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Psychosocial Research Unit

Psychosocial Research Unit

If you would like more information please contact:

Lynn Froggett | | @prupsychosocial

Ali Roy | 07939 482 364 | | @prupsychosocial

We provide action research and evaluation services to social art programmes, museums and other organisations engaging communities for civic renewal.

Core Team

Alan Farrier

Alan Farrier

Research Associate, School of Community Health and Midwifery

Lynn Froggett

Co-Director, Professor of Psychosocial Welfare, School of Social Work

Hugh Ortega Breton

Hugh Ortega Breton

Senior Research Assistant, School of Social Work, Care and Community


Dr. Alastair Roy

Co-Director, Reader in Social Research, 
School of Social Work


Penny Collinson

Course Leader, Senior Lecturer


Dr. Julian Manley

Research Associate, School of Social Work


Simon Rogerson

Senior Lecturer, School of Social Work


Dr. Helen Spandler

Reader in Mental Health, School of Social Work


Amanda Taylor

Senior Lecturer, School of Social Work


William Titley

Artist, School of Art, Design and Performance,

Dr. John Wainwright

Senior Lecturer, School of Social Work

Publications and Engagement

Details of our 2019 events will be publicised soon on our Twitter and Facebook accounts

Bennett, J, Froggett, L, Kenning, G, Manley, J, and Muller, L, (2019) Memory Loss and Scenic Experience: An Arts Based Investigation. Forum: Qualitative Social Research Sozialforschung, 20 (1). ISSN 1438-5627

Dooris, M. T, Farrier, A, and Froggett, L. (2018) Wellbeing: The Challenge of ‘Operationalising’ an Holistic Concept within a Reductionist Public Health ProgrammePerspectives in Public Health, 138 (2). pp. 93-99. ISSN 1757-9139

Froggett, L. (2018) Participant Experience in Art-Sport: Additive? Interactive? Transformative? in Sport in Society, Published online: 21 Feb 2018.

Manley, Julian and Roy, Alastair Neil (2017) The visual matrix: a psycho-social method for discovering unspoken complexities in social care practice. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, 22 (2). pp. 132-153. ISSN 1088-0763

Muller, L., Froggett, L., Bennett, J. (2018) Emergent knowledge in the third space of art-science, Leonardo 0, Vol 0, pp. 1-11.

Roy, Alastair Neil   (2016) Learning on the move: exploring work with vulnerable young men through the lens of movement. Applied Mobilities, 1 (2). pp. 207-218. ISSN 2380-0127

Roy, Alastair Neil   and Buchanan, Julian (2016) The Paradoxes of Recovery Policy: Exploring the Impact of Austerity and Responsibilisation for the Citizenship Claims of People with Drug Problems in Social Policy & Administration. ISSN 01445596

Events and News

News and Information related to current strands of research in PRU

Psychosocial Research Unit - Substance Misuse Strand

We have three ongoing projects in this strand. Together these projects demonstrate the explicit value of art congruent methods in generating new understandings as well as new forms of knowledge about social issues and stigmatised populations, because they allow different forms of thought and expression than are possible in other social science methods.

  1. Developing an Evidence Base for Recovery Oriented Drug and Alcohol Treatment.
    This is the first Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) developed within the School of Social Work at UCLan. Together with Crime Reduction Initiatives (CRI), this four-year project is delivering original work around the development of the UK evidence base on recovery oriented drug and alcohol treatment services. The project utilises mobile methods pioneered in the Psychosocial Research Unit and is producing highly original knowledge regarding the cultural transformation in CRI which has emerged as a result of the implementation of a recovery oriented model of practice. Phase one of the work has provided a critique of the development of sedentary practices that have characterized practice in the field in recent years arguing that achieving recovery objectives requires outward facing services. Phase two (September 2014 May 2016) will use mobile methods exploring the narratives of people in recovery in East Lancashire.
  2. ADDICT has been funded by the Wellcome Trust and delivered as an arts - social science collaboration. It uses socially engaged arts practice as a means of exploring the processes of recovery from drug & alcohol addiction. The artist researcher is using a spectrum of methodologies from staged scenarios, storytelling, scripts and improvisation, leading to a series of filmed and photographic portraits made with participants in recovery. The arts practice is accompanied by an interdisciplinary dialogue between a curator, addiction psychologist, the artists, and a psycho-social researcher. The project explores the methodological issues at play leading to conceptual development of socially engaged arts practices as a mode inquiry. It concludes by arguing that recovery is best conceived as a civil rights issue and that the arts can be a central means by which recovery communities might reconfigure existing stigmatised representations of those with addiction issues. The findings will be presented in a touring exhibition with venues to be announced soon.
  3. Researching recovery from drug and alcohol addiction with visual methods is a project funded by the Richard Benjamin Trust. Making sense of thoughts and feelings arising from recovery from substance misuse is a complex and fragile process. People in recovery often face difficulties in expressing the multiple complexities of meaning that accompany substance misuse and recovery. Through the use of visual methods, in particular the Visual Matrix we aim to support the understanding of these complex situations and provide alternatives for people in recovery and support staff. We are working with people in different stages of recovery, support staff and volunteers, in Manchester, Liverpool and London.

