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Happy Children

(esrc 2020-2022)

Project PI


Prof Monica Lakhanpaul


Principal Investigator (PI)


London, United Kingdom | @ProfLakhanpaul

Professor Monica Lakhanpaul is Professor of Integrated Community Child Health at

UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, Consultant Paediatrician.

She has extensive experience of leading multidisciplinary research teams to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing marginalized, minority and vulnerable families globally through participatory research, citizen science and multisector approaches, ensuring that communities are involved in co- developing holistic integrated solutions for the health and wellbeing challenges they face. She works across the translation pathway from intervention design to implementation; integrating health, education, environment, engineering and the creative arts to address issues such as childhood nutrition, infection, growth and development and mental health, in the UK and low- and middle-income countries.

She was the first Clinical Director of the Collaborating Centre for Women and Children’s Health, developing guidelines for NICE, is Pro-Vice-Provost for South Asia at UCL, is co-director of the Childhood Infections and Pollution (CHIP) consortium and holds many board and advisory positions for local and national government bodies.

“We need to listen, learn and act. Children are our future and it is our duty to provide them with the best start in life. The pandemic should not be allowed to prevent this. We are at risk of failing children living in temporary accommodation..”



Diana Margot Rosenthal


 PhD Student


London, United Kingdom

Diana Margot Rosenthal, MPA, MSc, PhD student 

Project Co-Lead (until March'21), UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health 


Diana Margot Rosenthal studied international health policy and management at the NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and demography at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

She has coordinated many international research projects with a focus on health inequalities, health policy, health behavior, health promotion, shared-decision making, patient-provider interactions and chronic conditions. Research interests include child health, inclusion health, mixed-method approaches, citizen science, co-production and sustainability. Her PhD explores barriers and facilitators to optimal health and health services access for children under-5 experiencing homelessness and living in temporary accommodation. She jointly co-conceptualised the project with other team members. She is committed to working collaboratively across disciplines including the creative arts and public engagement to improve health outcomes.

“There is an urgent need to prevent the COVID-19 crisis from becoming a ‘child rights problem.’ Children experiencing homelessness and living in temporary accommodation can’t be invisible casualties of the pandemic. These children ARE the future, and we can’t risk failing them. We need to work together across sectors with families to bridge the inequality and inequity gaps.”

We would like to thank Diana for her contribution to the conceptualisation of the project, writing of the CHAMPIONS project proposal, and sharing of insights from her PHD research on health and health care service access for under 5s living in temporary accommodation due to experiencing homelessness (U5TA).


Prof Sushma Acquilla



Sushma is Vice-Chair of the Global Health Committee at the UK Faculty of Public Health (FPH) and leads the India Special Interest Group. She is Adjunct Professor of Public Health at Public Health Foundations of India (PHFI) and five associated Indian Institutes of Public Health (IIPH). She is a leader in the development of the National Public Health Leadership Program for England and has also developed and delivered a leadership programme for senior officers in Odisha, India, as part of the Public Health Capacity building programme. She was a major contributor to the development of the National MPH Curriculum for India, working with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW). 


Her contribution to CHAMPIONS is to provide public health advice and access to her wider network to promote any future policy changes.


Prof Paula Lorgelly

Professor Lorgelly is a Professor of Health Economics in the Department of Applied Health Research at UCL. She has nearly 20 years’ experience working in academia in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand (including a visiting position in Germany) and the independent sector in the UK. Whilst in Australia she was a member of the Economics Sub-Committee of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. 

Her research interests focus on outcomes (comparing different HRQoL instruments, eliciting patient preferences and the use of outcomes in outcome-based payment or incentive schemes) and implementation: providing economic analysis that helps inform not just adoption decisions but wider implementation and uptake decisions. 

On this project she will advise on identifying economic evidence and engage with health and social care commissioners to help aid adoption, implementation and scalability. 

"I look forward to helping inform decision makers and commissioners to deliver health and social care improvements to families and their children that are both efficient and equitable."

Daniela Cossio Martinez

Gema Milla De La Fuente

Christen van den Berghe

Rosemary Roberts

Arunima Shrestha

Jingyuan Sun

Priyam Deka

Charlie Firth

Katie Gent

Hyka Shaikh

STUDENTS In the ProJect


Dr Sorcha Mahony


Dr Sorcha Mahony has been doing research with disadvantaged young people and their families for 20 years, both in the UK and abroad. She uses qualitative and ethnographic methods to understand the lived experiences of marginalised groups and uses creative writing techniques to try and engage decision makers in research data. Notable UK projects include a qualitative, longitudinal study of growing up in low income households, a study of the effects of problem debt on children and their families, a study of intra-household resource sharing patterns among families at different points on the socio-economic spectrum, and a study of fuel poverty and the far-reaching, positive psycho-social effects of alleviating it. Notable projects abroad include a study of growing up in slum communities in Bangkok. 

