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Social Work

Social Work Research

The School of Social Work has a vibrant community of research-active staff engaged in a wide range of research activities.

Meet our Researchers

"I am based in the Connect Centre for International Research on Inter-personal Violence and Harm and I research three key areas:

  • Domestic abuse with a specialism in the experiences of, and service responses to, minoritised women experiencing abuse including forced marriage;
  • Attempted suicide and self-harm and
  • Intersections of gender based violence with immigration and asylum policy.

I am currently working on a study exploring men’s experiences of being pressurised or forced to marry."

UCLan’s School of Social Work has a reputation for world-leading research in social work and social policy. Our research falls into three cross-cutting strands: Children, Young People and Families; Psychosocial Wellbeing and Mental Health; Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice. The overarching aim is to produce knowledge that has value for policy and practice and generates new thinking – research that makes a difference. We have a particular focus on researching with the participation of individuals and groups beyond the academic world, as service users, community members and citizens. Our research has been influential in the reform of child care in Eastern Europe and Central Asia as well as in the UK. We lead the ‘Making Research Count’ network in North-West England.

Our four research Centres play a key strategic role in maximising research opportunities and ensuring profile, impact and academic excellence. The Psychosocial Research Unit, founded in 2006, developed from scholarship on the psychosocial dimensions of social responsiveness, recognition and responsibility through empirical and methodological work in health, welfare, cultural and youth justice settings. The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation is the only research centre in the UK focused specifically on children and young people’s participation. Established in 2008, The Centre is a founding member of the International Childhood and Youth Research Network and of the Research Group on Children’s Ombudspersons. The Connect Centre for International Research on Interpersonal Violence and Harm, launched in 2013, is developing a programme of strategically focused international research activity on preventing violence and harm across the life course. Also established in 2013 and based in Preston and London, the Centre for Citizenship and Community is leading cross-disciplinary work on community engagement, inclusion and wellbeing, and social care interventions to promote community participation.


Children, Young People and Families

This has long been a well-established research strand at UCLan, mainly focusing on the key areas of child protection, children’s rights, looked after children and a range of evaluations of major initiatives. We recently led the national evaluation of Social Work Practices for DfE in England, and have also conducted major quantitative studies of child abuse and protection.

We established The Centre in 2008 to research and promote children and young people’s participation, inclusion and empowerment, and to work with children and young people as co- researchers. We have a major and expanding programme of research into domestic and family violence. We have been involved in evaluating Children’s Commissioners in Wales and Northern Ireland, and are co-founders of the international Research Group on Ombudspersons for Children. We have also studied child trafficking and child migrants, looked after children and juvenile justice, and have advised internationally on service standards, community-based support and legislation for child care systems. Much of our research has an international perspective: recent projects have been carried out in Bulgaria, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Australia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Peru. We have undertaken research and consultancy for a wide range of organisations and agencies including in the UK: BASPCAN, Children’s Commissioner for England, Children’s Fund, Department for Education and Skills, ESRC, NCH, NSPCC and NIHR. Our international research has included work for: EveryChild, National Children’s Office Ireland, Save the Children, UNDP, UNICEF and World Vision International.

The School has a strong track record for research in the field of social justice and work within the School addresses social justice both as an outcome and as a process. For example, we have completed research in areas such as mental health, substance misuse, community cohesion and policing that has sought to identify and reduce the inequalities and disparities in outcome that are experienced by some communities in relation to others, but we have also sought to use the process of research itself to address inequality by embedding the principles of participation and strengths based approaches to the methods that we use. An example of this is some work that we are currently doing in the Roma ghetto in Kyustendil, Bulgaria where we have trained and supported a small team of local Roma people to pilot and develop a number of initiatives to improve educational outcomes. Other examples include working with LGB organisations to improve health outcomes for LGB people while at the same time building the capacity and expertise of LGB organisations.

