A Germ’s Journey Discussion – Health Communication Beyond Nudges

A Germ's Journey Discussion - Health Communication Beyond Nudges
A Germ's Journey Discussion - Health Communication Beyond Nudges

Over a series of three conversations, A Germ’s Journey brings together a group of practitioners and advocates of community-focussed health and community media are coming together to talk about the challenge of public health messages and information in Leicester. These discussions will explore how Leicester-based community health and communication practitioners have been making use of different media platforms, so that they can assist our often overlooked and under-represented communities.

Our question is:

  • How can we give the best care, guidance and information to all the residents of our city?

Our conversations consider what alternative forms of media we believe are making a difference locally. We look at what local approaches are being used that are distinct from the ‘assumption-driven’ national mass-media communications approaches. And our conversation will explore examples of local innovation and practice in community-focussed communications.

This is an opportunity to reflect on our experiences, and to consider what we’ve learnt during the pandemic. What makes a difference at a grassroots and neighbourhood level in Leicester.

Our first discussion examines the challenge of community-focussed communication, compared with the mainstream approaches to public information. Many public authorities and government advisors have recommended using, what’s known as the behaviourist model, that seeks to ‘nudge’ people into behaving in specific and approved ways. In the behaviourist approach the focus is often placed on instructions and routine. The belief is that our behaviour can be changed with a simple nudge.

If a falling infection rate was the goal of behavioural communications, however, then in Leicester it didn’t seem to work very well. Leicester has had the longest continuous lockdown of anywhere in Europe, so clearly there are many lessons to be learnt.

Joining Rob Watson to examine how we can improve our public health communications is:

Mukesh Barot from Healthwatch Leicester and Leicestershire. Mukesh is the Chief Officer of Healthwatch Leicester, and has an extensive and varied background in local authority youth and community development, as well as arts and community services management across Leicester. Previously Mukesh worked with Arts Council England, where he promoted cultural diversity, education, lifelong learning and participatory arts.

Dr Charan Singh Johal from Kohinoor Radio. Charan is the Chief Executive of Kohinor Media, a community radio station based on St Saviour’s Road in Leicester. Kohinoor Radio was literally at the centre of the controversy reported about employment practices in many clothing factories in Leicester.

Dr Charlotte Hilton from Hilton Health Consultancy. Charlotte is a health and social care-related consultant, and a member of the British Psychological Society (BPS). Charlotte is a Chartered Psychologist, and has a history of working within public health, primary care, clinical, community and mental health settings.

A Germ's Journey Discussion
A Germ’s Journey Discussion

These discussions are produced as part of the A Germ’s Journey project, led by Professor Sarah Younie and Dr Katie Laird of De Montfort University, and are supported by a grant from the Higher Education Innovations Fund (HEIF) and DMU Local. Germ’s Journey links people across three continents to promote the message that handwashing is an essential part of our personal and public health responsibilities. A Germ’s Journey supports people in developing communities to make and share their own trusted and engaging media content about public health and hygiene. Underpinning A Germ’s Journey is the idea that public health information is more effective if co-produced by people who share an affinity and common life-experiences. This means making media that reflects what it is like to live in a specific place and community. Germ’s Journey aims to support public health focussed communications that fits with local social and cultural priorities, that meets the expectations and priorities of people acting for themselves to make home grown improvements in their health and wellbeing.

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