The Times 'Good University Guide 2009' ranks Queen's University's social work education no.2 out of 50 universities in the UK. Professor Mike Tomlinson, Head of the School of Sociology, Social Policy & Social Work, says: "this ranking reflects the School’s high quality research and teaching, and is a tribute to the dedication of our social work staff who are responsible for one of the largest training programmes in the UK. Only 3 of 130 graduates were without jobs within six months of graduating in 2007."
Margaret Ritchie MLA, Minister for Social Development, attended a dinner in the Great Hall at Queen's last night, held as part of the North/South Social Welfare Summer School. Professor of Sociology, Madeleine Leonard, is Academic Director of the Summer School which brings together civil servants from the Department of Social and Family Affairs and
Professor Laurie Taylor, renowned for his contributions to sociology and broadcasting received an honorary doctorate at Queen's today. Professor Mike Tomlinson, Head of the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, gave the citation and said that "Throughout his working life, Laurie Taylor has engaged with controversy. Regular listeners of Radio 4s Thinking Allowed will be familiar with the animated discussions of an enormous range of subjects from orange marching bands to youth suicides, or the shifting definitions of torture – a subject he analysed at length in the New Humanist magazine. But, on the Thinking Allowed show, you are just as likely to hear about the love of gardening, cookbooks and the sociological significance of wearing ribbons".The full citation is available here.
Queen’s University researchers, working on behalf of the Lifestart Foundation, are looking for parents with babies under one year of age to take part in one the largest ever studies of families and parenting ever undertaken in Ireland.
The aim of the Lifestart Study is to evaluate the Lifestart - Home Based Parenting Programme. Those who participate in the research will be able to receive free feedback on their child’s development.
Dr Helga Sneddon from the Institute of Child Care Research at Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social work said:
“The Lifestart Study aims to evaluate how well the Lifestart – Home Based Parenting Programme works for parents and children. Rather than making assumptions about what we think parents need, we are giving them the opportunity to share directly with us their experiences and the type of support they find useful in their role as parents.”
“The Lifestart programme aims to support families, with children aged from birth to five through the ups and downs of parenting by helping them, on a month by month basis, learn and understand more about their child’s development. Of the 500 families we are seeking to take part in this research, 250 of them will be entered into the Lifestart programme. This will allow us to find out more about their experiences of parenting compared to those who are not involved in the Lifestart programme.
“Those families who volunteer to take part in The Lifestart Study will be visited by us in their homes during their child’s first year, again when the child is two and a half, and finally when the child is five years old. Throughout this time, we will talk with mums and dads about their parenting experiences and be able to provide some useful free feedback to them on their child’s development.
“Taking part in the study will help us improve early years parenting support and identify gaps in the services available to parents throughout Ireland. Parents should look out for our Lifestart leaflets coming through their doors over the next few months that give more details about taking part in the study. Parents can also call our free-phone numbers: in N. Ireland call 0800 0855031, in the Republic of Ireland call 1800 818 688, or they can email us on email@example.com”
The researchers are seeking parents from 17 areas across Ireland to participate in the study: Lifford/Letterkenny (Donegal), Newtowncunningham (Donegal), Ballymun (Dublin), Carlow/Kilkenny, Cherry Orchard (Dublin), Drogheda (Louth), Edenderry (Offaly/Kildare), Leitrim, Mulhuddart (Dublin), Sligo, Ballymagroarty/Hazelbank/Coshquin (Derry), Enniskillen, Limavady, Mid-Ards (Down), Strabane, Shantallow (Derry).
The Lifestart Study is funded by Lifestart with support from Atlantic Philanthropies. Helga Sneddon is based at the Institute of Child Care Research and Sarah Allen is based at the School of Education at Queens.
