I am very pleased to bring you the Summer 2022 issue of the School of SSESW newsletter.
This will be my final introduction as my 5-year term of office as Head of School is ending. Over this period, it has been my privilege to lead such a dynamic, socially engaged interdisciplinary School, which through its research and teaching and engagement with professionals and policy makers in national and international settings, continues to have an enormous social impact at home and abroad.
Our work connects the Northern Ireland community with world leading experts and enables us to share with a global audience the recognised excellence in Northern Ireland schools and agencies. In this issue, alongside the many other notable activities and achievements highlighted, I am delighted to be able to feature the School’s success in REF2021; a peer assessment of academic research quality that seeks to ensure the continuation of world-class, socially responsive research in UK Universities. A challenge, which is at the core of all our activities.
As I step down from the role as Head of School it is with an enormous sense of pride in what the School has accomplished and with a strong degree of confidence in its continuing ability to make a social difference!
Professor Carl Bagley PhD FRSA
Head of School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work
School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (SSESW) research is impacting on societies, economies, health and cultures, from local communities to global populations, as evidenced by the results of the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF). REF is the UK's system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.
We are delighted that both Units of Assessment (UoAs) in the School feature in the top 20 of the REF exercise as featured in the Times Higher Education REF2021 subject rankings.
Over 83% of research submitted to REF2021 across two UoAs in the School was judged to be World Leading or Internationally Excellent. We are delighted that our work in Education, Criminology, Social Policy, Sociology and Social Work has been recognised in this important exercise. It is further endorsement of the depth and breadth in quality of our research.
We are proud of the standard and impact of research by every member of staff within the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work. These results are part of a whole School effort, including our dedicated researchers, our non-research active academic colleagues, professional services and valued external partners. Recognition through REF is only possible through the support of this entire ecosystem. You can read more in our REF success news article.
Social Work and Co-production, as part of the Northern Ireland Department of Health Reflections series, is an important piece of work that was developed over two years. School of SSESW academic Joe Duffy (Social Work) was one of the co-authors on this publication which supports social workers and social work students in gaining a better understanding of how to improve social work services through co-production with service users.
The publication was co-produced, throughout the pandemic, by a group of people from lived experience, social work and academic backgrounds and was launched in November 2021.
It covers principles and essentials of co-production and contains case study examples from across Northern Ireland, including several developed by School of SSESW staff. One SSESW example highlights the fact that, over the past 15 years, people with lived experience of bereavement, injury and trauma, all of whom are members of WAVE Trauma Centre in Belfast, have been co-producing teaching and tutorials alongside our Social Work academics for students on our Social Work degree course at Queen’s University. This occurs at an early stage of the degree programme, for students in their first year, so that, importantly, they are being introduced to lived, experiential knowledge at the outset of their social work education.
To further embed the important messages of this work, Joe Duffy and co-authors will present a lunchtime seminar on 20 June for the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, entitled Shining a Light on Social Work and Co-Production - A Call to Action.
The publication is available on the Department of Health website at Social Work and Co-production.
Earlier this year, Nichola Booth from our Centre for Behaviour Analysis, in collaboration with NewRed TV and Ulster University, completed a research project entitled ‘Virtual Reality Classroom’ with pupils from St Gerard’s School and Support Services, Belfast. The project design incorporated behavioural principles and teaching strategies into a virtual environment to aid in the teaching of fractions to six autistic teenage boys.
The aim of the project was to assess whether there was a difference in the learning of fractions using traditional teaching methods compared with technology-based methods. The results of the exercise were promising, with all six pupils accelerating their learning with faster and more correct responses recorded. After a follow-up session, which consisted of testing pupils’ learning using traditional paper-based fractions worksheets, all of them had transferred their learning from the virtual world and retained their new learning, as evidenced by scores of greater than 90% on the worksheets. Feedback from the pupils at St Gerard’s suggested that this ‘gamification’ was a fun way to learn, and the individual feedback and reinforcement (in the form of 'flying tokens' and auditory praise) motivated them to keep going. These ‘flying tokens’ were embedded within the Virtual Reality classroom and were obtained by responding correctly and quickly following the instruction from the virtual teacher. These tokens could then be exchanged for a real-life reinforcer (determined by the class teacher) such as time in the sensory room, additional screen time or extra break time.
