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Reflections on the AVATAR2 Launch - Part 1

On Monday 11th January, the AVATAR2 trial went live, with a virtual launch party attended by over 500 people. In this collection of blogs, team members and launch attendees share their reflections on how it went.

The AVATAR2 UK Launch – a Peer Researcher’s perspective.

Suzy Syrett

The 11th January 2021 saw the UK wide launch of AVATAR2 which is a multi-site trial taking place at Kings College London, University College London, The University of Manchester, and the University of Glasgow. AVATAR2 is testing an intervention for people who hear voices that incorporates a 3D avatar of their voice on a computer screen. We’re looking to see if interacting with that avatar – an avatar created to both visually and audibly match the voice a participant hears – reduces the frequency and/or the intensity of what can often be a limiting and negative relationship with that voice.

As a Peer Researcher on the Glasgow site team for the AVATAR2 trial, it is my job to share and utilise my own Lived Experience in ways that both benefit the running of the trial and assist in communicating the ins and outs of the intervention the trial is testing. To be clear, this is something I’ve spent many years practicing and honing to ensure that I’m never putting myself at any risk in how I share my experiences but also that I can do so in a way that is helpful to whatever task is at hand.

My role in the AVATAR2 launch was threefold:

1. To role play as a participant to demonstrate how the intervention works

2. To share to camera my own experiences of what it is like to live with a constant, negative critical voice, and

3. To answer any questions related to either of the former roles and any questions there might be around how integral Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) is to AVATAR2.

That my involvement was spread so broadly across the launch itself is a terrific example of just how valued and important PPI is to every team member working on AVATAR2. I look forward to writing more blogs about PPI and AVATAR2 in the coming months.

Moving forward, I’m excited to be part of a team that is recruiting PPI members for AVATAR2 in the Glasgow and Lanarkshire areas (we also have PPI groups in each of our other sites) and we have so much to offer in terms of a huge variety of types of involvement and paid roles too. If you’re a person with Lived Experience of hearing voices and would like to hear more about how you might get involved, please head over to the PPI section of this website or copy and paste the following link into your browser:

Scottish reflections; Photo by Bridey Rudd

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