Notes to Editors
1. Dr Helga Sneddon and Dr Sarah Allen, Principal Investigators in The Lifestart Study are available for interview.
2. For more information on Lifestart please visit www.lifestartfoundation.org
3. For more information on the Institute of Child Care Research at Queen’s please visit www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/InstituteofChildCareResearch/
4. For more information on the School of Education at Queen’s please visit http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofEducation/
Belfast's Deputy Lord Mayor, Bernie Kelly, visited the School on 22nd April to give a talk on Gender and Politics to first year students taking the module on Gender & Work in 21st Century Ireland. Bernie Kelly is one of the School’s graduates, gaining a Bachelor of Social Science Degree in Social Studies in July 1980 before moving on to Edinburgh where she studied for a Masters in Social Work. Currently Senior Manager of Belfast Health & Social Care Trust where she manages Physical and Sensory Disability Services, Bernie spoke of the challenges of combining this important post with her political career which took off when she was elected as an SDLP councillor in 2005 and developed a higher profile when she became Deputy Lord Mayor in June 2007. Students from Sociology, Social Policy, and Social Work also attended and listened with interest as Bernie outlined the background to her career and, drawing on her own experience, drew attention to the barriers and the advantages facing women entering the political arena. Her key message was that, despite the hurdles, female students interested in politics shouldn’t wait for others to take up the mantle, but ‘go for it’ themselves.
The School is holding a Postgraduate Fair on Wednesday 12th March at 5pm in G026, 6 College Park. Come along to the fair to find out:
Meet staff, discuss your ideas and have a glass of wine.
Crossing the Border: New Relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was launched by An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD in Dublin on 21st February 2008. The book is jointly edited by Professors Liam O'Dowd (Sociology at Queen's) and John Coakley of University College Dublin and also includes a jointly authored contribution by Ivo Damkat, PhD student in the School.
The book is the outcome of a research project entitled: Mapping Frontiers, Plotting Pathways: Routes to Co-operation on a Divided Island, which was funded by the Peace 2 programme through the Higher Education Authority. Led by Professor Liam O'Dowd, School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, at Queen's and Professor John Coakley of the School of Politics, University College Dublin, the work involved up to 40 academics drawn from a variety of disciplines; economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, history and psychology and involved partnerships with the Economic and Social Research Institute, the Centre for Cross Border Studies and Democratic Dialogue.
The two year research project is the first comprehensive overview of the historic transformation in relationships between north and south, the opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration and the political and institutional obstacles which limit it. Crossing the Border examines three broad areas, politics, the economy and civil society. It assesses the performance of the cross-border bodies established under the GFA and various case studies in cooperation in education, health, spatial planning and the voluntary sector. The contributors underline the reliance of cross-border co-operation on external funding to date, the challenge of sustainability, and the problem of institutional inertia on both sides of the border. It concludes by considering the prospects for the development of future cross-border relationships, underlying their central, if understated, role in the peace process and their capacity to develop mutually beneficial outcomes for all communities on the island.
In addition to the book, the project continues to generate a programme of publications including a special issue of the journal Political Geography (2007), entitled 'Partition and the Re-configuration of the Irish Border', edited by Professors Coakley and O'Dowd, as well as twenty eight working papers arising from the project available at www.qub.ac.uk/cibr
At Queen's the project is part of the work of the inter-disciplinary Centre for International Borders Research, directed by Professor O'Dowd who is also currently engaged in a EU Sixth Framework research project, studying co-operation across the external border of the EU. At UCD it is part of the research programme of the Institute of British-Irish Studies.
In the year that young people across Northern Ireland witnessed the restoration of the Assembly and Executive, their optimism about the future of community relations here increased significantly, according to the findings of a major survey published by Queen's University.
The results of the 2007 Young Life and Times Survey offer a fascinating insight into what 16 year olds across Northern Ireland really think about social issues ranging from politics and children's rights to drinking alcohol and losing weight. The survey is carried out annually by ARK, a joint initiative between Queen's University and the University of Ulster.
Young Life and Times Director, Dr Dirk Schubotz from the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen's said:
"Too often, the opinions of young people are ignored, particularly in relation to issues that directly affect them. The Young Life and Times Survey invites 16 year olds to tell us about their views on a range of social issues, and the 2007 survey covers more subject areas than any of our previous studies.
"In the year when the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive were re-established, it is particularly noticeable that young people's optimism about community relations in Northern Ireland has substantially increased.