More Virtual Reality (VR) classrooms are being developed with the same team (Queen’s, NewRed TV and Ulster University) to target further academic skills such as other maths concepts and literacy skills, which will be trialled in the new academic year both in St Gerard’s School and Support Services, Belfast, and other schools across Northern Ireland.
Dirk Schubotz is Professor in Social Policy and is currently Postgraduate Research Director.
As a native of Berlin I first came to Belfast in 1991 with a youth exchange programme as chairperson of a community youth project I set up with young people in Berlin. Two years later, I returned to study at Queen’s University for a year. In the mid and late 1990s, I spent some time back in Belfast, undertaking research on integrated schools for my Master’s and PhD, and eventually moved over to live and work in Belfast in 2000.
I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to retain my interest and passion for young people and my engagement in youth and community work as part of my academic career.
Together with colleagues in ARK – Northern Ireland’s Social Policy Hub - I established the annual Young Life and Times (YLT) survey of 16 year olds and have directed the survey since 2003. It has become one of the core social policy monitoring tools in Northern Ireland, a highly respected and well-used vehicle helping government departments and the voluntary sector to develop and monitor core policies on, for example, good relations and peacebuilding, shared education, children’s and young people’s rights, tackling paramilitarism, mental and sexual health, physical activity, volunteering and, most recently, tackling violence against women.
As a member of our Centre for Children’s Rights, I have long been involved in participatory research with young people and engaged research with youth and community organisations. I am active in the promotion of sexual health services for young people in Northern Ireland and chair Common Youth, Northern Ireland’s leading sexual health charity for young people. I am involved with the Government’s efforts to bring about changes in order to end violence against women and girls.
As Postgraduate Research Director, I look after our approximately 200 doctoral students. I teach Qualitative Research Methods at all levels in the School. At undergraduate level I supervise our third year Social Policy students as they complete a tangible policy research project in collaboration with a voluntary sector organisation. The students love that module as it provides them with employability skills they can draw on.
Social Work student Alexander Bennett was a member of an interdisciplinary team from Schools across Queen’s that was crowned winner of this year’s All-Ireland Interprofessional Healthcare Challenge for Students, an intervarsity competition where students from different disciplines had to work collaboratively to respond to a case study involving Mary, a woman with complex needs admitted to hospital from a nursing home.
Student teams from seven Irish universities submitted a video response of their plan. A panel of judges then decided which university demonstrated expert interdisciplinary collaboration and team working.
Audrey Roulston, convenor for our Social Work in Adult Services module, felt that the Queen’s presentation was underpinned by core professional values and demonstrated knowledge and respect for the roles and responsibilities of different professionals. Having a social worker on the team helped to focus on the psychosocial aspects of Mary's situation, highlighting the importance of working in a person-centred way, empowering and respecting Mary's wishes and rights regarding her care and discharge planning. The team’s presentation demonstrated the gold standard for how discharge planning should be coordinated for all patients, regardless of age or ability, and aligns with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council's Standards of Conduct and Practice (2019) and the Global Definition of Social Work (2014).
Alex commented: ‘It is important to learn more about other disciplines to prepare for multidisciplinary work. The NHS is in crisis and we, as a student team, had a great opportunity to collaborate and to learn from each other about all the health professions, enabling us to best empower and support those who use our services. We had plenty of support from the Schools and our meetings were just like case study work in tutorial. It was excellent meeting other students and I've left the challenge knowing a lot more about the medical perspective on social care.’
Queen’s winning performance can be viewed at Healthcare Challenge for Students.
Our Northern Ireland Centre for Information on Language Teaching (NICILT) supports language teaching and learning in Northern Ireland and is funded by the Department of Education. In 2021/22, NICILT launched a new Ambassadors project, linking final year undergraduate students with Year 10 pupils in non-selective schools. Sixteen Ambassadors visited schools to deliver presentations on the value of languages, followed by four mentoring sessions to encourage ‘on the fence’ pupils to opt-in to GCSE Languages. Pupils who took part in the project reported a positive increase in their attitudes to GCSE Languages. NICILT plans to build upon this success in 2022/23.
As part of our Languages for Employability programme, NICILT hosted two webinars which were accessed by pupils in 120 local schools. Each webinar explored how a language at GCSE helps pupils build their skillset and makes them more employable.
In February, schools submitted video entries for our Francofest and Hispanofest competitions. Teams completed a roleplay in their target language, either selling a product or marketing a town or region from the French or Spanish speaking world. After much deliberation, the judges named St Catherine’s College, Armagh overall winners of Francofest and St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon overall winners of Hispanofest.