The Centre for Children and Young People's Participation

The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation is concerned with promoting and researching participation, inclusion and empowerment.

The Centre is a forum for shared thinking. We promote seminars, workshops, conferences and publications and implement a planned programme of research. We focus on building links between academics, policy makers and practitioners as well as developing international links.

Children and young people are involved in every part of the process – managing the Centre, planning the research programme, and carrying out research. We hold regular meetings where adults and young people work together to plan the work of The Centre and design research projects.

Research Centre: The Connect Centre for International Research on New Approaches to Prevent Violence and Harm

The Connect Centre is developing a programme of strategically focused international research activity on preventing violence and harm across the life course. We aim to make connections and challenge fragmented thinking about violence and abuse and its impact in order to develop new and better research on preventing harm and protecting adults/children. We bring together: research on gendered violence to adults and child victimisation; research on polyvictimisation experiences and adversities across the life course; research on preventing violence and harm in low, middle and high income contexts; research and practice knowledge about victims and perpetrators, including young people who harm others.

The Connect Centre also conducts policy and practice focused research and provides specialist environment for PhD/postgraduate research training; consultancy; a forum and opportunities for cross disciplinary and international networking, debate and collective influencing and supports activities for knowledge exchange and the use of research to influence change.


Centre for Citizenship and Community

The Centre for Citizenship and Community is a collaboration between the university and the Royal Society of Arts with the Royal Society for Public Health and the Personal Social Services Research unit at LSE. It brings together the expertise of these partners with the experience of an associates network whose respective experience and skill mix includes, at senior level, leadership, research, policy and practice development in health and social care and beyond this, in public policy fields that include housing, criminal justice, drugs and alcohol services, arts and culture and Higher and Further education. 

At the heart of our work is 'Communities Connected', a five year programme in a range of community settings around the UK directed at supporting and evaluating local interventions for achieving health, wellbeing or inclusion outcomes through engaging, articulating and harnessing the power of social and community networks.

With a focus on the social and values base to policy, research and practice; the Centre works with policy makers, commissioners, providers and communities to ensure that services are designed, developed, commissioned and delivered with citizens and their communities in the most appreciative, effective and integrated way possible.

Psychosocial Research Unit

The Psychosocial Research Unit was created to further the theory and application of psychosocial studies and approaches to research. The Unit forms part of the School of Social Work and currently pursues research in the socially engaged arts, addiction and substance misuse, communities, democracy and social policy. The Unit aims to push the boundaries of research methodology in the social sciences and actively seeks to create, discover or improve methodologies as part of the psychosocial approach. One of our areas of methodological interest is in the use of visual methods in understanding human complexity. The Psychosocial Research Unit consists of a core team directed by Professor Lynn Froggett, supported by Dr Alastair Roy, and Dr Julian Manley. Other colleagues from the School of Social Work also collaborate in the Unit’s research projects and teaching commitments. We aim to encourage inter-disciplinary exchanges within the university and do this partly through a seminar series called Imagination & Inquiry. These seminars include theoretical and experiential elements and are designed to attract a diverse range of participants from within and outside the university. The Psychosocial Research Unit is nationally renowned for its ground breaking work in the field and hosted the Association for Psychosocial Studies annual conference in 2014. 


Chinyere Elsie Ajayi

Registration date: tbc

Expected submission date: tbc

Director of Studies: Professor Lorraine Radford

Supervisory team members: Dr. Khatidja Chantler


William Aindow

Registration date: 01/10/2013

Expected submission date: tbc

Director of Studies: Dr. Helen Spandler

Supervisory team members: Dr. Julie Ridley and Mark Foord

Victoria Baker

Registration date: 01/01/2014
Expected submission date: 31/12/2019
Director of Studies: Professor Lorraine Radford
Supervisory team members: Professor Nigel Patrick Thomas and TBD

Kelly Bracewell

Registration date: 1/01/2013
Expected submission date: 31/12/2015
Director of Studies: Professor Nicky Stanley
Supervisory team members: Dr. Cath Larkins, Professor Lorraine Radford

As a Research Student in the School of Social Work I am focusing on domestic violence interventions for young people. I am also a student representative on the research committee. I have ongoing work experience within the voluntary sector, working and volunteering for a domestic violence organisation for over 7 years. I have also assisted with the Launch of the Connect Centre (an international centre for research on interpersonal violence and harm) and a number of studies related to the issue of domestic violence.