"The proportion of 16 year olds saying that relations between Catholics and Protestants are better now than they were five years ago has risen from 48% in 2006 to 61% in 2007. Almost half of respondents (48%) believe that community relations will continue to improve over the next five years, compared with 41% in 2006. Over eight in ten (81%), however, felt that religion will always make a difference to how people in Northern Ireland feel about each other.
"The 627 young people who responded to the survey were also asked about their experiences of activities that can damage their health. Three quarters of them (75%) had drunk alcohol, almost half (45%) had smoked tobacco and 17% had taken illegal drugs.
"The results also revealed that many girls feel under pressure from the media to lose weight. Worryingly, over one third of girls who completed the survey (35%) said they had felt under pressure to lose weight, even though they didn't want to. Whereas respondents identified friends and peers as the main source of pressure to drink, smoke, take drugs or have sex, the media was cited as the main source of pressure to lose weight.
"The results of the Young Life and Times Survey have given us an interesting insight into the issues faced by Northern Ireland's first post-conflict generation. It is interesting that just over one third of the 16 year olds who responded felt that the government protects the rights of young people adequately (30%) or very well (7%), and four in ten (39%) felt that they could change the way things are run if they got involved in politics.
"It is important that the views of young people are taken into consideration by the people who make the decisions that ultimately affect their lives."
The Young Life and Times survey team will release more detailed information on the findings relating to cross-community contact, family life and responsibilities of 16 year olds and experiences of smoking, drinking, drug use and sexual intercourse later in the year.
For more information on Young Life and Times please visit www.ark.ac.uk/ylt
Notes to Editors:
1. The results of the 2007 Young Life and Times survey will be presented by Dr Dirk Schubotz at 1pm-2.30pm on Wednesday 20 February 2008 at The Institute of Governance at Queen's University, 57-63 University Road, Belfast. Timings as follows:
2. An embargoed leaflet summarising the findings of the survey is attached to the email containing this news release. Further information and tables of results will be available on the Young Life and Times website at www.ark.ac.uk/ylt immediately after this seminar.
3. Dr Schubotz will be available for interviews at the following times:
4. ARK is a joint resource between Queen's University and the University of Ulster. It was established in 2000 and its goal is to make social science information on Northern Ireland available to the widest possible audience.
5. ARK receives core-funding from the ESRC. The 2007 YLT survey was part-funded by Save the Children and the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Regions of Ireland (Peace II).
Notes to Editors Ends
A new report published by Save the Children shows that Northern Ireland has higher levels of persistent child poverty in comparison to Great Britain. Here, one in five children is living in persistent poverty – that’s double the level in the rest of the UK.
The research – Persistent Child Poverty in Northern Ireland - which was carried out by Save the Children in partnership with ARK, a joint project between Queen’s University, Belfast and the University of Ulster, found that the study of poverty over time is important to understanding how many children are affected in Northern Ireland.
For over a quarter of children, poverty is a short-term issue - but for 21% of children in Northern Ireland, poverty is a long-term experience.
Marina Monteith, Child Poverty Researcher at Save the Children said: "Previous research has shown that Northern Ireland has similar child poverty rates to other regions in the UK in any one year.
"This new research highlights the facts that over a four-year period, a higher proportion of children in Northern Ireland experience poverty than in Great Britain and a greater percentage are likely to live in poverty for a longer period of time."
Traditionally, researchers have given us a more ‘static’ snapshot of poverty by looking at it at a particular place and time. However, the introduction of the Northern Ireland Household Panel (NIHPS) survey in 2001 has allowed analysts to study the duration of child poverty.
Katrina Lloyd, Research Director at ARK at Queen’s University, said: "In the NI Household Panel Survey, the same people are followed up each year. This enables researchers to study how their circumstances change over the four year period for which data is available (2001-2004).
"Using this information, we are able to study whether child poverty is short-term or persistent - that is, being poor for at least three of the four years.
"We found that here, 21% of children were living in persistent poverty, compared to 9% in Great Britain.
"Those most affected by persistent poverty were children living in families dependent mainly on benefits as their main source of income, children living with a lone parent and children living in families with a disabled or elderly adult or a disabled child.