In March, NICILT hosted the Grand Final of our German Spelling Bee competition. Schools delivered an internal competition to select their top speller to advance to the final. Angelica Karamichas (Friends’ School, Lisburn) was awarded first prize, with Robert Lyle (Campbell College) named runner-up. We also ran an Irish Spelling Bee, with the final taking place on 11 March. More than 20 schools entered a pupil for the final. Jacob Hassett (Christian Brothers’ Grammar School, Omagh) was the overall winner with Molly McCaffery (St Dominic’s Grammar School, Belfast) and Enya McAuley (Cross and Passion College, Ballycastle) named joint runners-up.
School of SSESW academic John Topping (Criminology) has worked on a variety of research, consultancy and advisory roles with all the major policing institutions in Northern Ireland: the Police Service of Northern Ireland; Northern Ireland Policing Board; the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland; and the Police Federation for Northern Ireland. He has also acted as an independent member of the Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership.
In the latest podcast from the Queen’s University Mitchell Institute, John discusses his research in police reform, policing in society and restorative justice. The podcast covers a range of issues related to policing in Northern Ireland and beyond, drawing on John’s experience as a policing academic. This includes the complexities of police reform, lessons for other jurisdictions, along with a reflection on that which has been achieved over the past 20 years in terms of policing in Northern Ireland.
As summarised by John: ’The lessons from policing here are complex, both in terms of what has been achieved, what has yet to be achieved, and what it means for other countries looking to reform their policing systems. Particularly set against current so-called ‘defund’ debates around policing, questioning the business of policing and police practice has never been so important - along with how that can be done in a manner which enhances community relations and human rights’.
The podcast is available at Mitchell Institute Conversations – Episode 8.
Queen’s University is represented by SSESW academics Karen Winter and Paul McCafferty in an innovative international partnership project arising from a UN Sustainable Development Goal on shared decision-making for all groups. The Participation and Collaboration for Protection (PANDA) project promotes the participation of young children (aged 12 and under) in child welfare decision-making in a transnational context by collating and disseminating learning materials for social workers, managers, policy officers and trainers in order to strengthen their collaboration with young children involved in child welfare/child protection services.
Guided by an Advisory Board bringing in the voice of the child, all project outputs are being co-designed in cooperation with stakeholders and offer an integrated approach to enhancing knowledge, skills, values, and practice in collaborating with young children. Project outputs will be hosted in an online platform comprising a media library for all stakeholders, a framework for management and policy officers and a toolkit for trainers.
Eight partners from Belgium, Spain, Norway and the UK (through Queen’s University) met in Norway in March for the second of four project meetings to continue their invaluable work.
Karen Winter (Social Work) commented: ‘With the launch of the Framework for Integrated Therapeutic Care, and the recognition that children’s participation is one of the vital organisational building blocks for establishing better integrated therapeutic care for children and young people and their caregivers, the work we are doing at Queen’s is of even greater importance.’
Paul McCafferty (Social Work) added: ‘Working with our agency partner - Voice of Young People in Care – we are delighted to continue the work we began in Ghent. As the Department of Health in Northern Ireland aspires to even greater levels of participation and inclusion, we at Queen’s are thrilled to be creating the tools and frameworks that will help make this aspiration a reality.’
This year’s British Association of Applied Linguistics conference (BAAL) will be held at Queen’s University on 1-3 September, hosted by a team of applied linguists from the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work and the School of Arts, English and Languages. The conference theme Innovation and Social Justice in Applied Linguistics reflects an increasing interest in linguistics research that responds to real-world concerns.
In the face of a global health crisis and rising socio-racial awareness, the theme invites discussions around innovative and socially just practices in a field that is experiencing the multilingual, spatial and social justice turn all at once. It aims to stimulate conversations across disciplines and sub-disciplines of applied linguistics, about the field’s responses to global turbulence and shifts and current issues in language research.
Plenary speakers at BAAL 2022 will include Li Wei (University College London), Khawla Badwan (Manchester Metropolitan University), Vera Regan (University College Dublin) and Ahmar Mahboob (University of Sydney).
The organising committee for BAAL 2022 is chaired by Sultan Turkan, a School of SSESW academic who draws on a decade of teaching and research in Applied Linguistics across academic and corporate contexts in the USA, and includes colleagues from our Centre for Language Education Research: Ibrar Bhatt, Sin Wang Chong, Caroline Linse, Mel Engman and Aisling O’Boyle. For more information about the conference see BAAL 2022.
