Bright and early on Saturday morning Jo, Darren, Liz and Michael set off for London to discuss the preliminary findings in our National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded evidence synthesis, #tlc4ltc, with children and young people and their parents.

#tlc4ltc is a project which has been running since January 2016 and aims to synthesise quantitative (numbers) and qualitative (words) research about interventions to improve the mental health of children and young people with long term physical conditions.  We are getting close to completing the project (final report due 14th April 2017) and are keen to find out whether our interpretations of the evidence make sense to people who really understand what it is like to experience both mental and physical health conditions.

We have a series of meetings planned over the next month or so with a whole spectrum of people with relevant views and experiences and Saturday was the turn of the most important people of all!  At the start of the project we recruited a group of children and young people based at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and this is the third time we’ve met with them to talk about the project.  On this occasion we also had the pleasure of talking to their parents in an adjoining room.  We mostly talked about the findings from the qualitative review – asking whether the issues and themes that we have seen in the published literature are reflected in their experiences.  Time flew as we listened and made notes, humbled by the generosity of individuals to share their thoughts and experiences.  The children and young people took part in an innovative activity led by Darren, involving the creation of spider diagrams and aided by sandwiches, cake, other sugar-laden child-friendly delicacies and some token fruit!  All too soon it was time to make plans for our next and final meeting due to take place in March where we hope to record material for a podcast.

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Darren and Liz then had a dash across town to a Young Persons Mental Health Forum meeting. This was to present our research aims and findings to a larger group of young people. We received some really useful feedback on issues we need to consider when presenting our results from the review of qualitative research to ensure that young people can make sense of it easily. Again, the experience and knowledge of this group was inspiring.  Meanwhile Jo and Michael retreated to a local coffee shop to write up the notes from the morning (and keep track of an important football match #LIVWOL).

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Darren and Liz then took the tube to Paddington to catch the train home, thus escaping the hail storm which had enveloped Jo and Michael who had elected to walk to the station! The entire train journey home was spent discussing the ideas and themes which had come out of the day. We couldn’t believe how quickly the time had flown by. We feel very lucky to we have this opportunity to involve young people in our research. It has made us even more determined to ensure that their experiences are reflected by our work and that the findings make a difference!

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