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Suzanne Wilson

Research Fellow in Social Inclusion and Community Engagement
School of Social Work, Care and Community
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Suzanne is a Research Fellow in Social Inclusion and Community Engagement at The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). The research agenda, which is in partnership with the Samuel Lindow Foundation and The Centre for Citizenship and Community, is to work with communities to identify effective and sustainable means of increasing community capital. This expanding portfolio of research focuses on working-class, coastal communities, often regarded as being ‘left-behind’.

The Centre for Citizenship and Community at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has developed the Connected Communities research approach (Parsfield, et al., 2015). The approach is used as a strategy for action based research in exploring how the community dimension of people’s lives contributes to well-being, and can be developed to analyse how different interventions build resilient, inclusive communities and empower individuals to take greater control of their lives, through relationships based on shared concerns and mutual trust. This process can serve to enhance community capital which refers to “the sum of assets including relationships in a community and the value that accrues from these” (Parsfield, et al., 2015, p.12). Rather than being a fixed methodological framework, the Connected Communities approach is purposefully one that is bespoke, responding to the unique features of each community as appropriate. In Cumbria the approach has been, and is currently being used, in some white working-class coastal communities with children and young people acting as community researchers. Completed research projects have shown that the children involved developed their community consciousness, their capacity and their sense of having a stake in their community, and co-produced interventions are currently being piloted in these communities. Learning from this research is currently being applied to develop resilience in communities following the COVID-19 crisis. This work is supported by my membership on West Cumbria Child Poverty Forum (WCCPF), whose aim is to share information and expertise and raise the profile of child poverty in West Cumbria, keeping the issue at the forefront of the public, and statutory services.

Suzanne is a Research Fellow in Social Inclusion and Community Engagement at The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). The research agenda, which is in partnership with the Samuel Lindow Foundation and The Centre for Citizenship and Community, is to work with communities to identify effective and sustainable means of increasing community capital. This expanding portfolio of research focuses on working-class, coastal communities, often regarded as being ‘left-behind’. It spans all along the Cumbrian coastline and includes partnership working with key stakeholders such as the Cumbria Police, Cumbria County Council and local schools. This research won a Golden Apple Award for ‘Best Community Imitative’ in 2019. Currently working towards a PhD, Suzanne was awarded a Commendation for her Msc Dissertation at Lancaster University, which explored community resilience in West Cumbria following the November 2010 floods and West Cumbrian Shootings of June 2011. This work was presented at the British Psychological Society annual conference in 2014. With over 10 years’ experience in mental health, Suzanne has worked with a range of local services such as Mind in West Cumbria, Whitehaven Community Trust and Psychological Services at WCH, and is trained in integrative counselling and brief solution focused coaching. Suzanne is passionate about social justice and equal opportunities, and is a member of the British Psychological Society, Social Policy Association, British Educational Research Association, West Cumbria Child Poverty Group, Academics Against Poverty and The Centre of Citizenship and Community. In June 2012 Suzanne was honoured to carry the Olympic flame through Carlisle, after being nominated as a Torchbearer for her charitable work for Mind in West Cumbria. This sparked a love for running, especially in the Cumbrian fells and coastline.

  • PhD Educational Sociology, UCLan, current I ​MPhil Applied Policy Science, UCLan, 2017 I MSc Psychological Research Methods, Lancaster University, 2013 I BSc (hons.) Psychology, University of Bath, 2006 I An Introduction to Brief, Solution Focused Therapy, 2016 I CMI Level 5 Certificate in Leadership & Management, 2015 I AQA Counselling Skills Level 1& 2, 2011 I Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector, 2010
  • Cumbria Golden Apple Awards 'Best Community Initiative', 2019 I The John O’Donoghue Award for Research’ for excellence in educational research, 2017
  • Community Engagement I Community Resilience I Community Development I Citizenship I Young People I Northern Coastal Communities
  • External Affiliations and Roles
  • COVID-19 Response Specific
  • Copeland Community Resilience Group I Cumbria Community Foundation: COVID-19 Response Grants Panel Member
  • West Lakes Academy, Egremont, Cumbria: Sponsor Governor, Link Pupil Premium Governor and Link Wellbeing Governor I West Cumbria Community Action Trust: Founding Trustee and Secretary I West Cumbria Child Poverty Forum I Well Whitehaven: Working Group I South Whitehaven Youth Partnership: Trustee I Cumbria Community Foundation: Grants Panel Member
  • Professional Bodies
  • British Psychological Society I European Community Psychology Association I Applied Social Policy Association I Academics Against Poverty I British Educational Research Association