My aim is to influence policy and practice to provide more effective and appropriate responses in relation to domestic violence and abuse.

I have completed the Teaching Toolkit qualification at UCLAN, obtained the SEDA Award and I am associate member of the Higher Education Academy.

I presented a paper – entitled ‘Teenagers’ experiences of domestic violence refuges; at a UCLan conference on the 23rd October 2013.

My qualifications are:

  • MA (By Research) Protection of Borders or Protection Women: Recently arrived immigrant women in the UK, violence and immigration policies
  • BA (Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice, First Class

My interests include:

  • Domestic Violence and Abuse
  • Sexual Violence including sexual exploitation
  • Trafficking
  • Victimisation
  • Violence prevention
  • Gender
  • Feminism
  • Feminist Methods
  • Participatory methods
  • Immigration/Migration of women and children, and methods of working with children and young people

Matthew Hemming

Registration date: 1/01/2014
Expected submission date: 31/12/2019
Director of Studies: Dr. Helen Spandler
Supervisory team members: Dr. Julie Ridley, Dr. Ali Roy

Peoples lived experiences of community treatment orders (CTO) under the Mental Health Act 2007. I wish to use a narrative approach to discover experiences from a service user perspective, minimising interviewer bias and effect on data collected. I am interested in perceived coercion, the therapeutic relationship, effects on social networks and the ethical standing of CTO’s. Of course with my narrative approach, and wish for a lack of direction of the service user, none of these may come up and things I have not considered may arise. The person’s story will be what it may and will reveal whatever it will.

School Seminars

10th December 2014

Social Abjection: The Political Aesthetics of Disgust in Neoliberal Times

Imogen Tyler. Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Lancaster University.

Connect Centre for International Research on Interpersonal Violence and Harm 

22nd October 2014

Young(er) People's Understanding of Men's Violence Against Women'

Nancy Lombard Reader in Sociology and Social Policy, Glasgow Caledonian University

25th March 2015

Adolescent -to-parent abuse: The experiences and accounts of young people

Victoria Baker, PhD Student, School of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire

Imagination and Inquiry Seminar Series

19 June 2015

The Second Breath: New Thinking on Climate Change

Tessa Gordziejko (Creative Director, Imove Arts Ltd) and Tom Hunt (Performing Artist). This was a special event in the Imagination and Inquiry seminar series and was organised by the Psychosocial Research Unit at the University of Central Lancashire and funded by the Gordon Lawrence Foundation

29 April 2015

Role: Finding the freedom to make a difference

John Bazalgette, Honorary Fellow, Grubb School of Organisational Analysis

11 March 2015

'Such endings that are not over' Social Dreaming and the legacies of the slave trade.

Dr Julian Manley, Psychosocial Research Unit, University of Central Lancashire; Dr Myna Trustram, Manchester Metropolitan University

19 November 2014

Surrendering to the dream: unconscious communication, affect and method in research

Dr Jo Whitehouse-Hart, Lecturer in Media and Communication, University of Leicester

10th October 2013

Globalisation, art and displacement anxiety.

Professor Lynn Froggett, Psychosocial Research Unit, School of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire.

26th September 2013

A Collage of Fragments: Visual Memories, Perceptions, Associations and Meaning.

Dr. Julian Manley, Research Associate, Psychosocial Research Unit, School of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire.
William Titley, Lecturer, School of Art, Design and Performance, University of Central Lancashire.

