The Soapbox Collaborative is a NGO committed to ensuring mothers and babies avoid preventable infections at the time of delivery. Working with overseas and UK partners we aim to improve hygiene practices with low cost simple interventions through both research and action.
Professor Wendy Graham has been the driving force behind The Soapbox Collaborative from the outset and remains the Chief Scientific Adviser. She recently became Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Epidemiology at the University of Aberdeen after 20 years of research, and also holds an Honorary Professorship at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She trained at Sheffield and then Oxford University, & has specialist interests in the reduction and the measurement of maternal mortality. She joined the University of Aberdeen in 1995, and was the Principal Investigator for the original Immpact project until 2013.
Professor Graham’s interests include quality improvement of maternity services, prevention of healthcare-associated infections, and maternal death surveillance. She remains research active in her Emeritus role, and is the P.I. to a new MRC-funded collaborative project on improving hand-hygiene, based in Zanzibar in collaboration with Soapbox. Professor Graham continues to serve as an adviser for many international organisations and initiatives, including the World Health Organization and the Wellcome Trust, and collaborates with research groups, NGOs and health facilities primarily in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Gambia and Tanzania. She is also the lead for an initiative at the University of Aberdeen to strengthen learning on global health among medical students, including their involvement in the work of Soapbox.
With the financial support of a local benefactor the charity was Registered with OSCR in 2012. We are grateful to our benefactor, who is a retired nurse and midwife and a trustee of The Soapbox Collaborative. She was born in upper Deeside to a family with a long tradition of farming. The hard work, determination and commitment required of such farming families prepared her well for her chosen career in nursing and midwifery – a career spanning over 40 years.
She began her nurse training at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) in 1940. Qualifying in 1943, she then moved on to complete one year of midwifery training at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital. As a staff midwife and had the opportunity to work with the esteemed Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Sir Dugald Baird, and remembers him as a genuine, conscientious and compassionate man. In 1947, she moved back to general nursing and became a ward sister on the professorial surgical unit in ARI, where she learnt at first hand the crucial importance of asepsis and good hygiene practises. She continued her career by training as a Public Health Nurse, qualifying in 1960. She served the community of Aberdeen City in this capacity for over ten years, retiring in 1981.
We are grateful that her experience as a midwife in Scotland has helped to create The Soapbox Collaborative and to extend the benefits of clean safe birth to women in the poorest parts of the world.