Queen's University Belfast, together with partners at the University of Limerick and the all island body Centre for Effective Services, will form a new and innovative cross-border research hub for youth crime, violence and criminal exploitation thanks to the ambitious North-South Research Programme.
The team has secured more than €3.3 million to build on their experience of supporting policy makers and practitioners around understanding and responding to these complex social issues.
The new cross-border 'Stable Lives, Safer Lives' research hub will connect high-quality research to policy makers in the Departments of Justice, Education and Health, as well as reaching practitioners and communities across the island of Ireland over the next four years.
School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (SSESW) academic Colm Walsh (Criminology), who leads the Northern Ireland team, commented on the work being supported by the funding award:
"This is a fantastic development and I'm very proud to be part of it. The investment recognises the significant achievements that have been made in regard to understanding the vulnerabilities that lead some young people to be affected by crime, violence and exploitation, as well as the importance of academic, policy, practice partnerships in preventing it. We plan to grow this expertise and develop a world leading research hub in this area."
The North-South Research Programme aims to support the deepening of links between higher education institutions, researchers and research communities. The programme is a collaborative scheme arising from the Irish Government's 'Shared Island' Initiative and is being delivered by the Higher Education Authority. The programme will have €40 million available over a five-year period from 2022.
Research recommendations from a study completed in 2015 by School of SSESW colleagues Prof Joe Duffy and Prof Gavin Davidson (both Social Work) with Dr Subhajit Basu (University of Leeds) and Prof Katherine Pearson (Penn State University, USA) are incorporated into the current proposals for Adult Social Care Reform in Northern Ireland, which were launched for consultation on 26 January 2022 by the Minister for Health, Robin Swann. The original research, conducted for the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland, was tasked with producing recommendations on legislation and policy relating to adult social care in Northern Ireland.
The research reviewed best practice internationally in these areas and their recommendations included legal reform to adult social care in Northern Ireland and the introduction of a Preventive/Support Visit to all older people from the age of 75 as a basis for further assessing and enabling their continuing independence. The research team highlighted that these structured visits, established in Denmark in 1998, improved mortality and functionality among older people as well as reducing both care and hospital admissions.
In light of these findings the team are hopeful their proposals for reform will become a part of the future adult social care landscape in Northern Ireland. More information is available on the Department of Health Consultation on The Reform of Adult Social Care webpage.
I came to Queen’s in 2011 to study for my PhD, and I have been a Research Fellow in the School since 2015. Prior to moving to Northern Ireland, I worked for five years in London as a social researcher in the public and voluntary sectors. My research at Queen’s focuses on education, social cohesion and (in)equalities in societies affected by division and conflict.
I work within our Centre for Shared Education and am currently involved in two strands of research. The first examines the implementation and impact of shared education initiatives, both in Northern Ireland and in other divided societies. Through this work I’ve been fortunate to work with schools and civil society organisations, locally and internationally, and I have published a number of research articles, reports and chapters. With Joanne Hughes, I have also shared the experience of shared education in Northern Ireland through podcasts for the International Network on Education in Emergencies and the British Educational Research Association.
The second strand of my research explores the experiences of education among parents and children from minority ethnic backgrounds in Northern Ireland. This project, on which I’m Principal Investigator, is funded by the Nuffield Foundation and examines participants’ perspectives on school admissions, the curriculum and home-school relationships. With Northern Ireland now a more diverse society, it is important that we understand how the education system functions for all pupils and can identify and address inequalities in provision. We are fortunate to have two excellent advisory groups – one involving statutory and community sector representatives, the other involving young people – to guide us in this work.
Beyond my research, I have taken an active role in postdoctoral life at Queen’s: I've helped to develop career and social support activities in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and have been a member of the University’s Postdoctoral Research Group. I also sit on the School of SSESW SWAN Committee to promote gender equality.
Outside work, I’m kept busy by my two dogs, who were rescues and now live in the lap of luxury! I’m a Quaker-appointed governor at Friends' School Lisburn and an avid crocheter, with my wedding dress in 2019 my proudest achievement.