"Furthermore, the analysis showed that parents of children living in poverty had poorer mental health and that mental health and well-being was worst for mothers of children living in persistent poverty."
Marina Monteith added: "The impact of living in persistent poverty is likely to be much more
serious than when experiencing poverty on a more temporary basis.
"Persistent poverty impacts adversely on the experience of childhood and life chances are
reduced – in terms of educational opportunities as well as health and well-being. In addition,
children living in persistent poverty are living in households where parents are clearly experiencing
high levels of stress and struggling to cope".
The research revealed today highlights the importance of understanding - not only the level of child poverty but also its depth and duration.
Without specifically tackling the persistent element of poverty and tailoring solutions to tackle it, Save the Children and ARK say that it is unlikely that the government’s targets for the eradication of child poverty will be met.
For more information please contact Felicity Templeton at Save the Children on 07713 242412 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee today heard evidence about Northern Ireland's suicide problem. Mike Tomlinson of the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen's has carried out a review of the research on suicide particularly with reference to the affects of 'the Troubles' on mental well-being. He urged the Committee to look into the recent increase in, and heavy use of anti-depressants, and to take note of the factors that contribute to the growth in social isolation for some groups of people. His full statement to the Committee can be read
Mary Daly, Professor of Sociology, was appointed chair of the High Level Task Force on Social Cohesion in Europe in 2006. After one and a half year’s of investigations and hearings across the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, the Task Force presented its report to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe – the right honourable Terry Davis – in December 2007.
The Task Force, a group of experts from 8 different countries, was charged with developing a future plan for the social policy activities of the Council of Europe. This meant investigating the current challenges facing both the Council of Europe as an organisation and also the social policies of member states. Factors like globalisation, changing demography, pressures around funding of social policies as well as inequalities within and across European countries were among the main problems considered.
Along with the traditional social policy areas – like social protection, health and education – the Task Force concluded that more intangible matters, such as the extent to which people feel secure and safe and young people believe they have a real future, are vitally important. The plan that the Task Force came up with centred around four pillars: reinvesting in social rights, developing a wider sense and ethic of responsibility, strengthening democratic foundations and mechanisms of social and civic dialogue, and building confidence in the future.
The blueprint is designed so that it can be implemented at different levels – across Europe, at national level and at regional or local level. A transversal approach to social policy was recommended. This means two things. First, all actors need to be more involved and engaged – citizens, social partners, civil society, governments, transnational organisations. Secondly, given that social cohesion crosses policy spheres, people and units with different specialisms have to work together. Common ‘policy platforms’ was one of the relevant recommendations.
Six doctoral studentships are on offer as part of the ESRC Large Grant: Conflict in cities and the contested state: Everyday life and the possibilities for transformation in Belfast, Jerusalem and Other Divided Cities. Two of these studentships, one funded by the ESRC, and one by Queen’s University, are on offer in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, beginning in September 2008. Overseas, EU and UK students, with or without a Masters degree, are all eligible to apply.
Further details can be downloaded here .
An Inaugural Lecture by Professor Denis O'Hearn entitled "Why is the University such a bad place for Learning" is to be held on Thursday 22 November at 5.00 pm in the Peter Frogatt Centre, Room 212. A reception will be held in the Peter Frogatt Centre Foyer following the lecture.
The School has secured the following three CASE Studentships:
Exploring the Use of Digital Therapeutic Gaming with Children in Public Care
Supervisor: Dr Emma Larkin
Awarded to: Aine McGinnity
Examining Northern Irish Adoptive Parents' Perceptions and Feeling Regarding Post-Adoption
Supervisors: Dr Dominic McSherry and Mr Greg Kelly
Awarded to: Amanda MacDonald
Empowerment, Partnership and Participation in Services for Disabled Children and their Families
Supervisors: Professor Geraldine Macdonald and Dr Berni Kelly
Awarded to: Patricia McNeilly
The School has three ESRC collaborative PhD studentships that are available immediately:
For further information on each of these projects, please contact the staff member directing the project and/or download the file here .