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Public Engagement

Sores, Spores and Sickly Bugs

Sores, Spores and Sickly Bugs

Centre for Public Engagement Large Awards 2014

Written by Rosalind Croker, 
Project Coordinator at Centre of the Cell

Over the course of last year, Centre of the Cell worked with a group of 14-18 year olds from East London to support their research project into the East End’s medical history, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Aiming to understand and translate key changes in practice and knowledge to share with family audiences at Centre of the Cell, the group committed to weekly workshops with additional school holiday sessions and museum visits over the course of a year.

The group worked with the team at the Royal London Hospital Museum and Archives to investigate archival material and uncover fascinating facts and stories to inspire their workshop for families and related webpages. They visited medical exhibitions at the Wellcome Collection, Hunterian and Old Operating Theatre museum to gather further stories of medical practice past and present and developed an understanding of how art can be used for the communication of science. The team selected four aspects of medical history they found particularly interesting, and each was used to create a station for the workshop: ‘Anaesthetics’, ‘Children & Disease’, ‘Equipment & Antisepsis’, and ‘Disease & the East End’.

They took part in training with the Centre of the Cell’s learning team to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding of how to design and lead sessions for family audiences and worked as a team to create scripts, costumes and props. After a lot of practice, confidence building and communication skills soared and a nervous but well-rehearsed project team tested the workshop at live family audiences at the Watney Market Idea Store.

The two tester sessions attracted over 100 participants, who hugely enjoyed the interactive games and quizzes and gave useful feedback for developing the workshop further. After further rehearsals and making changes to the workshop the team launched the workshops during the Easter holidays, which proved very popular with families.

Following their success, the team created and delivered an intensive training programme to train a team of young people from Centre of the Cell’s Youth Mentoring Scheme to lead the workshop over the summer holidays.

The Sores, Spores and Sickly Bugs Project Team

The Sores, Spores and Sickly Bugs Project Team

They described the experience as ‘challenging but so much fun’, and they all gained a deeper understanding of what is involved in organising event and working with a team, as well as developing their communication and presentation skills. They had to work together overcome issues such as time constraints and audience members talking over them, and as a result they developed new friendships and met a huge variety of people, which they described as ‘exciting and a completely unique experience’.


Centre of the Cell have recently been awarded another grant from HLF to support young people in researching and creating activities to disseminate ideas around medicine and innovation during WW1. 

Visit the ‘Sores, Spores & Sickly Bugs’ website to find out more and to see fun facts and videos put together by the project team of young people. 

The ‘Sores, Spores & Sickly Bugs’ project was highly commended at the Queen Mary Awards for Public Engagement and Enterprise 2014.

Centre of the Cell have an Easter programme full of new workshops and shows that can be viewed and booked on their Eventbrite page. To find out more about the Centre itself you can visit their freshly redesigned website.

By Rosalind Croker
Project Coordinator
Centre of the Cell, Queen Mary University of London



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