Felicity Thomas News

New PhD Students join the Wellcome Centre

26 July 2021

As the old academic year draws to a close, and we begin to prepare for the new academic year starting in September, WCCEH are delighted to announce the appointment of a new cohort of PhD students to join the Wellcome Centre during the 2021/22 academic year.

Four of these students are funded by our core grant, following our successful extension earlier this year, and all of the cohort will be working on projects with a transdisciplinary, engaged basis.

Working on our Healing City research theme, we welcome Ben Addy: a sustainable transport and community engagement practitioner – currently based at SUSTRANS in London. He has an interdisciplinary background, including degrees in politics, creative writing, and international studies. At WCCEH, Ben will pursue a project on the concept of “healthy streets” in London, which describes the renewed prioritisation of walking, cycling and public transport access across; drawing on data from  arrange of London boroughs, Ben’s project re-thinks this development from an inequalities perspective, arguing that diverse communities are positioned differently by healthy streets initiatives; at the heart of his project is thus an attempt to think about what a more critical and collaborative community-based approach to creating healthy streets in London could look like. Ben will be working with Des Fitzgerald.

We also welcome Lucía Guerrero Rivière, who will be working with Judy Green on the Transitions across the Life Course research theme. Following her undergraduate studies in Biomedical Engineering at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, Lucía went on to do an MA in Cultural Studies at the same university. Most recently, she completed an exchange programme at Wesleyan University, where she also worked as a Foreign Language Teaching Assistant.  She is thrilled to be starting a Ph.D. fellowship at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health. She will be looking at disability and debilitation in the context of the Colombian post-conflict. Specifically, she aims to examine the place of disability (especially as a result of political violence) in Colombia’s political transition and the narratives and practices that it has involved. More generally, she is interested in social studies of science and medicine, especially where medical technologies, their histories, and their biases are concerned.

Our final two PhD students will be working with Felicity Thomas on our Transforming research themes: Institutions, Relations and Engagement.

Robin Jakob will be looking at public health discourses around women living complex lives and how their experiences of health and the criminal justice system intersect. He has worked in public health for the last ten years in campaigns, policy and service delivery. This includes time as a sexual health worker and campaigner and as a Public Health Practitioner for local government. He is interested in progressive evidenced-based, public health policy and how this can be shaped by centring lived experience.

Laura Werner was awarded a Masters in Creative Writing by the University of Exeter in 2020. She is a poet and is particularly interested in writing that examines the treatment of the female body in the contexts of pain and illness. Her PhD project, Uterine Poetics, will research lived experience of endometriosis. She lives with her family near Dartmouth where she enjoys running, swimming, paddle boarding and generally being active outside.

The Centre is also delighted to welcome PhD students Cathrin Fischer and Juanita Navarro Paez, who will be joining the Imagining Technologies for Disability Futures project and the Shame and Medicine project respectively, under the tutelage of Luna Dolezal.

Cat began on July 1st, and her project will bring together phenomenological and crip-queer-feminist methods to investigate the lived experience of disability, especially in relation of prosthesis. Prostheses at once encompass a curative, medicalised approach to disability and a crip-queer possibility in the way that body, environment, and technology is used and related to. She therefore aims to examine the experience of those who use prosthesis, and how they imagine prostheses to feature in the future. More generally, she is interested in interdisciplinary philosophical approaches which centre the lived, bodily experience of marginalised people and challenge normative assumptions.

Juanita’s project will explore how shame and shaming in medicine are represented through comics from an intersectional perspective. Comics, being a media that combines text and image, offer important communicative tools that allow for in-depth discussions of topics that could be considered taboo or overly complicated, both for authors and audiences. Moreover, they are commonly used by marginalised groups to make their own personal or collective stories known and regain control over their narratives. More generally, she is interested in popular media analysis.

Our final PhD student in the cohort will also join us from September, and will be working with Dora Vargha on her Connecting Three Worlds project.

Felicity Thomas News

Intercultural competence migrant training approved by WHO now available online

27 August 2020

Following the publication earlier this year of the World Health Organization’s toolkit for Migration and Health, we are pleased to share that the toolkit has now also been turned into a MOOC (massive online open course) through the WHO.

The Centre’s Deputy Director for Learning, Dr Felicity Thomas, authored the initial report in close partnership with the Evidence for Health and Well-being in Context (EHC) project team at the WHO Regional Office for Europe. This is a long-standing partnership created through the WHO Collaborating Centre for Culture and Health, which is also located at WCCEH, and of which Dr Thomas is Co-Director.

Overseeing the translation of the work from report to MOOC took longer than planned, but the training is now available online, for free to interested parties. The MOOC offers healthcare practitioners “an accessible introduction to the key concepts underpinning intercultural competence and diversity sensitivity” as well as the opportunity to explore methods, techniques, and actions to put this into practice.

The online course takes roughly two and a half hours, and currently has over 2,000 students enrolled upon it.

Felicity Thomas News

New study identifies problems with mental health self-referral system

20 November 2019

People with anxiety or depression who go to see the GP are often given a leaflet with numbers for psychological services and advised to give them a call. This system of “self-referral” for common mental health problems has been in place for more than 10 years. In sheer numbers terms, it appears to have been a great success. But a new study has identified a problem.

Felicity Thomas spoke to BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme about problems some people, particularly those on low incomes, experience with self-referral.

Listen to the programme here. Felicity’s segment starts at 12:24.


Felicity Thomas News

DE-STRESS Project shortlisted for Mind Media Award

13 November 2019

Congratulations to Centre members Felicity Thomas and Lorraine Hansford!

A series of items about antidepressant use on Radio 4’s PM programme, which featured De-Stress, a collaborative project between the universities of Exeter and Plymouth (funded by Economic and Social Research Council and supported by PenARC), has been shortlisted for an award at the Mind Mental Health awards. Held annually, the awards recognise and celebrate the best possible representations of mental health on television, radio, print and online media.

More information here


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