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University of Reading

Postdoctoral Research Associate for Public Health

Job description

The Transforming the UK Food System Strategic Priority Fund (TUKFS-SPF) is delivered by UKRI, in partnership with the Global Food Security Programme, BBSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, Defra, DHSC, PHE, Innovate UK and the FSA. It aims to fundamentally transform the UK food system by placing healthy people and a healthy natural environment at its centre, addressing questions around what we should eat, produce and manufacture and what we should import, taking into account the complex interactions between health, environment and socio-economic factors. FoodSEqual was one of the first recipients of the TUKFS-SPF funding and sets out to co-develop a healthy, sustainable food system that is accessible and affordable for citizens of disadvantaged communities together with multiple university, food industry, charity and third sector partners. FoodSEqual-Health is an additional funding stream awarded to FoodSEqual in which we will conduct an intervention over 18 months that tackles some aspects underpinning health inequalities. In the proposed research we will test the Fresh Street intervention, which retains citizen choice, but which overcomes barriers of affordability and access that otherwise prevent healthy diets to be consumed. Critically, the intervention promotes linkage of different agencies (local government, food retailers, NHS trusts and community organisations) with each other and with citizens. This approach enables us to test the power of coordinated action on addressing the causes of health inequalities.
The intervention combines an area-based voucher scheme for fresh F&V (Fresh Street) with provision of mobile F&V vendors and two voucher delivery methods in Reading and Plymouth. FoodSEqual-Health will feasibility test the scheme in food deserts, and to explore the role of citizen-led support via engagement of Food and Health Champions (FHC).
We require a post doctoral research associate to the lead the delivery of the Fresh Street intervention within FoodSEqual-Health, working closely with the communities in Reading and Plymouth and the rest of the project team. The PDRA will also lead the evaluation of the intervention, which is underpinned by a quantitative and qualitative assessment of diet, perception of food affordability/availability and wellbeing, benefits of social engagement, pre, during and after the intervention period, therefore building on the work already taking place within the main FoodSEqual project. You will also drive the process/impact evaluation of the intervention, thereby providing evidence for stakeholders such as local authorities and public health teams on the benefits of funding such schemes.
The successful applicant will have:

  • A background in public health research, evidencing qualitative and/or quantitative research expertise and experience of conducting research in a community setting
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, able to adjust style depending on audience
  • An ability to organise and lead a complex project with a diverse team of people working on it
  • A developing track record of academic publication, complemented by an ability to write and present research to non-academic groups
  • A willingness to work in both sites of the Fresh Street intervention (Reading and Plymouth) supporting the different teams of researchers and partners in each location
    The postholder will work closely with: PI, Prof Carol Wagstaff; Co-I, Dr Clare Pettinger (University of Plymouth); and subcontractor for the Fresh Street intervention, Dr Clare Relton. and support the administration relating to research activity including liaising with partner organisations. The University of Reading supports flexible and remote working patterns and as such the role holder could be based in either Reading or Plymouth, which are the two sites for the Fresh Street intervention.
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