SKP@GTC in the times of COVID-19

In December 2020, the Sheila Kitzinger programme invited proposals for events and workshops that make the best of the need to assemble virtually. Proposals were welcomed that aimed to build on Sheila’s work and broad interests and the concerns that she championed. Please visit the main Sheila Kitzinger homepage for more details about the aims of the programme. Applicants were encouraged to think creatively about how they might use the support from SKP@GTC to run an event or activity. We particularly welcomed proposals with well-planned outputs that aimed to assemble different perspectives, stimulate discussion and shift thinking.

Addressing childhood malnutrition during the COVID-19 pandemic

One project as part of this initiative is from Dr Shobi Nagraj on Addressing childhood malnutrition during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Shobi Nagraj is a senior collaborator with NNedPro (a Nutrition Research and Education Think Tank) and is a member of the International Association of Nutrition Educators (IANE).

Dr Nagraj has secured funding under the SKP to bring together multi-sectoral stakeholders to address childhood malnutrition during and after the pandemic, with a focus on the local food strategy in Oxfordshire. This programme of work will bring together local grassroots organisations, academics, scientific & policy experts, local schools, health and social care professionals and civil society organisations in Oxfordshire, to discuss the systemic issues around childhood malnutrition during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, from a variety of perspectives. See details of the Sheila Kitzinger Programme on Childhood Malnutrition: From grassroots to policy action.

There are opportunities for hands-on research and data gathering to inform the Food Strategy for Oxfordshire in partnership with Goodfood Oxfordshire and Oxfordshire City Council, and wider opportunities to volunteer with local community groups, food banks and sustainable agriculture initiatives, as part of this programme.

See project details and sign up to volunteer.

Engaging Eastern/Central European migrants with newly and/or unsettled immigration status in palliative care research

This workshop focused on creating novel ideas to engage Eastern European migrants with unsettled and/or newly immigration status in palliative care research. This population is particularly vulnerable due to economic status, language barriers, employment and immigration issues. They are seldom heard and marginalised within research and British society.
The two-stage workshop held in late April 2021 and early 2022 created practical ideas for engaging this population in planned research and novel ideas more broadly for population-engagement, which will be disseminated using charity partners (see above).

People with ‘unsettled immigration status’ include people who have overstayed their visas or whose asylum claims have been rejected or EU nationals without settled status (e.g. not retained worker status). Newly settled’ migrants may include those who have received indefinite leave to remain, but are still within a probationary period with no recourse to public funds; or those whose probation period has ended but are still facing challenges with housing and employment. These groups have limited access to and awareness of healthcare, in particular palliative care. There is a lack of evidence and these groups are seldom heard in research. Within this group, Eastern and Central European migrants are particularly under-researched; face engagement barriers; and may not be GP registered. Post-Brexit, EU nationals will need to apply for Settled Status (EUSS). However, many lack the information, money, time and language skills to do so. Additionally, the pandemic has meant many have lost their income and may suffer with health issues. This two-stage workshop created novel ideas on engaging Eastern/Central European migrants with newly/unsettled immigration status in palliative care research.

See the interim report

Women in the Criminal Justice system and social care: restoring services in pregnancy and early motherhood, in and beyond the pandemic

A network has been established to provide opportunities for dialogue, to share best practice, policy solutions and academic research, with a focus on women and children caught between different systems of justice. This network was established by Birth Companions with the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research at Lancaster University in 2021, with initial funding from the Sheila Kitzinger Programme.

A first national conference was held on the 5th of October 2021 with a specific focus on support for women who are pregnant or have a new baby, and who are involved with children’s social care and/or the family justice system and the criminal justice system. The title of the first conference was Building bridges between maternity, social care, and criminal justice to support pregnancy and early motherhood.

Involvement with multiple systems and services can lead to women either being overwhelmed by the demands of different practitioners or getting lost between gaps in services. Alternatively, women and their babies can receive the best of joined up solutions that optimise maternal and baby health, safety and wellbeing. The conference attracted an excellent group of speakers and workshop leads who shared insights about practice challenges, but also examples of excellent practice solutions.

More information

‘after birth’: learning and developing research opportunities from a play about maternal mental health and motherhood

The Sheila Kitzinger Programme hosted a private performance at The North Wall Arts Centre of the play ‘after birth’ followed by a panel discussion.

Aimed at Oxford Brookes University midwifery students, the Green Templeton community and interested clinicians/academics, this was an opportunity to see sell-out play ‘after birth’, which was developed in Oxford by theatre company Maiden Moor Productions, in collaboration with academics from the University of Oxford’s National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU), national charity Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) and women with lived experience. ‘after birth’ is a dark comedy, with a feminist take on maternal mental health and motherhood – it’s also a story of recovery and hope, rooted in the stories of the many women who experienced psychosis after the birth of their babies and shared their stories with the production.

The performance was followed by a Q&A panel session with those involved chaired by Associate Professor Rachel Rowe of NPEU, University of Oxford. Audience members were be able to find out more about how the play was developed and get involved in discussion about the potential for the play to be used in therapeutic, educational or public health contexts.


  • Dr Rachel Rowe (Chair), NPEU
  • Professor Fiona Alderdice, Senior Social Scientist, NPEU
  • Leona Allen, actor, Maiden Moor
  • George Fletcher, actor, Maiden Moor
  • Zena Forster, writer, Maiden Moor
  • Dr Jess Heron, Director, APP
  • Dr Judy Shakespeare, retired Oxford GP and former RCGP Clinical Champion in Perinatal Mental Health
  • Sally Tatum, actor, Maiden Moor

Read the write up

Multiagency working to protect vulnerable children in the COVID era: What have we learnt? What should we do now?

Safeguarding comprises actions taken to promote people’s welfare and protect them from harm. Multi-agency working and communication are essential for effective safeguarding.

The pandemic has created and exacerbated, challenges faced by children and young people (CYP), impacting on education/employment and health and increasing the need for safeguarding (especially for CYP with additional vulnerabilities for example, living in households affected by domestic violence, poverty or parental mental illness).

COVID has required remote working by social and health care (primary, secondary and mental health) services. While schools were open to vulnerable CYP, uptake of places was low. Agencies who support CYP developed safeguarding strategies and resources during the pandemic. Our proposed participants are specialists who have developed/informed agency specific guidance and research about safeguarding. We want to bring them together to share learning and best practice and develop cross-agency guidance. We will seek to identify important/emerging gaps in knowledge and policy and identify shared goals for outputs including research and policy needs or priorities.

Read the published blog

Read the report

More information

Further outputs from the successful proposals will be added to this webpage in due course.

Informal discussions welcome: please contact Ruth Loseby or Yoland Johnson.

For all general queries, if you are unable to access the application form or if you require further assistance, please contact

Sheila Kitzinger Programme on Childhood Malnutrition: From grassroots to policy action

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Multiagency working to protect vulnerable children in the COVID era: What have we learnt? What should we do now?

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Dr Shobi Nagraj – Addressing childhood malnutrition during the COVID-19 pandemic

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