15th May 2013

Culture Change: art, culture and the recovery agenda.

Dr. Ali Roy, The Psychosocial Research Unit, School of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire.
Mark Prest, Director, Portraits of Recovery, Manchester.

17th April 2013

Mouths and Meaning – a creative and interdisciplinary approach towards understanding of disordered eating

Bronwyn Platten, Artist and Researcher.

6th March 2013

Reason and Imagination in empirical judgement

Professor Tim Thornton, Professor of Philosophy and Mental Health, School of Health, University of Central Lancashire.

29th February 2013

The Number 10 shirt and the ‘enchantment’ of Diego Maradona

Professor John Hughson, Professor of Sport and Cultural Studies, School of Sport, Tourism and the Outdoors, University of Central Lancashire.

27th February 2013

We are all unreliable narrators

Naomi Kruger,
Lancaster University.

24th January 2013

The First of England: Photographs of the Kindertransport memorials at Liverpool Street Station

Myna Trustram,
Manchester Metropolitan University

28th November 2012

The challenge of authenticity in popular music: the case of Elvis Costello.

Professor David Pilgrim, University of Liverpool.

Seminars of The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation

23rd May 2013

Plan B for Youth

Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Children’s Minister.

1st May 2013

Dream-crushing, prejudices and revolving doors: challenging myths about young people who are NEET.

Barry Percy-Smith, Reader in Childhood and Participatory Practice, University of the West of England.

20th March 2013

Muslim Children’s rights in a cold climate? Problematising UK Government counter-radicalisation in the War on Terror. (English language version)
Muslim Children’s rights in a cold climate? (Arabic version)
Muslim Children’s rights in a cold climate? (Chinese version)
Muslim Children’s rights in a cold climate? (German version)
Muslim Children’s rights in a cold climate? (Polish version)

Vicki Coppock

19th February 2013

Children and young people as active citizens promoting social justice. (English languages version)
Children and young people as active citizens promoting social justice. (Non-English version)

Claire O’Kane, Freelance Researcher and Advocate.

6th February 2013

Youth participation and the state: reshaping the machinery of governance with and for young people’s voices. (English language version)
Youth participation and the state: reshaping the machinery of governance with and for young people’s voices. (Arabic version)
Youth participation and the state: reshaping the machinery of governance with and for young people’s voices. (Chinese version)
Youth participation and the state: reshaping the machinery of governance with and for young people’s voices. (German version)

Dan Moxon, Regional Participation Officer, North West Regional Youth Work Unit.

School Research Seminars

11th June 2013

A Road to Nowhere: high frequency contact for infants in foster care.

Professor Cathy Humphreys, University of Melbourne.

8th May 2013

Practice Educators’ perspectives on the competence of students to practice social work.

Clare Stone, School of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire.

5th December 2012

Drug and alcohol use and dependency among LGB people in England: the results from the first three years of a five year study.

Jez Buffin, School of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire.

27th November 2012

Exploring Love in Social Work (English language version)
Exploring Love in Social Work (Polish version)
Exploring Love in Social Work (German version)
Exploring Love in Social Work (Chinese version)
Exploring Love in Social Work (Arabic version)

Hilda Thrana, PhD Fellow from the University in Lillehammer in Norway.

15 & 16th November 2012

Recognition and Social Welfare: A Symposium

When I look I am seen, so I exist’: supplementing Honneth’s recognition model for social work.
Dr. Stan Houston, Reader in Social Work, Queen’s University, Belfast.

Deviation as a maldevelopment or a potential resource: Recognition, norms and power in the positioning of children and young people perceived as vulnerable.
Professor Hanne Warming, Director of the Research Group, Changing Societies: Citizenship, Participation and Power, University of Roskilde.

The relevance of Honneth’s Theory of recognition to children’s participation in society.
Professor Nigel Thomas, School of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire.