Cultural Attendance and Public Mental health

The Psychosocial Research Unit has recently completed two projects in its socially engaged arts strand. Cultural Attendance and Public Mental Health was commissioned by Manchester City Council (MCC) to study a pilot for its Health Trainer Service that reflects MCC’s move towards integrated health and cultural provision. The programme enabled Health Trainers to make full use of the city’s rich cultural offer when working with people with complex psychosocial and health problems. The study focused on the obstacles and opportunities in working across what have traditionally been sharply drawn boundaries. Health and cultural sector staff faced challenges in learning to work with one another, but significant benefits for service users eventually emerged. The study concluded that there were gains all round from incorporating cultural attendance into health provision and that further training and support would be needed to consolidate the new work cultures and practices that the programme initiated.

Between Arts and Social Science: Visual Matrix methodology

The contribution of public art to citizenship, identity and sense of place and belonging is an issue of hot debate now that prolonged austerity has impacted on resources available for commissions. Art in the public sphere is increasingly expected to respond to social agendas, (effectively doing ‘social’ work) and to demonstrate social impact. Researchers and evaluators have reached for social science methods ill-suited to capturing artistic value. As so often happens what counts is what can be counted – or at the very least described, missing the significance of artistic quality, and the public’s emotional and aesthetic response to an artwork, as well as its cultural and political meaning and significance.

The project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council under the Cultural Value programme, and has been tested in North Devon in relation to Damien Hirst’s Verity and Alex Hartley’s Nowhereisland. We have held visual matrix workshops in Bristol, London, Leeds and Birmingham for arts professionals and academics. The next step will be to develop the method in completely different contexts. From November we will be using the visual matrix to investigate transitions in old age from working life to retirement, from mental health to dementia, and from life to death. For this we will be collaborating with partners in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, funded by the Norwegian Research Council.

Courses and Postgraduate Study

PRU is a primarily a research team but its members contribute to undergraduate and post – teaching in the areas of our research expertise. We lead a Psychosocial Studies Course for the Social Work degree and undertake – MA and PhD supervision.

Expertise and Subject Areas

The aims of the Psychosocial Research Unit are:

  • To develop research capacity in psychosocial studies, in health, welfare, the cultural sector, social innovation and organisational dynamics
  • To develop practice-congruent research in collaboration with regional and national health and social care providers, the socially engaged arts and organisations concerned with innovation in the public realm
  • To develop a distinctive profile in psychosocial research in health, welfare, social innovation and the arts through a coherent portfolio of funded research and evaluation projects, publications, seminars and workshops and research degrees
  • To provide research-based input into postgraduate and undergraduate teaching programmes in areas of research expertise
  • To contribute to research degree supervision and training substantively and methodologically.
  • To develop international links, networks and research collaboration in health, welfare, the arts and the study of organisations
  • To become a recognised national centre of excellence in psychosocial research in health, welfare, the arts and organisations


Impact on Society

  • Community and Public Sphere: We aim to produce critical research which challenges the status quo and provides people, organisations and institutions with an evidence base that supports participation in community and society
  • Health and Wellbeing: Our research projects are directly focussed on mental health and general states of wellbeing in health, social care and community settings. Our research contributes to a greater appreciation of the factors which successfully underpin initiatives designed to enhance mental health and well-being.
  • Policy: Our research directly influences policy making forums through the dissemination of results to national, regional and local policy makers, and our targeting of key groups who put policy into practice
  • Practice Development: We work in partnership with the agencies that provide the sites for our research to co-produce knowledge, feed back results and develop recommendations.