"The Children's Society is thrilled to be part of this important study. It is an extension to our recent research into children's experiences of housing insecurity, and we very much look forward to learning more and using the knowledge we acquire to shape debates and decisions around temporary accommodation for families with children."


Matt Williams


Since graduating from UCL with a BA in modern languages, Matt has been working at a global public health consultancy. There, he has been involved with a global project to improve child health in peri-urban slums as well as supporting COVID-related work. He will be contributing to the CHAMPIONS project with his skills in communications, project management and writing to support the research team. 


“Families and children experiencing temporary accommodation represent one of the greatest health inequalities in the country already, and COVID has only made this worse. The effects of the pandemic will be felt long after vaccines and restrictions have returned us to some form of normal.”


Prof Rob Aldridge

Rob is a Professor of Public Health Data Science and Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Career Development Fellow at the Institute of Health Informatics. His research aims to equitably improve the health of the public through the application of data science and public health research. The research group he leads in Public Health Data Science works towards this aim by using complex health data and digital interventions to equitably improve
health. A focus of Rob's work relates to making invisible populations visible by using data to understand the health needs of people experiencing homelessness, substance use, imprisonment or migration.



Prof Raghu Raghavan


Professor Raghavan holds a chair in mental health at De Montfort University, Leicester. His background is in health psychology and nursing, and his work focusses on mental health and disability, cultural diversity, participatory research and co-production. He is the Director of Mary Seacole Research Centre – an interdisciplinary research institute focussing on mental health, migration, ethnicity and culture. He is also co-director of Leicester Centre for Mental Health Research (LCMHR) a collaborative research centre with De Montfort University, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust and the University of Leicester. He leads UKRI funded national and international research projects on mental health, resilience and wellbeing in the UK and in India with diverse cultural and migrant communities using innovative interdisciplinary approaches (creative arts-based methodology) for maximising participation and influencing impact on policy and practice. He has published widely with over 100 publications on the theme of mental health, disability, and health inequalities of diverse cultural communities.


Dr Marcella Ucci

Dr Ucci is Associate Professor in Environmental and Healthy Buildings at the UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, UCL. 

Her research focuses on the interactions and tensions between sustainable building design/operation and the needs of occupants for comfort, health and wellbeing. She is one of the leads for the Housing Theme within the ActEarly project, which focuses on early life changes to improve the health and opportunities for children living in two contrasting areas with high levels of child poverty, Bradford  and Tower Hamlets. She is also Co-Investigator on the project Families in Tower Hamlets: impacts of COVID-19


"The mix of the coronavirus pandemic with the pre-existing housing shortage in England has created ‘the perfect storm’ which has the potential to exacerbate and embed inequalities for an entire generation of early years children living in temporary accommodation."

Research Team

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Dr Kris Fearon


Dr Kriss Fearon is a research fellow on the CHAMPIONS project, conducting qualitative research with families and professionals on the experience of living in temporary accommodation, as well as project management. She has a PhD in Sociology from the Centre for Reproduction Research at DMU and before that was a user experience researcher. Her interests particularly lie in creative and visual research methods and also in practical ways of ensuring that disabled people, and other groups who are underrepresented in research, are able to take part.


“COVID has had an effect on so much of our society, but this is a group that is on the margins at the best of times so we need to communicate with them now more than ever.”

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Dr Kaushik Sarkar

Technical Advisor, Malaria No More


Dr Kaushik Sarkar is a global health professional with leadership experience in public health research, policy, and partnerships. In the CHAMPIONS project Kaushik is leading the evidence synthesis through a global scoping review. He has a proven track record of designing and scaling innovative real-world research and business models for access improvement collaboratively with governments, donors, and corporate and third sector partners. He has been instrumental in establishing India’s first state-level Strategic Support Unit and Malaria Action Coalition for malaria elimination and driving policy research on vaccines, antimicrobial resistance, and One Health. In 2019, Kaushik co-founded the India-subsidiary of Aceso Global Health Consultants Limited to bring global expertise in public health research to India. Kaushik holds a professional doctorate (MD) in Community Medicine, with an Executive MBA in Business Analysis. 