Other contributors:

Dr. Robyn Fitzgerald, Postdoctoral Fellow with the Centre for Children and Young People (CYYP) at Southern Cross University in New South Wales.
Professor Anne Graham, Director of CYYP, Southern Cross University, New South Wales.

7th November 2012

Bipolar relatives: involved or invisible? (English language version)
Bipolar relatives: involved or invisible? (Chinese version)

Gerasimos Chatzidamianos, Senior Research Associate
Lord Milo Douglas, Memorial Fellow


Nazir Afzal OBE

Honorary Fellow, University of Central Lancashire.

Position: Chief Crown Prosecutor, Crown Prosecution Service.

Significant achievements:

  • OBE in 2004
  • Pro-Chancellor at Brunel University
  • UK Government Justice Award 2007
  • Daily Mirror People’s Award 2007
  • CPS Public Servant of the Year 2007
  • Law Society/Bar Counsel Mentor of the Year 2009
  • Man of the Year 2012 in the Asian Media Awards
  • British Muslim Award for Excellence in Law 2013

Connection with UCLan and the School of Social Work:

Developing a new relationship between UCLAN and the Crown Prosecution Service both regionally and nationally in order to identify ways of tackling and preventing violence against women and girls.

Personal statement:

I am privileged to be an Honorary Fellow of the University and I have taken this responsibility to heart.  Within the Crown Prosecution Service, I am the national lead for tackling violence against women and girls and child sexual abuse and whilst prosecuting such crimes is absolutely essential and improvements are being made daily, anything that can develop strategies for prevention and disruption of this type of activity needs to be supported and the work that UCLAN is doing is a significant contribution to that.  Giving people the tools to do the job is one thing, changing a culture is another and this can only be done through education and awareness raising.  Both of these are places in which UCLAN and the Crown Prosecution Service can work together better in the future.

Further information:

Nazir Afzal OBE, is Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North West of England and formerly Legal Director in CPS London.

During a 22 year career, Nazir has prosecuted some of the most high profile cases in the country and advised on many others. Many of his cases have set precedents for how the criminal law should operate. The present high profile of several subjects owes a considerable amount to Nazir's tireless 'campaigning' on the issues. He leads nationally on several legal topics including Violence against Women & Girls, child sexual abuse, and honour based violence. He led the criminal justice response to the disorders in Greater Manchester which brought great reassurance to a frightened public. He successfully prosecuted the gang that groomed young girls in Rochdale, successfully prosecuted BBC presenter Stuart Hall and the killer of two female police officers. He advises UK government ministers and trains lawyers and judges from other countries including the US and Canada. He has responsibility for more than 100,000 other prosecutions each year.

Nazir is a tutor for several leadership programmes in the public and private sector. He has made presentations to dozens of diverse organisations in this country and abroad. He is on the European Union and Council of Europe list of expert speakers. He has given hundreds of interviews in all forms of media. He is also legal adviser to the successful ITV series “Law and Order UK” and legal advisor to the BBC Eastenders drama series.  In addition to his CPS commitments, Nazir gives a considerable amount of time to charitable work and is trustee of several and Chair of the Prince of Wales’ Mosaic Trust in the NW. He is Pro Chancellor of Brunel University and unpaid consultant to voluntary sector organisations working with vulnerable people. He sits on a FA disciplinary committee and was recently made a Honorary Fellow of the University of Central Lancashire.

Nazir has received many accolades, in 2005, he was awarded an OBE by the Queen for his work with the CPS and involvement with local communities. He has also had the honour of being the only lawyer to ever prosecute a case before the Queen. In 2007, he was awarded the CPS’s Public Servant of the year, named Legal Personality of the Year by the Society of Asian Lawyers, the UK Government’s Justice Award 2007 and awarded the Daily Mirror newspaper “People’s award” voted for by readers. He was awarded the Asian Woman Magazine Excellence Award and the Law Society/Bar Council Mentoring award.  Nazir was also selected for the Asian Power 100 along with the Muslim Power 100 list, recognised as one of the 100 most influential leading Muslims and Asians in the UK.  He has been listed in the Pakistan Power100 2012 which regards him as one of the 100 most influential people of Pakistani origin in the world today. Awarded the British Pakistani Jubilee Award 2012, A lifetime Achievement Award by the Power 100, and the British Muslim Award in 2013. He was Asian Media Group’s “Man of the Year 2012.”

