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PhD researcher on secondment at County Durham Sport (January to March 2021) – Sophie Phillips (Durham University)

Dr. Rachel Mowbray (Insight Coordinator, County Durham Sport)

Sophie’s PhD research is all about measuring movement-related behaviours of pre-school aged children. Sophie has been on a three-month secondment at County Durham Sport, this has included: reviewing and communicating early years physical activity research and provision, analysing local health data to identify priority areas for physical activity intervention, and collaborating with the Durham Research Methods Centre (Durham University) to identify predictors of inactivity using data from Sport England’s Active Lives Surveys. I asked Sophie all about her time with us at County Durham Sport.

What have you enjoyed the most about your secondment at County Durham Sport?

I have really enjoyed contributing to a variety of different projects which can directly improve the knowledge and practical application of physical activity locally. I have also really valued gaining insight into the physical activity and broader health landscape of County Durham and meeting different people working around these topics.

Are there any new skills or ways of working which you have learned on secondment that you will now use in your academic work?

I have developed my skills with translating academic evidence to non-academic audiences; to extract information from academic papers and translate this into something meaningful for stakeholders who work closely with the local community. This has given me a different perspective on my own ways of working, not only practically in terms of how I want to continue with community-led research, but also the importance of presenting academic research through different means to communicate with partners and stakeholders.

Which partners have you been engaging with during your time at CDS?

I have had the opportunity to engage with more partners and stakeholders than I could have imagined! I have not only had the chance to work alongside and learn from colleagues at County Durham Sport, but I have also worked with Durham County Council staff who conduct physical activity, early years and health related work. I have also had the opportunity to have insightful discussions with providers of early years physical activity programmes and be involved with conversations around new physical activity initiatives.

What do you think are the biggest benefits of collaboration between academic and non-academic partners?

I think there is so much that we can learn from each other. Collaborating means: having the opportunity to view things through a ‘different lens’; determining how we can align and challenge our ways of thinking; and working together to effectively achieve the same goals of helping people to be more active and to reduce health inequalities.

We would like to thank Dr. Iain Lindsey and Dr. Caroline Dodd Reynolds (Sport and Exercise Science Department, Durham University) for securing funding for this post and for their continued support. The secondment was funded by UKRI QR Strategic Priorities Fund, awarded through Durham University.