- Welcome to postgraduate research student Bella Robinson who holds a Co-operative Award in Science and Technology, funded by the Department of Economy. Bella’s research, a collaborative project with the Centre and the Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre, focuses on community and volunteer-led language education initiatives for asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants. Bella has a background of volunteering within refugee and asylum seeker communities, supporting women who have been trafficked to overcome barriers to integration and language learning in Belfast.
- Ibrar Bhatt has been awarded a prestigious Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship to undertake research in the field of Literacy Studies. The project entitled Sino-Muslim Literacies draws on interpretive approaches in linguistic ethnography to examine writing and reading as primarily a social and cultural practice. It examines how Sino-Muslim religious, cultural and historical knowledge is produced and maintained through everyday and community literacy practices.
- This year marks the start of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages. Read more about this from Mel Engman on our Centre webpage.
- ‘Languages Provision in Further Education’ is a unique research project, funded by the British Academy, investigating trends in languages provision in the Further Education sector over the past 20 years in the UK. The research team, led by Ian Collen, is engaging with key stakeholder groups and conducting a UK-wide survey of FE staff and students.
- Sin Wang Chong’s TESOLgraphics project is producing infographical summaries of secondary research in Applied Linguistics and TESOL and making research findings accessible to teachers across globe. The visual summaries of secondary research which can be read in 5 minutes are proving really popular, with thousands of visitors to the website and a twitter following of almost 700! You can follow @tesolgraphics.
- The latest edition of BAAL News (British Association of Applied Linguistics) features contributions from several remarkable BAAL members offering perspectives on the future of BAAL and Applied Linguistics. Centre Director Aisling O’Boyle is one of them!
Queen’s Innovation Zones is a Queen’s Social Charter Signature initiative that has been working alongside two influential community organisations in West Belfast for over five years. Together they have been finding innovative ways to provide opportunities for improving the health, education and wellbeing of children, young people and families facing disadvantage.
This interdisciplinary and intersectoral initiative is led by Liam O’Hare (School of SSESW) and works with the Shankill Children and Young People’s Zone and the Colin Neighbourhood Partnership. They are supported by many partners including the Northern Ireland (NI) Executive Office (Urban Villages initiative), NI Public Health Agency, Ulster Orchestra and leading research funders such as the National Institute of Health Research.
The Innovation Zones, community organisations and partners use a powerful combination of shared goal setting, critical thinking and creativity to develop innovative approaches, which incorporate research evidence on ‘what works’ and use community insight to understand ‘who it works for’ and in ‘what circumstances’.
Some of the emerging innovations and affiliated projects include: Crescendo, a community music education, social and emotional development programme; Conversations, a method for facilitating, understanding and acting on the aspirations of disadvantaged children and young people; and Common Assets, a UK wide community and university collaboration to understand the health benefits that local community led organisations provide.
Liam O’Hare is an expert in the design, implementation and evaluation of social and educational innovation programmes. He works within community and university partnerships to improve educational attainment and wellbeing outcomes of disadvantaged children, young people and families both locally and internationally.
Liam said: ‘I think community and university partnership working is the most enjoyable work an academic can do. You work with fantastic partners and use research to provide opportunities to people who will benefit from them the most.’
I am a final-year undergraduate student on the BA Criminology course at School of Social Sciences, Education, and Social Work (SSESW) at Queen’s University. I am the proud mother of seven children and grandmother to one grandson, with two more grandchildren due later this year. I was raised by an incredibly strong woman, my mother Joyce, who sadly passed away during my studies after battling cancer.
I was researching my next academic options while finishing an access to higher education course in Social Sciences and Humanities at my local tech when I came across the Queen’s University criminology programme. After spending most of my working life as a prison officer, criminology seemed like a natural fit for me. After attending their open day, meeting with the staff and walking around the campus, I decided SSESW was the place for me. The staff are extremely friendly and knowledgeable about their respective fields.
I enjoyed being part of SSESW so much that I became the course rep for Criminology with Quantitative Methods in my second year and then school rep in my final year. Being an SSESW school rep has been an honour and has boosted my self-esteem. I would strongly advise students to apply for course and school rep positions if the opportunity arises. The training and support you will receive will help you develop employability skills. I have taken advantage of numerous opportunities since joining Queen’s, and I have achieved Degree Plus status by participating in the extra-curricular activities offered. I am also a volunteer editor for the SSESW journal, which is now in its second year of publication, and I was fortunate enough to have one of my own entries published in the journal during its first year.
