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Professor Nigel Patrick Thomas

Professor Emeritus of Childhood and Youth, Associate Director, The Centre for Children and Young People's Participation
School of Social Work, Care and Community

Patrick’s research embraces child welfare, children’s rights and theories of childhood, with a particular focus on children and young people’s participation. He has researched with children in care, young carers, school pupils and members of youth councils, using a range of innovative participatory methods. He is an Associate Director and co-founder of The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation. For seven years he co-edited the journal Children & Society, whose editorial board he now chairs. He is internationally known for his work on children and young people’s participation, and featured in the book Key Thinkers in Childhood Studies.

Patrick came to UCLan in 2007 as Professor of Childhood and Youth Research, and established The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation (together with Professor Andy Bilson) in 2008. He also held the position of Research Lead in the School of Social Work, Care and Community, and led the submission to REF2014. On retiring from full-time employment in 2017, he was appointed as Professor Emeritus of Childhood and Youth. In this role he continues to take an active part in the work of The Centre, including research projects, publications and research student supervision.

Following a first degree in Politics and Philosophy, Patrick qualified as a social worker and worked in a variety of roles as practitioner, manager and specialist advisor for more than twenty years, in Derbyshire and Oxfordshire. In 1992 he joined the University of Wales Swansea where he taught on, and later directed, the professional social work programme as well as establishing a Masters programme in Child Welfare and Applied Childhood Studies and an all-Wales post-qualifying programme in Child Care Practice. During this time he also completed his PhD on ‘Children’s Participation in Decisions When They are Looked After by the State’, which led to a number of publications and generated considerable interest. (A training and resource pack based on that research was adopted officially by governments in Wales and Scotland.) Patrick later helped to establish the Department of Childhood Studies at Swansea, before moving to UCLan in 2007. The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation (‘The Centre’) was established in collaboration with two groups of young people, and was the first academic research centre to be dedicated to children and young people’s participation. For 12 years now it has been a significant presence in the field internationally, as well as making a strong contribution to local capacity through its work with children and professionals. In 2012 under Patrick’s leadership, The Centre hosted the second international conference of ICYRNet (the International Childhood and Youth Research Network). This global event, which formed part of UCLan’s contribution to Preston’s Guild Year, was groundbreaking in that a children’s conference was held in parallel and delegates to both conferences were able to attend each other’s sessions and presentations. Patrick has been a leading contributor to ICYRNet, and also to Research Network 04 (Sociology of Children and Childhood) of the European Sociological Association. He was a Convenor of the Network from 2013 to 2017.