Knowledge Generation and Dissemination

  • Publications: We aim to publish our research in a range of formats and forums which are accessible to the public and to academic audiences. Reports for commissioners of research are uploaded onto relevant websites and findings are published as articles in peer reviewed academic journals.
  • Seminars: PRU runs a monthly seminar series during the academic year called Imagination & Inquiry. The impact of the seminars is emphasised through their inter-disciplinary nature, their dual experiential and academic modes of communication, their wide and varied audience, from within and outside the university, and by regular visits from academics, artists and practitioners to share knowledge in different ways.
  • Conferences and Networks: Researchers in PRU regularly give papers to colleagues in other academic settings nationally and internationally. We have played a key role in building a number of cross-disciplinary networks and consortia out of which have come funding applications and publication programmes. PRU is organising and hosting the 1st Conference of the Association for Psychosocial Studies in 2014.
  • Teaching and learning: PRU supports research informed teaching by feeding research methods and expertise into teaching programmes and post-graduate supervision in the university. It leads the core Psychosocial Studies Course for Social Work Students.
  • Workshops and training: PRU offers different levels of dissemination. Our workshops are designed to develop the applications of our research in dialogue with practitioner communities. In some cases, we create and supply training in new methodologies that have been developed for practical applications.
  • Knowledge Transfer: PRU has developed the first Knowledge Transfer Partnership within the School of Social Work. This three year project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council is using innovative methods to develop new knowledge about recovery oriented models of care in the field of substance misuse.

Impact on Economy

  • Our work with the socially engaged arts provides a means of linking the development of assessing emotional and aesthetic appreciation to community building and urban economic regeneration. We are also developing research in the third sector.
  • Procedures: PRU creates resources for consultancy and training in its areas of research.

Related Research Groups

PRU is always looking to expand its interdisciplinary work with other Schools and Faculties. Psychosocial Studies is inherently multidisciplinary.

Other UCLan Research Centres:

Connect Centre for International Research on New Approaches to Prevent Violence and Harm
Centre for Citizenship and Community
The Centre for Children and Young People's Participation
Healthy Settings Unit

Related Projects

Current Projects

2014 Mobile Citizen’s Pilot Project: Mobile phone technology to train young citizen journalists (£9500 Big Lottery)


Mobile Citizens is a pilot project delivered by Kids Company working in partnership with photographer Mark Chilvers and Dr Alastair Roy from the University of Central Lancashire’s Psychosocial Research Unit. Mark and Alastair worked in collaboration with a group of young people, supporting them to develop skills in citizen-photo-journalism and encouraging them to report on their own lives and communities. The project will be followed by an exhibition and a publication in October 2014.


Public Arts and Local Civic Engagement, part of the Cultural Value programme funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

PRU, in partnership with the Bristol based Visual Arts Organisation, Situations, has been engaged with a study that assesses local community engagement in Ilfracombe with two public artworks: Nowhereisland, by Alex Hartley and Verity, by Damien Hirst. In doing so, we are using innovative visually centred and creative methodology (the Visual Matrix). The project aims both to understand the aesthetic and emotional communications between community and artwork and also to develop the Visual Matrix as a methodology that might be developed for use in evaluations by academics and practitioners in the field of public art.

Researching recovery from drug and alcohol addiction with visual methods, funded by the Richard Benjamin Trust.

This programme aims to understand how the use of visual methods, in particular the Visual Matrix and various ways of applying the method, can be applied in the understanding of the complex situations of people in their recovery from substance misuse. The methodology will be applied in different ways and with different groups at different stages of recovery and in various geographical locations.

Evaluation of The Mens’ Room

The Mens' Room provides help and support for young men who may be defined as having severe and multiple disadvantages. The research will look at engagement and attitudes to services with a particular focus on routes into engaging with the Mens’ Room. The young men who engage with The Men’s Room to be instrumental in the design and delivery of this research, which is to be explored creatively, thus fitting with the ethos of The Mens Room.