Even though I am nearing the end of my undergraduate degree, I sit in the quad, soaking in the surroundings and still pinching myself that I am a student at Queen’s. It's one of the best decisions I ever made. I am unsure of what my next steps are. I have applied for a Master’s in Youth Justice at Queen’s but have also applied for jobs to help me expand my skillset in this area, so I guess … watch this space. Coming to university has opened so many doors for me that I never would have even knocked on before. I have made life-long friends with students and staff alike.
School of SSESW academic Tess Maginess was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Research Engagement for ‘consistently going over and above to work in an inclusive and collaborative way’.
Tess commented: ‘For 20 years, our Open Learning Programme has conducted award-winning research on innovative engaged pedagogies with community-based partners, especially disadvantaged groups.
This work focuses on ‘grand challenge’ themes, including mental health and ageing. Valuing partners’ expertise, Open Learning co-designs programmes with partners and offers accredited workshop learning, with support systems for participants.
We developed an international partnership with the University of Fraser Valley, British Columbia, to devise a Photovoice project. It uses arts-based workshops with rural migrant women in British Columbia and Northern Ireland, to explore exclusion and belonging and to engage in knowledge exchange, intercultural learning, capacity building and mentoring. It will create recommendations for policy and relevant lifelong learning initiatives. Our partnership with University of Atypical will help disseminate the project widely.
We delivered a Professional Skills Certificate pilot online module on Cultural Understanding for Queen’s undergraduates, based on Sustainable Development Goal themes: Valuing Black Lives; Climate Change; Ageing; Intercultural Understanding – Migrant Experiences; and Active Civic Democracy. Literature, film and music were incorporated to really connect with learners about key ‘Real World’ topics.
With Arts Council funding we delivered a co-designed programme with older people, Artage (Arts and older people), on representations of ageing in literature, building on my research with students on learning and ageing and on dementia in literature. Results from this partnership between Open Learning, Age NI, Commission for Older People and u3a will be disseminated through a website created with The Nerve Centre.
Our research project on community lifelong learning needs surveyed community and voluntary groups commonly marginalised, including The Migrant Centre NI, Transgender NI and Disability Action. The survey revealed interest in co-designing a course with Open Learning. In Phase two, we interviewed community stakeholders. Topics on the resulting course included Understanding Northern Ireland for BAME communities and Active Citizenship Through an LGBTQI Lens.’
Alongside a busy career and her studies on our MSc Systemic Practice and Family Therapy, social worker Ciara Smyth is making her name as an award winning children’s author by blending her creative skills with her social work experience. Her latest book has won a Waterstones Children's Books Award.
Ciara commented on her writing success:
'After completing a BA in Drama, I graduated from my BSW Social Work graduate route in 2020. While I was studying I was simultaneously writing my debut novel The Falling in Love Montage and my second novel Not My Problem. Both books are for young people. The Falling in Love Montage was the recipient of the Children's Books Ireland Junior Juries' Award 2021 and most recently Not My Problem was the Winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Award for the Older Readers Category.
I wrote Not My Problem during my final year at Queen’s and I think my work definitely reflects my experiences of being a student social worker at the time. Not My Problem is a story about Aideen who is struggling with school, friendships and her mum's alcohol use. She tries to avoid dealing with her own problems by solving problems for others. Along the way she gets into a lot of mischief and her sense of humour and budding new friendships carry her through difficult times. It was a real thrill and honour to win this prize because the Waterstones Belfast store is practically my second home!’
Ciara’s latest book is available at Not My Problem.
School of SSESW academic Catherine Storey, who was appointed recently to the board of the UK Society for Behaviour Analysis, was invited to deliver the keynote talk at the Beyond Autism Conference in May. Usually based in London, the conference was online this year due to the pandemic. The conference theme this year was ‘Whose decision is it anyway?’
Beyond Autism is a charity devoted to ensuring that every autistic person has access to an education that empowers them to lead a life full of choice, empowerment, independence and opportunity. The conference attracts participants from across the UK including key policy makers, politicians, local education authorities, students, clinicians and professionals from a broad range of disciplines. It offers expert speakers who tackle the real questions faced by professionals striving to educate children and young adults towards a life with as much independence as possible.
