Georgina Binnie

by | Feb 15, 2022

Recruitment and Training Officer, Manchester Cancer Research Centre and Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre

Before joining the Manchester Cancer Research Centre and Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre, I worked as an Impact and Research Fellow (Writing Back Project) at the University of Leeds.

My current role involves administrating the range of PhD schemes offered at the Centres, including implementing a MBPhD programme designed to train the next generation of world-leading clinician scientists.

As an Impact and Research Fellow, I was responsible for investigating the impact of intergenerational letter writing on HE students and older people, who wrote to one another as part of Writing Back, an award-winning scheme that she founded.

With a strong interest in public engagement and student wellbeing, I’m looking forward to developing a new ‘Into Schools’ scheme for postgraduate researchers as part of our MBPhD programme.

Public engagement highlights

In 2014, I founded Writing Back, a scheme that matches undergraduate and international postgraduate students as pen pals with older, Yorkshire residents.

With a cohort of 152 participants, the project continues to be run at the University of Leeds by their International Student Office. Particular highlights included producing two intergenerational plays with Fall into Place, a Leeds-based theatre company, which used Writing Back’s letters as their inspiration.

I further enjoyed hosting celebratory events where pen pals could meet one another in person, with these meetings being variously covered by BBC Radio Leeds and Sheffield, The Guardian and The Yorkshire Post.

Best public engagement advice

Having worked with intergenerational participants, I have learnt to keep an open mind regarding my research.

When founding Writing Back, I had initially thought that my older participants would be the most lonely. Instead, it was the international postgraduate student letter writers for whom loneliness was the most pronounced.

Our PE Team at Leeds further stressed the benefits of promoting knowledge exchanges; I found that my project was at its most successful when older participants were able to share their knowledge of Yorkshire with their student partners, who shared their cultural experiences in return.

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