In summer 2011 we established the UK EHRNet in response to our desire to increase research activity amongst EH professionals, a group which for us includes all those working to maintain and improve environmental health (EH), not just those with traditional EH qualifications. This inclusivity is partly influenced by our own varied backgrounds and experiences (see below) and our desire to avoid the insider/outsider politics of the professions. We also value our independence and have no external funding sources. With the publication of our eBook we have become a not-for-profit organisation and the proceeds from its sales are used to support our research activities.
The EHRNet has three overlapping aims:
- To promote the idea of a research and publication culture in the EH profession
- To develop the research skills of EH professionals
- To offer guidance on how research can be better integrated into policy and practice, i.e. evidence-based environmental health.
The EHRNet vision
To help fulfill our aims we have sketched a two part vision of what a research and evidence-based culture might look like for EH professionals.
Part I – EHRNet dream of a time when environmental health evidence:
- is accessible to all EH professionals and those affected by their decisions;
- informs debate about policy and practice in the classroom, offices and streets;
- shapes EH policy and practice at all levels and alongside professional judgement and the preferences of citizens and the wider public.
Part II – EHRNet also dream of a time when organisations and individuals:
- understand, value and support evidence and research activity;
- welcome criticism, debate and challenge as opportunities to improve EH policy and practice;
- learn how other professions have become more research active and made their practice more evidence based;
- organise to support individuals and organisations with research and direct their research activities towards known gaps and priorities;
- move outside their comfort zones and build stronger links with other public health professionals, researchers and wider society for the benefit of all.
Writing at the end of 2016 we still have a long way to go in the UK, but we are not alone and exciting examples of similar networks in other countries include Canada’s National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health and South Africa’s Environmental Health Research Network.
Caroline Barratt BSc(Hons), MRes, PhD
Caroline is a researcher and lecturer at the University of Essex and has a background in international development. In 2009 she completed her PhD on risk and vulnerability in fishing communities on Lake Victoria, Uganda. Immediately after this she worked with the Medical Research Council, Uganda and spent time as a research associate at WorldFish in Penang, Malaysia. In July 2010 Caroline began working on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Essex and Tendring District Council exploring the mental health of residents of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) to establish the working practices that will support these residents and address knowledge gaps about HMOs and the lives of those living in them. The final report from this project is available via: Barratt et al. 2012 – Bedsit report
Rob Couch PhD, MCIEH
Rob is a researcher at Bangor University with environmental health experience in the public, private, academic and charity sectors including three years in Tanzania, South Africa and Burundi. He is a graduate of the Water Engineering and Development Centre, Loughborough University (http://wedc.lboro.ac.uk) where his re-education in environmental health began. He recently completed his PhD on environmental health regulation in the streets of Johannesburg with the support of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre on Urban Health in this city. His main research interests include evidence-based environmental health and the challenges of urbanisation and environmental health, particularly in African cities.
Surindar Dhesi BSc(Hons), MPH, Dip NEBOSH, PhD, MCIEH, Chartered EHP
Surindar is a lecturer in environmental health at the University of Birmingham and a practicing EHP. She completed her PhD with the Health Policy, Politics and Organisation Research Group of the School of Community Based Medicine at the University of Manchester looking at how Health and Wellbeing Boards were approaching the task of tackling health inequalities, with particular reference to the role of environmental health. Prior to starting her PhD Surindar worked for 10 years in local government including posts as Health & Safety Team Leader at Birmingham City Council and a secondment to the Health and Safety Executive as Midlands Partnership Liaison Officer. Surindar is also a guest lecturer in ‘Communicable Disease and Environmental Health’ on the MPH programme at Oxford Brookes University and her main research interests are in the role of local government in environmental and public health, in particular in tackling health inequalities.
Alan Page BSc (Hons), PGCHE, PG Diploma, D.Prof, MCIEH, Chartered EHP
Alan is a Principal Lecturer in Environmental Health at Middlesex University with a keen interest in the delivery of effective environmental health and regulatory practice in the UK and abroad. He is working with a number of overseas partners to develop environmental health training and new environmental health cadres. Alan completed his professional doctorate in October 2008 and this focused on using the workplace as a mechanism for learning in environmental health. Alan is a Chartered EHP and prior to academia worked for a number of London authorities. He is also the author of the FSA approved training syllabus for Food Control Personnel and co-authored the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) report “The Retail Enforcement Pilot: learning the lessons” and various other LBRO reports.
Jill Stewart BSc (Hons), PGCE, MSc, PhD, MCIEH, FRSPH, FRGS, CIHM
Jill worked as an Environmental Health Officer in local government specialising in private sector housing for several years before moving into academia at the University of Greenwich and now Middlesex University. She currently teaches housing and public health students at undergraduate and post graduate levels and her interests including the interfaces of public health and housing and the effectiveness of contemporary practitioner interventions in areas including housing regeneration, social exclusion and housing support and provision in the developing world. Jill has published two books, co-edited one book and written book chapters and over 35 peer reviewed and professional papers. Following her PhD she pioneered the development of the Private Sector Housing Evidence Base, a joint partnership between the University of Greenwich and the CIEH hosted on the myCIEH website. Jill also edited the recently published Effective Strategies and Interventions: environmental health and the private housing sector which includes sections by many first time authors and is available via: http://www.cieh.org/policy/default.aspx?id=46518.