Collaborating to improve bereavement support provision in the UK, particularly for minoritised and marginalised ethnic groups


   Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation

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  Dr Katherine Bristowe, Dr Sabrina Bajwah, Prof R Harding, Dr Anna Peeler  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Award: We are delighted to advertise this exciting opportunity of a LISS-DTP CASE PhD studentship (1+3 or +3, full-time or part time). The successful candidate will join a world leading research centre, the Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, Policy & Rehabilitation, King’s College London. 

Background: Around 6 million people in the UK are affected by bereavement each year, however almost one in five people have no support from friends and family in bereavement, and over one in three do not know what support is available. Those from minoritised ethnic groups (whose needs may be overlooked, or who may have less power within society) have additional barriers to accessing support. This can leave them vulnerable to poor outcomes in bereavement, and over time.  

The project: This project will further knowledge of bereavement experiences and the things that may help and hinder people from accessing the support they need. It focuses on minoritised ethnic communities and non-English speakers who already struggle to access bereavement support. This project will include a systematic review of the existing evidence on bereavement experiences for these groups, alongside primary research using focus groups with people from different minoritised ethnic groups. The findings will inform a new theory of minoritised bereavement experience, and resources for professionals and the public to improve access to bereavement support for minoritised ethnic groups. 

The host institution: The CSI was the world’s first purpose-built Institute for palliative care and is committed to reducing inequality. It has an active Equality Diversity and Inclusion executive (led by Dr Bajwah). Recent achievements include an Athena Swan silver award and national recognition for our race equality work. We will continue to drive this work forward within the CSI and wider palliative care.   A key priority includes diversifying our senior leadership team to reflect our PhD and post-graduate staff and students. We welcome applications from candidates from minoritized communities for this studentship.  

Community engagement and collaboration: We will convene an advisory panel of diverse community members to ensure the research remains focused on the priorities of the target communities. This project forms part of an existing collaboration (Project BuildPall) between the CSI and Cicely Saunders International, a charity whose mission is to improve care and support for everyone facing advanced illness and bereavement. Project BuildPall is designed to build capacity in palliative care, expand access, eliminate barriers and improve person-centeredness and cultural competence.  

Studentship Overview 

Primary supervisor: Dr Katherine Bristowe, qualitative methodologist with expertise in widening access to palliative and bereavement care for minoritised groups.  Co-Supervisors: Dr Sabrina Bajwah (Clinical Academic, Diversity and Inclusion Lead, and self identifies as British Pakistani); Professor Richard Harding (Principal Investigator, BuildPall and Director of the Cicely Saunders Institute), and Dr Anna Peeler (BuildPall post-doctoral researcher).  The studentship is available from October 2023 and is restricted to students with ‘Home Fee Status’. It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) through the London Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership (LISS-DTP). Funding is £19,688 per annum (2022-23) full-time or £9,834.00 per annum part-time, plus fees paid for the duration of the award. The studentship is offered as +3 (PhD only) or 1+3 (Masters and PhD) depending on the student’s experience

Training and development: The successful candidate will have access to training and development opportunities: methodological skills training, personal and professional development, and structured learning around the psychosocial needs and cultural needs in bereavement. They will benefit from regular journal clubs, researchers’ exchanges, diversity and inclusion training, academic seminars, a peer support group of PhD students and the King’s College London research skills development programme (skills forge). A conference, dissemination and networking budget will be provided, and there will be regular opportunities to apply for additional funding to support the costs of additional research training and development.   

Applicant Background 

Essential criteria: 

1.         Bachelors degree with 2:1 honours (2:2 degree may be considered only where applicants also offer a Masters with Merit).  

2.         Undergraduate and/or Masters degree in a relevant field, eg. social sciences, psychology, medicine, nursing, social work or other allied health professions, global health or public health. 

3.         Experience of conducting literature reviews, conducting primary qualitative research, and writing peer-reviewed research publications. 

4.         Strong communication and project management skills. 

5.         Ability to work collaboratively, across community and academic groups. 

6.         An understanding of the sensitivities and challenges of palliative care and bereavement research. 

7.         An understanding of the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion. 

Desirable criteria: 

1.         Personal, social or cultural connection to this subject matter. 

2.         Fluency in additional languages commonly spoken by minoritised groups in the UK (eg. Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Arabic and French) 

3.         Personal, social or cultural connections to community groups and networks for minoritized communities in the UK. 

4.         We welcome applications from candidates from minoritized communities.  

Application Process  

Application deadline: 23.59 on 26th February 2023.  To apply, applicants should prepare a single PDF file containing the following materials: 

1.         Completed application form that can be found here  

2.         Completed diversity monitoring form found here 

3.         Cover letter detailing qualifications/experience and interest in the PhD (max 2 A4 sides). 

4.         CV (max 2 A4 sides) with names of two academic referees. 

5.         Sample of written work, demonstrating their ability to work with, analyse and display data (eg. a publication, dissertation, coursework). 

This single PDF file should be sent to: [Email Address Removed]. The email subject should contain the phrase ‘LISS DTP CASE APPLICATION’ and your first name and surname. Please ensure this is sent by 23.59 on 26th February 2023. Any questions should be directed to  [Email Address Removed]. 

 If shortlisted for interview, candidates will need to submit an application through the King’s College London admissions portal. Interviews will most likely take place on the 8th or 9th March (TBC) in person or by video conference. Interview Candidates will be asked to prepare a five-minute presentation outlining why the subject of this PhD is important, and their personal motivations for applying.  

Medicine (26) Nursing & Health (27) Psychology (31) Sociology (32)

Funding Notes

The studentship is available from October 2023 and is restricted to students with ‘Home Fee Status’. It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) through the London Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership (LISS-DTP). Funding is £19,688 per annum (2022-23) full-time or £9,834.00 per annum part-time, plus fees paid for the duration of the award. The studentship is offered as +3 (PhD only) or 1+3 (Masters and PhD) depending on the student’s experience.
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