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Photo of young carers wins inaugural images competition

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An image showing two boys walking hand-in-hand alongside their father – who is using a wheelchair – has won the inaugural images competition designed to promote research at the University of Stirling.

Nearly 2,000 people voted for the image, entitled Enabling carers to be active, which was submitted by PhD student Shubhanna Hussain-Ahmed, of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. 

The image, entered in the Living Well category, highlighted behaviour change research to understand and address the barriers carers of all ages face in keeping active.

Shubhanna took the photo of her husband and two sons while they were on holiday in Lincolnshire last summer. Her husband has a neurological condition and their youngest son is autistic.

Shubhanna Hussain-Ahmed with her winning image

Shubhanna Hussain-Ahmed with her winning image.

“We go to the same holiday park each year, because it's one of the few places we know that caters specifically for families living with a disability or long-term health condition,” she said.

“It's perhaps not apparent to many people how hard and time-consuming it can be to plan a family holiday when you also have to consider whether the holiday venue will be accessible for people with physical and learning difficulties – are all of the rooms accessible for a wheelchair user; are there activities to do which are accessible and fun; is there a hospital or medical centre nearby in case the health condition deteriorates during the holiday? 

“On the surface, it looks like a happy holiday snap of a family enjoying a lovely walk on a summer day. What you don't see is the number of people and organisations who played a part in enabling this one moment to happen. For me, this picture represents what can be achieved when health and social care professionals work together with families to address the barriers that we face in accessing something as simple as a walk in the park.” 

She added: “I'm really pleased that this research image competition helped to raise awareness of the barriers that many family carers face in looking after their own health and wellbeing. I was overwhelmed by the response to the image and by the number of people who contacted me to say that the picture really resonated with them. 

“We know that around one in seven people in Scotland currently provide unpaid care to a disabled or ill family member, so perhaps it's not that surprising that so many people, across all sections of society, could relate to the message being conveyed in that one image.”

The second prize went to PhD student Ellie Hopkins, from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, for her image Who’s watching, in the Cultures, Communities and Society category.

The image, which gained 1,600 votes, shows graffiti on a wall to highlight research surveying the proliferation of social documentary photography and photojournalism in modern South Wales.

The third prize was won by PhD student Seonaid MacKay, from the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, for her photo Rural nursing, of a woman walking along a country road – also in the Cultures, Communities and Society category.

With 1,100 votes, this image was linked to research into rural nursing and the interplay between people, profession and place.

A memorable mention went to Katherine Raines, PhD student in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, for her image Trapped Przewalski foal in Chernobyl. Submitted in the category Global Security and Resilience, this image highlighted her research into the ecological consequences of radiation to wildlife.

The results of the competition were announced at the inaugural Research Images awards ceremony on Monday evening, and prizes of £250, £150 and £100 towards research expenses were presented to the three winners by Deputy Principal (Research) Professor Judith Phillips. They also received a framed copy of their image.

Research Development Officer Fiona Millar said: “My colleague, Rachel Beaton, and I are delighted with the engagement our inaugural Research Images competition received. We were pleasantly overwhelmed with the number of votes cast and enjoyed seeing how the top three changed over the voting period.

“Research Images demonstrates an appetite across our research community to disseminate their research in novel and innovative ways that we look forward to continue encouraging.”

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