A blog profile introducing Paolo Arru and the importance of The Ideas Fund in Oldham
Paolo is a Project Manager at Vocal, a not for profit organisation hosted by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, which creates opportunities for people to find out about, and have a voice in, health research.
A former University of Manchester student, Paolo has been coordinating creative community events designed to encourage an interest in science, health and research, since graduating with a microbiology degree six years ago. He has run science and arts events and a festival, worked with young people and supported science engagement projects in schools.
Outside of work, Paolo is a volunteer for the support services run by national charity the LGBT Foundation in Greater Manchester.
How would you describe mental wellbeing overall in Oldham? What are the challenges and opportunities?
“Oldham has been impacted massively by the Covid pandemic, having endured some of the toughest social restrictions for a longer time than other areas of the country. Social isolation and unemployment are issues facing all ages in the local community. Services are working hard to respond, but without face-to-face interaction at the moment it is more difficult to reach certain groups and to build trust and connections.”
“Despite this, Oldham remains a vibrant, multi-cultural place, with a strong community network that’s committed to addressing access issues that prevent people from talking about health and what’s important to them.”
What makes Oldham a good fit for The Ideas Fund – are there specific characteristics that mean it is likely that local people will be keen to get involved and put forward ideas?
“Oldham has a very close-knit community with lots of groups already well established and embedded in everyday life. There’s a real interest in talking about health and working together, using existing networks and connections and encouraging the development of new ones.”
“The Ideas Fund has been designed to empower communities who may have not been involved in health research before, to tackle problems that matter to them. I am really excited to see how these projects are going to create meaningful and sustainable relationships between communities and health research. This is a really important opportunity to collaborate together to shape the future of health research so it matches the needs of the local community.”
What difference could The Ideas Fund make in Oldham?
“I hope that the Fund will provide new opportunities for people in Oldham by connecting them with researchers in ways that serve the needs of their own communities. The Ideas Fund will make health research more accessible and ultimately encourage people to have a say in how local services are designed and run.”
How to get in touch
Call or text Paolo on 07816447520 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org