“Fostering a resilient child-centric policy that is equitable, evidence-driven, and contextualised is a daunting, yet irrefutable, pandemic-driven urgency. CHAMPIONS’ innovative peer-led and exploratory research brings a unique interface of scientific evidence and public and professional opinion to have recourse to the most compelling public health practices, enabling the basic rights of access to health for potentially excluded children.”


Dr Michelle Heys

Michelle is passionate about improving global equity in child and adolescent health outcomes, about giving a voice to our most vulnerable and marginalised populations and to mobilising communities and innovation to improve the health of children and young people. 

She is a Child Population Health Scientist combining clinical expertise in newborn and child health with expertise in public health practice and research, and in health services research and quality improvement. She has over 24 years of experience in clinical newborn and child health in the UK, Australia and Hong Kong; and during the last 17 years has combined clinical care with a growing portfolio of global child and adolescent population health research. 

She is an Associate Professor in Community and Population Child Health, Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, University College London and Consultant Paediatrican and lead for research and population health, East London NHS Foundation Trust, London. 

“Right now, 1 in 12 children in Newham, East London, are living in temporary accommodation; compared to 1 in 10 with asthma and 0.6 per 1000 with epilepsy and yet the level of knowledge, care and services that we provide to children in temporary accommodation is far less than that we provide to those with asthma and epilepsy. This has to change.”



Dr Nadia Svirydzenka


Dr Nadia Svirydzenka is a social and cultural psychologist at De Montfort University, Leicester. Her research interests lie in understanding mental health of vulnerable populations though culturally framed identities, attitudes, stigma, and behaviours. As culture reflects sociocultural and economic factors underpinning power dynamics in any given society, in her research she uses critical research paradigms employing mixed methods and inclusive participatory methodologies to explore how resilience can be developed in response to social challenges like migration, homelessness, conflict, and gender violence; what factors mitigate the adverse mental health consequences; and how they can be mobilised from within communities for effective interventions. She believes in challenging traditional separation of meaningful identities like gender, ethnicity, and migrant in favour of an identity intersectionality approach to understanding socio-cultural complexities.

“The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. One word of truth outweighs the world."

-Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


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Dr Margarita Garfias Royo


Margarita is a passionate and creative researcher who focuses on development projects. She has a high level of cross-cultural understanding achieved through international experiences. She has conducted both quantitative and qualitative research in five different countries in Latin America, Africa, South Asia and Europe. Margarita is an early career researcher and a Research Fellow in the project. Her PhD in Gender & Built Environment at University College London aimed to understand the links between urban infrastructure and Violence Against Women in public. She did an MSc in Engineering for International Development and volunteered with Engineers Without Borders UK to conduct her Master’s research in an informal settlement, Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, to assess infrastructural needs of some of the most vulnerable residents of the city. She has prior experience conducting urban research for public policy advocacy in Mexico.


“In a modern, moral and wealthy society, no person […] should be too poor to live. So what that means is health care as a human right. […]No person should be homeless if we can have public structures and public policies to allow for people to have homes and food and lead a dignified life.” - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”

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Safya Benniche


Safya is a Global Mental Health MSc graduate with an interest in social determinants of health and health inequalities. She has conducted research for children’s rights NGO’s, and worked on the Paediatrics 2040 project at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH). She has experience in writing literature reviews and in collecting and analysing qualitative data. Safya will be assisting with the recruitment of participants, project management, and supporting the research team with analysis.  


“The motto for the 2030 SDGs is to leave no one behind. This is now more important than ever. COVID has highlighted and increased existing disparities, further marginalising groups of people who were already isolated. The CHAMPIONS project will be collaborating with different sectors to address these disparities, and work to lessen them.”.”

Co- Investigators

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CReative Advisor

Dr Kartik Sharma

Founder, PAHUS (Public Arts Health & Us)

Dr Kartik Sharma, Founder of PAHUS (Public Arts Health & Us) has majored in Filmmaking and Health humanities from University College London (UCL). As a filmmaker and public engagement professional, his mission is committed to bridging knowledge divides through a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary approach. His present films and engagement projects raise awareness on health and social issues in society with the use of films and the arts. Kartik as a filmmaker and health humanities researcher has worked internationally, in:

India with Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).Thailand with HITAP, Ministry of Public Health and the Mechai Viravaidhya Foundation.United Kingdom with National Health Services (NHS) and University College London (UCL).

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Project Leads

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