PHIRST South Bank

A multidisciplinary, cross school, collaborative centre that works with local authorities to deliver local, yet scalable, evaluations that will feed into the wider public health evidence base.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funding six Public Health Intervention Responsive Studies Teams (PHIRST) across the United Kingdom. Each PHIRST Team is made up of a group of academics from different disciplines, who evaluate public health initiatives set up by local authorities across the UK.

Public health works to protect and promote health and wellbeing across populations and reduce inequalities in health. It recognises that health is influenced by conditions where people live, learn, work, and play. Local authorities provide initiatives to try and improve public health, and we want to find out what works, what doesn’t work, and why.

PHIRST South Bank is a collaboration between five Research Centres across London South Bank University:

The team has a wealth of experience of working with local authorities and the voluntary sector researching public health and health inequalities. The interdisciplinary approach of the PHIRST South Bank team means it is well placed to respond to the multidimensional nature of public health priorities and the complex interventions designed to address them.

Further information about PHIRST can be found here:

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Good public health practice needs to be based on good evidence. We know how complex public health interventions are and we understand the challenges this creates for evaluation – especially when multiple stakeholders are involved. By acknowledging this complexity and bridging the gap with academia, public health, local government, and local communities, PHIRST South Bank delivers robust and compelling evaluations. We aim to provide rapid evaluations and actionable recommendations based on robust theory and evidence.

For each evaluation, we:

  • Design our work in collaboration with the Local Authorities to ensure relevance, engagement and meaningful dissemination of findings
  • Build capacity within the Local Authorities to strengthen research expertise and an evidence- based culture
  • Design evaluations that are insightful for decision makers and fill the evidence gap in a way that is useful for the wider Public Health professional community and policy makers
  • Embed Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) in all our functions. We aim to recruit members of public to a PPI panel for each intervention from the locality to ensure contribution of local lived experiences.

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Central Team

PHIRST South Bank has a central team which oversee and support all of the evaluations the Centre will undertake. The current team is formed of:

Director: Prof. Susie Sykes

Senior Research Fellow: Dr. Thomas Mills

Senior Research Fellow: Dr. Jessica Owugha

Research Assistant: Dr Catherine Jenkins

PHIRST Administrator: Anita Hoque

Evaluation Manager: Emma Doohan

PHIRST Co-Investigator and Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) Representative: Helen Cherry

Centre Executive Committee

PHIRST South Bank is overseen by a Centre Executive Committee, which is formed of:

Prof. Susie Sykes

Prof. Antony Moss

Helen Cherry

Prof. Issa Chaer

Prof. Daniel Frings

Prof. Katya Mileva

Prof. Jane Wills

Prof. Patrick Callaghan

Prof. Nicola Martin

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In total, PHIRST South Bank will undertake 10 evaluations between 2020 and 2025. Please see the links below to learn more about the evaluations we are undertaking:

A realist evaluation of a public health community of practice advocacy project to restrict outdoor advertising of high fat, salt, and sugar foods.

Evaluation Lead: Prof. Susie Sykes

Evaluation Team: Dr. Megan Watkins, Dr Catherine Jenkins, Dr. Matthew Bond, Prof. Jane Wills

Evaluation of the impact of Essex Community Action Site upon Attitudes, Behaviour and public health Systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. Essex

Evaluation Leads: Prof. Daniel Frings, Prof. Andrew Whittaker

Evaluation Team: Dr Megan Watkins, Dr Jaimee Mallon, Prof. Chris Flood, Prof. Susie Sykes, Prof. Jane Wills, Grace Wang, Catelyn Woelfe, Ella Barry

Evaluation of the development of a behaviour change unit and its contribution to local government.

Evaluation Lead: Prof. Jane Wills

Evaluation Team: Dr. Megan Watkins, Dr Eleni Vangeli, Kanar Ahmed,

Evaluation of a public health pathway for alcohol and substance users in the criminal justice setting in Nottinghamshire

Evaluation Lead: Prof. Edward Chaplin, Dr. Thomas Mills

Evaluation Team: Dr. Thomas Mills, Dr Jaimee Mallon, Manuela Jarrett, Denise Harvey

Greater Manchester Communities Addressing Gambling Harms

Evaluation Leads: Dr. Thomas Mills, Prof. Paula Reavey

Evaluation Team: Prof. Antony Moss, Prof. Ian Albery, Dr Catherine Jenkins

An evaluation of the change from face-to-face to telephone specialist smoking cessation service and its effects on underserved communities in Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes

Evaluation Lead: Prof. Lynne Dawkins

Evaluation Team: Dr. Thomas Mills, Prof. Daniel Frings, Dr Elisa Lewis

Reducing inequalities in exercise participation: Evaluation of the novel ‘Bracknell Forest Health and Well-Being Locality Service’ (BFHWBS)

Evaluation Lead: Prof. Katya Mileva

Evaluation Team: Dr Megan Watkins, Prof. Susie Sykes, Prof. Jane Wills, Dr. Lisa Zaidell, Terassa Taylor-Kaveney, Dr. Charles Graham, Prof. Chris Flood

An evaluation of a programme for young people in most need of mental health support (16–25-year-olds living in Central Bedfordshire)

Evaluation leads: Patrick Patrick Callaghan and Prof Paula Reavey

Evaluation team: Dr Jessica OwughaDr Catherine Jenkins, Prof Chris Flood

A process evaluation of the development and early implementation of a complex strategy to reduce serious youth violence in Lambeth - NIHR Public Health Interventions Research Studies Teams

Evaluation leads: Dr Tirion Havard and Dr Jessica Owugha
Evaluation team: Prof Susie SykesDr Catherine Jenkins, Ms Rita Jacobs, Dr Felicity Morrow,  Richard Ashiagbor, Ms Temi Onasanya

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