Meet a Public Partner

Victoria Bartle

Tell us a bit about your background.

I grew up in Newcastle, in the suburbs, but surrounded by animals. We went whippet racing every weekend, had other dogs, cats, birds and various smaller pets which kept me and my sister entertained. I loved ballroom dancing and drama and then went to University in Twickenham to do a drama degree. After graduating, I worked in retail and moved back to the North East. I have worked in restaurants and hotels around the region and moved to a job working in welfare, as I wanted to give back more than I was able to in the corporate world. I worked with people on long term sickness benefits helping them get back to work if possible, and then had to leave work in 2016 due to my own health conditions.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time, I love going to the cinema, theatre and to see live comedy. Lauren Pattinson is one of my favourite local comedians, she’s very funny and talks a lot about mental health which I think is a very important way to break down stigma. I also spend a lot of time with my friends and family and love having fun with my nephews, godsons and my friends’ kids. I am the fun aunty who makes up bizarre stories, sings songs and will read “the poo in the zoo” book as many times as they want.

How did you get involved in the Fuse public partner network?

I heard about the Fuse public partner network through my other public involvement with the National Institute for Health and care Research (NIHR). I am a research champion with the local Clinical Research Network and love participating in health and social care research to try and improve things for the future.

What areas of public health research are you particularly interested in?

I am particularly interested in research into areas which have affected my friends, family and myself directly. Multiple long term conditions, rare and incurable conditions, chronic pain and chronic fatigue are top of my list. Mental health and holistic healthcare, taking into account the whole person and not just one condition, is, I believe, the way forward for medical care. Social care was a challenge for me when I required carers myself, and again when I supported a friend with her care. So this is an area that is very important to me, to help to make improvements so that others don’t have to have similar experiences to ours.

Have you been involved in research before?

I have only been a member of the Fuse public partner network for a short time, but I have already had a number of really interesting and varied opportunities to get involved in research. I am currently working with researcher Emma Adams on a systematic review which has been something new for me; I read 426 titles and abstracts in one day as I became so engaged by the task and determined to find some papers that would be useful to the study. I have hosted the first two episodes of the Fuse podcast, and participated on one of the panels at the recent Fuse conference, roles that have enabled me to learn something and chat to people which are two of my favourite things to do. Most recently I have been appointed co-chair of the Fuse Public Involvement and Engagement Group which I am really looking forward to starting in December 2022.

I first became involved in research by being a member of the Voice advisory group for 4 years, giving feedback to researchers about their projects. As my knowledge and experience grew, I applied for more roles and am now working part time as a public contributor in research in a number of different ways. I am a member of an NIHR Funding Committee, I sit on the Editorial Board for NIHR journal alerts, am a member of the Clinical Research Network Commissioning Centre strategic Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) group and a member of the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) strategic PPI group. I have recently been appointed to the Local Clinical Research Network Partnership group and also participate in a number of trials as a co-applicant, PPI lead and a PPI member. 

Why is having your voice heard in public health research important to you?

As a person with disabilities due to Multiple Long Term Conditions I feel that my experiences are useful and relevant in a variety of health and social care areas and can support research to identify and implement improvements that will ultimately benefit people like me. 

What one piece of advice would you share with someone curious about public involvement and engagement?

It is vital to hear from people with lived experience of the areas being researched in order to create projects, trials and improvements that are realistic, relevant and important to those of us who live with the issues. If we are not involved then researchers may not know the most important areas to investigate and what would help improve our quality of life. Anyone can have relevant health and social care lived experience, and if you communicate it to researchers then your input could help make changes for the future.

Last modified: Tue, 06 Dec 2022 15:41:25 GMT