funded project in Sefton Borough, Merseyside. The OPF member participants were introduced to MA Graphic Communication graduate, Hannah Briggs and Photographer and Filmmaker, Sam Hepworth. A playful approach to historical interpretation and memory was then initiated. The project privileges collecting notes from diaries, and domestic and informal photo and film archives, thus flattening the hierarchies in historicising public, personal and ‘major’ and ‘minor’ events in an individual’s life. The project emphasised the empathy and recognition of shared or familiar events between individuals as well as the performativity of individual experiences and memories. The project sought to point to ways to imagine the future rather than instilling reminiscence and nostalgia.

OUTCOMES AND LEGACY / The project both celebrated existing connections and created new connections between participants and between people in very different ‘townships’ of Sefton borough, from Bootle to Churchtown. 12 people took part in 30 minute-long oral history interviews and over a period of 3 days. The majority of interview content placed an emphasis on the need to continue an Older People’s Network of some kind and to promote the participation of older citizens in policy making and in creative discourse. The recording was edited for a 20 minute film, Premiered at Bijou Cinema Southport at the Jubilee Weekend in June 2022. The transcripts were edited further for inclusion in a print publication. The launch of the publication will be attended by participants and family members. At the premier of the film element the 75-seater cinema was packed. An audience of about 50 people is expected for a second screening and to launch the booklet, which will be available in the Atkinson Arts Centre bookshop and library in Southport. A PDF digital document will also be available for public viewing. Elizabeth Wewiora of Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool is discussing the possibility of showcasing the project in their Digital Window Gallery Space.

REASON FOR FUNDING / The last time this type of event ran was IMMERSE as part of the 2019 Festival of Research. IMMERSE took place at MediaCity and was an interactive space to learn about the research at Salford. This New Scientist event essentially sought to take IMMERSE on the road as a ‘pop-up’ concept as a ‘Research Roadshow’ that echoes ‘research’ as part of the University of Salford brand and further proliferates the University brand and placement as a key destination. Elements of the roadshow enabled participants to record their own videos and memes immersed in the pop-up environment and disseminate through their own social networks, trackable via social media channels.

USE OF FUNDING / Curation of the content was key and it was important to align to the event, expectations and potentially offer something that no one else was. This is where the VAR experiences came in and provided unique ways to experience immersive research and start conversations under a common concept. Furthermore, in line with the University Innovation Strategy and local economic strategy and challenges the VAR experience provided opportunity to engage with both research and technology and for visitors to experience virtual environments that they may not have encountered due to social, economic or educational barriers. Primarily the funding was spent on the development of a stand for the NSL event and branding to accompany this to connect visitors to the University and clearly identify us with the digital experience and space.

OUTCOMES AND LEGACY / The event facilitated a series of digital assets to be generated such as flyers about Salford’s researchers, a full page advert in New Scientist as well as online assets such as the virtual exhibition space and call for volunteers internally and externally through Learning City SCC and Salford CVS and Community Leisure to support the activity. Salford sponsored the Engage stage and our speakers received positive feedback and engagement from the public in attendance, filling the room to its capacity. Over the three days at Manchester Central engagement took place with thousands of visitors: the main hall where the stand was located had over 5,000 visitors, for example. Prof Andy Miah was also involved in additional lectures using the VAR kit and an active demonstration that led to increased interest in the stand and its activities. This event has helpfully generated further conversations with the NSL team for future events and possibilities. Our physical assets from the event include the wall insets, furniture and VAR kits (Oculus 2 headsets). The headsets were pre-loaded with a range of games and an interactive university experience for participants to choose from. For many using the headsets, it was their first time and the audience ranged from members of the public from families and young children to young people from schools and colleges locally. The Salford Widening Participation team were present throughout the event, over the three days to help maximise engagement with schools and the public. The NSL began as an event but has become so much more: through both physical and virtual assets, greater brand awareness that can be tracked via social media, a trained team of vocal and enthusiastic volunteers, a model of engagement and a portable kit to take our research on the road. However, the most valuable part of NSL is the relationships built. Relationships with New Scientist as a partner and longer term collaborator and most importantly re-forming our relations and relationship with the public.

REASON FOR FUNDING / The threat of infectious diseases, such as those caused by antibiotic resistant (AMR) bacteria, Covid-19, Monkey pox, and polio, continue to escalate. Though medical advances have significantly extended the life expectancy of elderly and immunocompromised populations, this comes with increased numbers of people susceptible to infection and increased burden of long-term suffering with chronic illness that is not well understood. With increased open access to science research, microbiology has never been a hotter subject area in the public eye. With this comes dangers of misunderstandings and spread of mis-information, but also opportunities to enthuse all sectors of society and the next generation of scientists and entrepreneurs to work together on solutions. There is an urgent need for society to better understand and distinguish the basic biology of viruses and bacteria and the genetic elements that are controlling how microorganisms cause disease. This would help to foster new thinking to develop alternative strategies for treatment and control of infectious diseases that are currently plaguing the globe, as well as those not yet discovered.

USE OF FUNDING / Funding was used to generate world-class impact linked to our current BBSRC-funded microbiology research in collaboration with The University of Liverpool. The project focuses on Bacteriophages (phages), which are viruses that infect and kill bacteria, but can also form partnerships as prophages, acting like internal puppet masters to change the fundamental biology of their bacterial hosts. Specifically, we focus on the case of cystic fibrosis (CF), a disease familiar to most as it is covered in the school curriculum and has piqued the interest and emotions of many. There has been a recent resurgence in excitement about “Phage therapy” as a potential saviour in treatment bacterial infections of the CF lung. But our research also explores the other side: bacteriophages that can enhance bacterial survival, affording them “super-powers” in the same niche. A set of visually engaging and tactile working models of bacteria and phages (500,000 – 1000,000 x bigger than the real thing) were designed to demonstrate the different relationships between these microbial partners. These were influenced by games such as “Pop-Up Pirate” and “Buckaroo”. The models were created using 3D printing, flexible moving parts and spring-loaded internal mechanisms. Phage “keys” of different shapes were produced, to be fitted into the right “receptor” on the bacterial model to trigger a response. This demonstrated key messages about phage shape, size, diversity and specificity as well as the different ways they affect bacteria. Elements of theatre and competition were added for use of the models at public engagement events.

OUTCOMES AND LEGACY / The models were used in a case for support for an application to be part of this year’s Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. The bid was successful – just one of 16 chosen to showcase the work at The Royal Society Buildings for a whole week in July 2022. This enabled the team to secure further funds from The University of Salford, University of Liverpool, The Microbiology Society and The Wellcome Trust to put together a world-class exhibit, developing a brand-new virtual reality experience of chronic infection of the CF-lung and the different influences that phages play. The money paid for development of a virtual reality journey through the CF-lung, purchase and transport of high-tech equipment for delivery, more publicity materials, a training event, travel, accommodation and subsistence for 23 people in London for a week, an extended employment of a Business intern. The development of this high-profile event enabled us to build engagement with several stakeholder groups, including the CF Trust, the Microbiology Society, the BBC World Service, and importantly, schools. For example, the team took part in 3 separate schools Q&A sessions during the exhibition, in which ~60 students booked private audience sessions with members of the team to talk about different career pathways in science. The Royal Society was really impressed with the exhibit and the whole team. The event attracted 5,700 guests and many commented about the exhibit in the official evaluation. Our VC received a particular letter of praise for our team. See: https://www.salford.ac.uk/news/salford-microbiology-researchers-create-giant-models-royal-society-summer-science-exhibition for more details.