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Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families Collaborator Receives UCL Public Engager Prize

We are delighted to announce that our collaborator Kate Martin, Director of Common Room, has been awarded the UCL Provost’s Community Public Engager of the Year Award.

She’s being recognised for the key role she has played in ensuring that the voices of children and young people with experience of mental health issues inform the work of the Evidence Based Practice Unit (EBPU), a research and development collaboration between the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and UCL.

The Provost Public Engager awards recognise excellent public engagement activity and are an opportunity to celebrate the impact it has on local communities.

Kate and her team at Common Room have helped the EBPU in four main areas: 1) ensuring service user consultation in the design of research projects; 2) advising on public engagement; 3) co-designing and co-presenting trainings for young people, teachers and clinicians; and 4) sharing learning via national events.

An example is Power Up, a four-year research project to develop an app for young people to use from their first assessment with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to empower them to be actively involved in decision-making. Common Room are leading the involvement of young people, supporting two Common Room Young Advisors to be core members of the steering group and co-producing the app with the team, alongside facilitating sessions with young people in local CAMHS. Feedback from this work influences the design of both the project and the app itself, and the sharing of findings.

Miranda Wolpert, Director of the EBPU, said: “Mental health research is often criticised for being led by professionals. Over the past two years, Common Room has helped us to ensure that all projects take into account the views, wishes or wisdom of children, young people and other family members.”

She added: “Common Room’s engagement work has had significant benefits for our staff, and for children and young people in schools and mental health services. They’ve challenged our thinking and we’ve learnt first-hand the value of engaging with young people, which has improved the quality and impact of our projects, ensuring that our work is actively shaped by the very people who will benefit from it.”

Kate said: “Connecting the expertise of children, young people and researchers is the best way of driving change and finding what’s really needed to improve young people’s mental health services. EBPU is dedicated to learning from the expertise and wisdom of young people and it is always so energising for us and the young advisors to work alongside such a passionate team.”

Kate Martin, founded and runs Common Room, and has more than 15 years’ experience of promoting collaborative practice and shared decision making for children and young people, empowering young people to speak up about the social, policy and practice issues that affect their lives. She set up Common Room in 2013 to champion the voices of these often-marginalised groups and connect children and young people with researchers, commissioners, practitioners and policymakers.