Catherine’s keynote talk focussed on the importance of involving autistic people in the research that is conducted about their lives, from planning the project through to dissemination of outcomes, to bridge the gap between research and practice and ensure that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) research is meaningful and impactful to those individuals to whom it directly relates. Catherine’s input to the conference was based on expertise gained from her current research on video-based interventions for promoting positive social behaviour for people with ASD. This systematic review and meta-analysis has invited autistic individuals to participate in an expert advisory group that will directly advise the project partners on the most useful and impactful data that should be extracted from the existing research and ultimately shared with key stakeholders and policy makers in the Autism Spectrum Disorder field.
Social Work academic Karen Winter is part of a research team that has been awarded £860,818 by the Economic and Social Research Council for a new project on ‘0-3-year old children’s language and literacy learning at home in a digital age (0-3s, Tech and Talk)’.
Focussing on 0-3-year-olds at home in diverse mono- and multi-lingual communities in each of the four UK nations, this two-year study will explore how society’s youngest children develop language and literacy as they interact with people and with digital devices to communicate in creative, playful and collaborative ways across the diverse representational and sensory modes available in digital platforms.
The research project addresses the current research gap around how very young children interact with, around and through digital media, what devices and platforms they have access to, how long-standing social divides determine digital device ownership and use, and how parents, carers and siblings in majority and minority ethnic, privileged and disadvantaged UK communities support 0-3-year-olds' learning with digital media.
The study design includes a UK-wide survey of parents/guardians with very young children, interviews with parents/guardians and early education and care professionals, followed by in-depth ethnographic case studies of 40 young children’s everyday language and literacy practices at home with their families. It is hoped that a small group of very young children who are in care will be included in the study. The study will be supported by an international advisory board, running from Spring 2022-Spring 2024.
The project team is led by Prof Rosie Flewitt (Manchester Metropolitan University, Principal Investigator) and includes Co-Investigators from across the UK: Prof Karen Winter (Queen’s University Belfast), Dr Lorna Arnott (University of Strathclyde), Prof Julia Gillen (Lancaster University) and Dr Janet Goodall (Swansea University).
Karen’s contribution will draw on her research expertise in undertaking ethnographic research with young children, focusing on communication, in their home environments and on her research with young children in care. More information is available on the UK Research and Innovation website 0-3s, Tech and Talk project summary web page.
Deaths involving heroin, morphine and cocaine were the highest on record in Northern Ireland in 2019. At a launch event in April, colleagues from our Drugs and Alcohol Research Network joined the Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service and colleagues from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency to outline findings from a feasibility study on reducing opioid-related deaths.
The study assessed the feasibility of ‘wearing’ a device within a sample from a homeless hostel population. The device monitors the wearer’s vital signs, transferring data from the device to a backend cloud service and alerting the wearer to a potential overdose. It triggers help that, in the first instance, takes the form of the self-administration of the drug Naloxone or, if no response, supported by GPS technology, dials out to emergency medical services for help and treatment.
The initial phase of the project involved focus groups from two Northern Ireland prisons, seeking views on the wearable product and the feasibility of the project from people at risk of opioid overdose on return to the community. These co-produced views continue to inform prototype design, development and implementation. The second phase of the project involved participants wearing the current commercial device whilst in a homeless shelter and under the supervision of staff.
The assessment of feasibility included data generated through the wearable devices, the views of project participants and those in the prison opioid population who agreed to be involved. From the data obtained from the wearables devices, it was concluded that it was feasible to use a wearable device for monitoring opioid users’ biomarkers remotely.
The research team (Anne Campbell, Sharon Millen, Amanda Taylor Beswick) is part of a four nation Medical Research Council funding application for a five-year project to trial and monitor the devices across the UK, in an effort to reduce opioid related overdose deaths.
Drawing on research carried out in partnership with Barnardos Fostering Northern Ireland, School of SSESW social work lecturers Mandi MacDonald and Gerry Marshall launched an e-learning resource to help promote lasting supportive relationships in foster care.
Long-term foster care is intended to provide young people with continuous, caring relationships that last into adult life. However, many care leavers can feel isolated and navigate early adulthood without a strong social network. Enabling young people to benefit from lasting supportive relationships with their foster family is, therefore, a priority.
Learning from care experienced adults and their former foster carers, who have stayed connected, the SSESW research identified the active ingredients of lasting foster family relationships, and the conditions in which they could thrive.
To help embed key messages from the research into social work and foster care practice, the SSESW team have produced a Research for Practice Summary and an e-learning resource which summarise key themes and offer suggestions and reflective prompts to stimulate creative individual-level micro practices, or larger scale policy and practice initiatives. The e-learning presents a series of short videos, each followed by prompts for individual reflection or group discussion, and is designed to be used by individual practitioners or teams, either in one sitting or over a series of team meetings or self-guided workshops.