MRC Image 


Making Research Count (MRC) is a national initiative and unique collaboration between several leading English universities including UCLan and various social work and social care services and organisations. It aims to bring together practitioner knowledge and expertise with informed understanding drawn from recent research and service user expertise. This is disseminated and delivered through an annual programme of events that are held across the North West. 

Agencies are invited to become subscribing members of MRC at UCLan where local and regional events aim to enable delegates to apply and develop their understanding of research to inform their existing skill, practice and policy developments. All attendees are issued with Certificates of Attendance for their CPD training and development records.

Benefits of Membership

Annual membership gives partners three bespoke individually tailored seminars, each of these are specifically designed for 40 members of staff per year. Membership also brings the benefits of a further 30 free places at the UCLan Making Research Count conference which is usually held in January of each year. In addition partners are always offered 3 free places at the diverse range of seminars being delivered for other MRC participants. Additional places can also be purchased at these events at very competitive prices.

Membership enables partners to ensure that busy practitioners are drawing on contemporary
Research to inform their work. This both benefits service users, organisation and meets the requirements of various regulatory bodies. Moreover as the events are held within local areas then membership enables staff from various levels of an organisation and from diverse disciplines to come together and explore common issues, themes and approaches. The annual conference brings practitioners together across various agencies to listen to knowledge from leading experts


UCLan currently has the following agencies as MRC partners:

  • Bolton MC (Adult and Children’s Services)
  • Blackpool Adult Social Care
  • Barnardos

We continue to seek to involve new partners- statutory or third sector- to further develop our MRC activities

Previous Events (2014-15)

  • Relationship-based Social Work (Professor Brid Featherstone, Professor Nicky Stanley and Professor Lynn Froggett)
  • Using Emotional Intelligence in Care Planning (Amanda Taylor)
  • 10 Years of the Mental Capacity Act (Professor Jill Manthorpe)
  • Protecting Young People from On-line Sexual Exploitation (Dr Tink Palmer)
  • Stress in Social Work (Dr Mike Webster and Mike Bush)
  • Personalisation and the Care Act 2014 (Dr Ali Gardner)
  • Poverty and the Rights of Disabled Children and Young People (Dr Cath Larkins and Dawn Judd)

News: Forthcoming events (2015-16)

15th September 2015 - Professor Michael Preston-Shoot ‘Self-neglect and Safeguarding’ (Blackpool)

17th September 2015 - Aneila Wenham and Steve Crossley ‘Troubled Families: Research and Practice’ (Bolton)

13th October 2015 - Professor Mike Stein ‘The Neglect of Neglect: Understanding and Working with Adolescent Neglect’

Jan 2016 Conference - ‘Social Work and Social Media’

For further details regarding any of our forthcoming events (including bookings) please contact Lorna Burrow, MRC Administrator, by email.

What do our partners and delegates say about MRC at UCLan

  • “The session was very interesting and thought provoking. A good opportunity to reflect on social work practice and the impact upon services users”.
  • “Really interesting, stimulating lectures about the use of self in SW, the importance of interpersonal skills, relationships, really relevant”.
  • “Has re-ignited my reasons for entering into social work”.
  • “Interesting day – good to have time to discuss and reflect. Good to have some wider analysis including politics put back into SW”
  • “Great to do training that links theory to practice in such meaningful way”

For further details, contact:

Professor Nicky Stanley (MRC Academic Lead)
Clare Stone (MRC Coordinator)
Lorna Burrow (MRC Administrator)