RSPCA Lay Members' Forum and workshops

AWERB Lay Members' Forum

Between 1999 and 2019, the RSPCA organised an annual meeting for lay and other members of Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Bodies (AWERBs). In 2020, we held four online regional workshops for lay members instead. You can read about many of the previous events below.


This year's meeting will include four sessions on: policy and topical issues; animal welfare and the 3Rs; training in ethics and the Culture of Care; and the role of the lay member. RSPCA Lay Members Forum 2021 agenda.


We held four regional workshops instead of a Lay Members' Forum in 2020.


The programme for this year's 20th anniversary meeting included a talk and a discussion session on assessing the effectiveness of the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB), and feedback on key points from this years' RSPCA/LASA/LAVA/IAT AWERB-UK meeting. Looking forward to the next 20 years, there were also presentations on some topical issues in animal research: animal sentience and what this means for animal welfare, genome editing and obesity research.

Abstract booklet (2019) (PDF 1.13MB)


Topics at our Forum in London included: key recommendations from the Animals in Science Committee report on the harm/benefit analysis; a scientist's experience of appearing in front of the AWERB; the scientific basis for assessing the mental states of animals; and the experience of a lay member at a large biomedical research institution. Abstract booklet (2018) (PDF 1.17MB)

In 2018, we also held a Forum in Scotland, where speakers addressed topics including: the use of the '3Cs' to assess the effectiveness of the AWERB; developing the culture of care; and a discussion of the ethical challenges and issues raised by working with animals in the wild. Abstract booklet - Scotland (2018) (PDF 1.13MB)

Short summary of the 2018 meeting (PDF 81.8KB)


The programme included a discussion of how lay members' feedback and input can help improve the non-technical summary; ways to recognise and help alleviate boredom in research animals; the use of enrichment in zebrafish housing; recognising and reducing distress in research animals; and how animals are used in trauma research. Abstract booklet (2017) (PDF 1.13MB)


Topics discussed at this meeting included: a Home Office perspective on how best to address projects that have major ethical implications or societal concerns; developing an AWERB in a global Contract Research Organisation; the culture of care; a discussion of how the 3Rs can be implemented in pain research; and a presentation of the 'Ratlife' video, which documented the behaviour of a group of laboratory rats when released into a semi-wild enclosure. Abstract booklet (2016) (PDF 1.04MB)


Speakers addressed topics including: a Home Office view on the first two years of the AWERB; training, supervision and competence; working with wild animals; the potential for organ-on-a-chip technology as a replacement; and reviewing projects involving disease therapies. Abstract booklet (2015) (PDF 1.12MB)


Topics included: assessing harms and benefits; fish welfare; retrospective review; update from the European Commission. Abstract booklet (2014) (PDF 1.64MB)


The programme included a range of scientific, welfare and ethical topics and also covered issues relating to the implementation of the revised UK law. Abstract booklet (2013) (PDF 891KB)


Topics included: transposition of Directive 2010/63/EU with emphasis on issues of particular relevance to the ethical review process; how lay members would like to see the local ethical review process and the new national Animals in Science Committee develop in the future. Abstract booklet (2012) (PDF 861KB)


The theme of 'Making difficult decisions'. Topics included: evaluating harms and benefits of new technologies; issues relating to humane endpoints and cumulative suffering; harms and benefits in behavioural pharmacology; and the challenge of ethical review in a global context. Abstract booklet (2011) (PDF 592KB)

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