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UEL lecturer will present study in Parliament on low birth-weight in Newham

students in lab

An inspiring University of East London (UEL) lecturer who came to academia late in life will visit Parliament to present pioneering research on tackling low birth-weight in Newham.

Public Health lecturer Hayley Edwardson, 45, has been working with UEL’s Institute for Health and Human Development (IHHD) on a project investigating the reasons for Newham’s high rate of low birth-weight in babies and how to improve the situation.

She said, “I organised a knowledge exchange workshop bringing together researchers, professionals and parents in the patient and public involvement group, in order to seek solutions and support public health improvements, which was part of the final phase of the project.

“Some of the topics discussed were sensitive, but creating a forum where all could be heard was empowering for the participants, and has helped plan the next steps.

“Getting to present the research and what we’re trying to do in Parliament will be a great opportunity.”

Mrs Edwardson was offered the opportunity to present to Parliament on 20 February after being named one of two winners at a recent research poster event at UEL.

Newham has one of the highest proportions in England of babies born with low birth-weight – three per cent above the national average.

The project is a collaboration between UEL’s IHHD and UCLPartners, Newham Clinical Commissioning Group, Barts Health NHS Trust, London Borough of Newham and Newham University Hospital.

Mrs Edwardson has excelled academically and professionally despite being ‘written off’ at the age of 14 when she had the first of her eight children. 

Her career has included work with the British Red Cross and with Norfolk County Council supporting teenage mothers in Norfolk. She lives in Suffolk.

The desire to underpin her practical experience with an academic grounding led Mrs Edwardson to UEL in 2012, where she studied for a BSc in Public Health.

She said, “I had the chance to work on several community projects such as teaching migrants in the Calais jungle, and trying to improve the maternal outcomes for Somali mothers in Newham. It enriched and informed my studies a lot.”

She graduated with a first-class degree, which she followed with a post-graduate certificate in university teaching, which was also undertaken at UEL.

In addition to her research, she lectures undergraduates about public health and the unique opportunities that east London offers students in the field.

She said, “I love UEL. I’ve had an amazing experience both as a student and now as a lecturer.”

And she’s passed that love to her children. Son Theodore, 25, is currently a student at UEL studying for a BSc in Health Promotion.