Unseen Hands – Communications & Engagement Officer – 15 December 2023


Name Unseen Hands, part of MRC – University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research in partnership with University of Edinburgh
Placement base location Virtual with optional visits to both Universities
Website www.cvr-engagement.co.uk/unseen-hands
Contact for enquiries Faye Watson
Contact details Email: faye.watson@Ed.ac.uk (and cc in Lois.Mason@glasgow.ac.uk)
Telephone: (+44) 07793442977
Placement job title Communications & Engagement Officer
Potential start date Ideally March – May 2024
Potential working pattern Daily work pattern: 8 hrs (inc. 1hr lunch)
Total hours per week: 35
Full Time
Details of application method CV and short covering letter
Application closing date 15 December 2023
Overview of PIPS organisation

The MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) is home to an internationally leading critical mass of virologists, entirely focused on the study of human viral diseases and viruses at the human-animal interface. Established in 2010 as a partnership between the University and the Medical Research Council (MRC), the CVR contributes to national virology capability and supports the global response to viruses and the diseases they cause.

We have an international reputation for our innovative approaches to addressing wide-ranging fundamental challenges of relevance to any virus impacting global health. Our research is advancing understanding of the fundamental biology of viruses, how they emerge and move from animals to humans, and how they enter and spread through communities and cause disease.

Since 2010, the CVR has made significant contributions to the study of multiple viruses including hepatitis C, herpes simplex, human cytomegalovirus, influenza, rabies, bunyaviruses, dengue fever, Ebola, Zika, and viruses infecting animals, such as cats, horses or ruminants. This has involved the development of novel virus control strategies and facilities which accelerate antiviral drug discovery. Recently, we have been focussing our efforts on the fight against COVID-19.

Partner host institution, the University of Edinburgh College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine comprises two schools: the Edinburgh Medical School and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. Together they form a unique grouping in the UK where vets, medics and biomedical scientists work together and study the common causes of disease that affect our populations.

Placement offered

Communications and Engagement Officer (Unseen Hands)

The Unseen Hands project is a partnership between the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR), the University of Edinburgh, the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and Waverley Care. The project aims to bring together researchers and people with lived experience of a blood-borne virus (BBV) such as HIV and Hep C to break down barriers and encourage communication to address and reduce stigma and discrimination. We hope to create safe spaces for the sharing of individual lived experience to inform research practice, and improve service provision for people living with a BBV in Scotland.

As part of this project, project lead Faye Watson is heading to Botswana, South Africa (and hopefully Malawi) to experience successful community engagement projects reducing BBV transmission and stigma funded by a Churchill Fellowship. This will inform what services we need to provide in Scotland, as for example, in Scotland 1 in 5 people who live with HIV identify as African, but there is only one role supported by one charity for all ethnic minority communities.

We are therefore looking for a Communications and Engagement Officer to support us in the dissemination of this project and driving future directions. We hope that someone can join us from March to May 2024, and be co-supervised between Faye and Lois at the CVR to support the evolving needs of this project. This will include:

  • Creating engaging and accessible resources to disseminate the findings of this project (often in partnership with the third sector partners)
  • Creating content for project social media channels (including new Instagram @UnseenHandsScotland)
  • Supporting the development of training resources for third sector partners.
  • Support events such as roundtable discussions with multiple stakeholders including MPs, third sector organisations, funders and researchers from across Scotland (travel would be required, but this can be optional).
  • Supporting the organisation and delivery of public engagement events for our project participants including artistic workshops, dialogue workshops and talks (virtual and in-person options).

This is not an exhaustive list, the project is ever-evolving and we encourage someone to share their ideas and are very happy to take suggestions and explore new directions with them. This project was made possible by a SWBio PIPS student in 2021, and has already included:

  • Journey of a Blood Sample: A series of short video’s exploring the journey of a blood sample into research
  • Art Installation: Artwork co-produced by researchers and people with lived experience of HIV and Hep C exploring each person’s individual puzzle piece in the fight against blood-borne viruses.
  • Future roundtable: A multi-stakeholder workshop discussing the future of BBV research and support in Scotland.

Puzzle pieces 2.0: A continuation of the art installation in partnership with the Lothian Health Service Archive’s with folks from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Person specification
  • Strong communications skills
  • Good IT skills
  • Experience of basic graphic design (not essential)
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Passion for improving people’s quality of life
  • Understanding of equality, diversity and inclusion principles (training will also be provided)
Financial contribution/benefit(s)

We will support the student to attend training in relation to the skills they will require for this placement. We also run many project-related training events internally which they will be welcome to attend. There are also lots of offers within both host Universities.

We are happy to discuss other opportunities available to the student in terms of conference and event attendance.