By Louise Lacey, ARC KSS PCIE Co-ordinator

Here at the Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex (ARC KSS) we have a valued Public Involvement Network (PIN) which is made up of our Theme Public Advisors.  Our valued members have been meeting quarterly, since April 2020, to share the work they have been doing with their themes, support each other and find out what other research is happening across ARC KSS.  They help us to make sure the research we support is relevant to our local communities and that it meets our objectives. 

However, like many of us during the COVID-19 pandemic, our theme public advisors transitioned to a 'virtual' way of working.  We all reflected on how this has become the 'norm', and felt it was time to arrange our next meeting as a face-to-face away day. 

So, this summer (July) we hosted our very first PIN away day. The day was a great success, thoroughly enjoyed by all.

We decided to split the day in two. The morning session was focused around governance and other current topics such as: business plan feedback; the scope towards strengthening community engagement; future recruitment of additional public advisors and the support we can offer them. 

In the afternoon, we adopted a creative approach by asking our PIN members to reflect on their role as a Theme Public Advisor. Among the many talents and lived experiences of our PIN members, we have a talented artist researcher and designer whose work focuses mainly on the subject of mental wellbeing. With their experience of facilitation in collaborative workshops it felt only natural for them to lead the creative session.

They gently encouraged everyone to envisage what their role as a Theme Public Advisor means to them through the art of collage, allowing them to express themselves in a way separate to that of academic language.  A welcomed opportunity for everyone to experience it's potential and capture interactions between each other, to share their ideas and knowledge creatively.  An idea they may like to take forward and use again.


One of many wonderful collages created, representing what their role as a Public Theme Advisor looks like to them.

The learnings from that day acknowledge the desire and importance for the consideration of everyone's social needs, the balance of technology and work rhythm.  After all, we often thrive on face-to-face interaction.

"Seeing people face to face is a form of wellbeing, having a chat, someone else makes you a cup of tea, that's what's special about being in that atmosphere, that environment.  Zoom is useful, many of us are separated by distance, time constraints and other commitments, it's fit for its purpose and convenience, yet, at times feels stunted and dislocated in some way.

We can all benefit from being together, it widens and strengthens the bond of inclusion
Keith Turner, ARC KSS Public Advisor.

It was lovely to meet everyone in person and receive such positive feedback about the day.  Anyone is welcome to get involved - we believe that everyone has something worthwhile to contribute. If this is something you are interested in please contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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