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29th May, 2019

Dr Nicola Abraham and Students recognised as ‘Nation’s Lifesavers’ for National MadeAtUni Campagin


Congratulations to Dr Nicola Abraham and her team of MA Applied Theatre students who have been recognised for their exceptional work with the Imperial Hospital Trust and Hammersmith Hospital – and for their contribution to keeping the nation healthy.

Dr Abraham, a Lecturer at Central in Applied Theatre Practices, and her students have been named as some of the Nation’s Lifesavers – the top 100 individuals or groups based in universities whose work is saving lives and making a life-changing difference to our health and wellbeing.  They have been recognised as part of Universities UK’s MadeAtUni campaign, which brings to life the impact of universities on everyday lives.

During the Spring of 2018, MA Applied Theatre Students from Central, in collaboration with Nurses and Ward Staff at Hammersmith Hospital, worked with patients on the hospital’s Acute Dialysis Ward (Auchi Ward) on an applied theatre project to improve patient wellbeing and ease their stay and treatment period in hospital.  The project was devised by Dr Abraham Abraham and coordinated by Joanne James (Head Dementia Nurse, Imperial Trust) and Maura Applebe (Acute Dialysis Matron).

Central’s students worked creatively to deliver participatory workshops with patients confined to their beds, and this work resulted in the creation of a film collectively devised with patients on Auchi Ward. To the team’s knowledge, it is the first project of this nature to take place on an acute dialysis ward, and the project is now in its second iteration with a new cohort of student participants.

Applied theatre is a core part of the work undertaken by Central.  Dr Abraham’s project highlights the exceptional collaborative, transformative and rehabilitative aims of an applied theatre practice.

The UUK’S MadeAtUni campaign is recognising the Nation’s Lifesavers who are fighting diseases, helping new parents and children enjoy the best start in life, supporting older people and improving our mental health and welling.  Universities from across the country were invited to nominate an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the nation’s health and wellbeing.  Over 100 universities submitted a nomination.

Dr Nicola Abraham, Central’s Lecturer in Applied Theatre Practices, said:

“I am delighted and really overwhelmed to have this level of recognition for our Applied Theatre project with dialysis patients. Huge thanks to Imperial, Head Dementia Nurse Jo James for helping to set up the project, and the amazing staff who work tirelessly to support the brilliant creative dialysis patients on the ward. Huge thanks and congratulations to our MA Applied Theatre graduates who co-ran the project, Ellen Gould, Rachel Hudspith and Immy Davis and all the performers who took part in the film created for the project. I hope that people read this story and recognise the power of Applied Theatre in Health contexts and feel as inspired as we were when we first met the ward team and patients at Hammersmith Hospital”.

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, said:

“When people think of lifesavers they tend to focus on the dedication and skill of our doctors, nurses, carers, and paramedics – many of whom are trained at universities. Every day, up and down the country, universities are also working on innovations to transform and save lives. Research taking place in universities is finding solutions to so many of the health and wellbeing issues we care about and the causes that matter. By proudly working in partnership with charities, the NHS and healthcare organisations, universities are responsible for some of our biggest health breakthroughs and in revolutionising the delivery of care. This campaign is a chance to bring to life the wonderful and often unexpected work going on every day in our universities and to celebrate some of the people working to make a life-changing difference to the nation.”

Research shows the public are proud of UK universities but have little understanding of the benefits they bring, with most not being aware that UK academics are behind many of the discoveries that save lives and keep us healthy. The MadeAtUni campaign gives the public an insight into some of this work and celebrates those who made it happen. More information on the campaign can be found on its dedicated website.

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