The resources are hosted on the Barnardos University learning platform as learning for Barnardos staff and volunteers across the UK. They can also be accessed from Queen’s University website at Lasting Relationships in Foster Care
For more information contact Dr Mandi MacDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org
The School of SSESW is collaborating with two South African universities, Rhodes University and the University of Fort Hare, in an important five year programme to support inclusive and engaged research projects which seek to address local socio-educational challenges in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The process involves building capacity and long-term networks for cross-institutional and international research projects to address global challenges.
It is centred around the research of ten academic and professional staff members from the two South African universities, who share a commitment to create conducive research cultures which cross their historically black/white institutional divides. The research topics cut across a number of Sustainable Development Goals, as do many of our research interests in Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s University.
The project is led at Queen’s by Dina Zoe Belluigi (Education) and Lorna Montgomery (Social Work), with prior input from Danielle Turney (Social Work, Professor Emeritus) and support early on from Jannette Elwood and later from Emma Flynn, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise. As Visiting Scholars, each researcher from South Africa has been connected with academics and researchers at the School of SSESW who are interested in building long-term research relationships with the scholars and their local supervisors, in what may become a multidisciplinary network of researchers, practitioners and civil society organisations in South Africa.
We hope to create even more openings by providing spaces for engagement during events scheduled over 14 days in Belfast in June 2022. Informal pictures of engagements are posted on Instagram, and the group can also be followed on Twitter. The overall project (2021-2025) is funded by the British Council and the Department for Higher Education and Training of South Africa.
At the launch of the latest Northern Ireland Policing Board’s (NIPB) Annual Human Rights Report, the ongoing stop and search research of School of SSESW criminologist John Topping continues to impact on police policy and practice in the country. In recommendation 11 of the Report, the NIPB Human Rights Advisor requested that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) publish research they commissioned by John Topping around stop and search practice by PSNI.
Acknowledging the contribution of his work to understandings of stop and search more generally, Recommendation 11 of the Annual Report states:
"Research undertaken for the PSNI by Dr Topping found that PSNI officers felt pressured to conduct high volumes of searches and that this was in response to the specific culture inside individual states rather than any formal target-setting reasons."
The recommendation goes on to note that: “The PSNI should publish Dr Topping’s research and provide an official response to its findings."
John responded: “While the PSNI remains a heavily overseen police service, ‘ordinary’ stop and search powers remain elusive to pin down within the regulatory framework. The powers of stop and search remain controversial both locally for PSNI as well as nationally within a UK policing context. What my research provides is not just an understanding of the volume and outcomes related to PSNI - which remain some of the poorest by UK policing standards - but a window into understandings around why stop and search remains problematic at an organisational level. We await to see if PSNI will follow the Human Rights Advisor’s recommendation to publish the commissioned work."
John’s other research around stop and search includes Young People’s Experiences of Police Stop and Search Powers in Northern Ireland and The (In)Visibility of Police Stop and Search in Northern Ireland.
Aisling O’Boyle, Director of our Centre for Language Education Research, has co-authored a new book entitled Corpus Linguistics for English for Academic Purposes (EAP). The area of corpus linguistics is one of the most dynamic and rapidly developing areas in the field of language studies and the use of corpora is essential in any modern linguistic research.
The book shows how corpus analyses can enhance students’, practitioners’ and researchers’ knowledge of academic language. It provides a reader-friendly discussion of the key concepts, practices and research applications of corpus linguistics which are relevant to the EAP community and empowers readers to compile and analyze EAP-relevant corpora to support their own practice.
Aisling and co-author Vander Viana have worked on several corpus-based projects and are part of an international network of researchers. This book is part of the series edited by Dr Anne O’Keeffe and Professor Mike McCarthy and co-founded by the late Ronald Carter (1947-2018).
Reviewing the contribution of this book to the field of corpus linguistics and English for Academic Purposes, Professor Key Hyland notes it “is an exceptionally valuable addition to the literature on EAP and will be extremely useful to those seeking to learn how they can use corpora to both research and teach academic English."
You can read more about it on the publisher website Corpus Linguistics for English for Academic Purposes - 1st Edition - V (routledge.com) and follow @CLER_QUB for news on upcoming guest speaker book events from the Centre for Language Education Research.