Landscapes of Helping: Exploring Low Intensity Support. Funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) as part of their Risk, Relationships and Trust funding programme. January 2013 – December 2014

This research focuses on the psycho-social dynamics of giving and receiving of ‘low intensity support’ i.e. informal acts of kindness, neighbourliness and support in everyday (non-‘helping’) settings. The research is being conducted in a semi-rural locality in the North West of England. We are exploring how helping acts and relationships are mediated and negotiated and we will identify some place-based and contextual factors which facilitate or inhibit it. We will use psycho-social frameworks and concepts to help understand issues such as trust, anxiety, fear and uncertainty and how these are mediated by individual biographies, social context and place. In turn, we will consider factors which help to nurture and cultivate ‘landscapes of helping’.

Evaluation of Addict: Portraits of Recovery

ADDICT aims to explore the processes of recovery from drug & alcohol addiction through collective enquiry and collaborative discourse between a Curator, leading Addiction Psychologist; and an International Lens Based Artist together with people at differing stages of recovery. Contemporary art as a form of engagement and dialogue within recovery, a catalyst for change and a mechanism for public discourse/dissemination will be explored.

Future Perfect :Evaluation of Public arts commissioning programme

In 2011 Bristol City Council decided to devolve a series of Section 106 funds to Neighbourhood Committees. The Future Perfect programme is a result of this decision and is being financed by money which has been ring-fenced for the arts. The project involves an on-going community engagement programme. The aim is to ensure that residents of Hengrove and Stockwood have the information and opportunities they need to decide what kind of public art they want in the ward, and have a say in how the money is spent.

Past Projects

2011-2015 System level recovery processes for substance misusers in Lancashire: Developing an Evidence Base for Recovery Oriented Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services (Economic and Social Research Council and Technology Strategy Board. £220,000)

2012-4 Cultural Attendance and Public Mental Health, (PI, with Alastair Roy Co-I, £18,500 Manchester MBC)

2012-2013 New Media and Street Drinking (PI, with Alastair Roy £34,000 AHRC)

2011-2013 Imove/Cultural Olympiad programme evaluation (PI, with Alastair Roy (Co-I) (lead field researcher), Sue Hacking (Co-I) and Julian Manley (Co-I) £45,000 Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK)

2013 Surviving in Manchester: Narratives on Movement from the Men’s Room ( Co-I with Alastair Roy (PI) Lankelly Chase Foundation

2013 Views of recovery Oriented Practice among Staff at INSPIRE North Lancashire, (with Alastair Roy (PI) £9900 CRI)

2013 Pilot for Mondragon Cooperative Culture Study (£2000 funded visit with Julian Manley, Otalora Training Institute)

2012 Creating Cultural Citizenship. (UCLan co-ordinator £15,000 Connected Communities consortium development grant AHRC)

2012 Literature Review: Community Arts Evaluations (Co-I with Alastair Roy (PI) and Julian Manley (Co-I), 4000€ Arts Council Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, Create Ireland)

2011 It’s a Goal, Football and Mental Health Evaluation, (with Helen Spandler (PI) and Alastair Roy Co-I, 25,000 North West Health Development

2011 Evaluation of Healthy Spaces Programme (Co-I with Alastair Roy (PI) and Julian Manley, £6000 Arts Council England)

2010 – 2011 Socially Engaged Arts: methodologies for the study of practice (PI with Alastair Roy (Co-I), £45,000 Gulbenkian Foundation)

2009-2011 New Model Arts Institutions and Public Engagement. (PI, with Alastair Roy (Co-I and R. Little (Co-I) £65,537 Arts Council England and Northern Rock Foundation)

2009-2011 Who Cares? Museums, Health and Well-being. Research in the Outreach programme of North West Renaissance in the Regions consortium (PI, with A. Farrier (Co-I) £57,000 Museums and Libraries Association and Manchester MBC)

2010 Help Direct: evaluation of health and wellbeing initiative in Lancashire (with Alastair Roy (PI), Lancashire County Council £16,000)

2010, Involving Service Users in Probation, (with Alastair Roy (PI), £7500, Lancashire and Rutland Probation)

2010 Exploring the Service Needs, Experiences and Assets of Newly Arrived Refugee and Asylum Seekers (with Alastair Roy (PI) £18,750 Trafford Council)

2009 Part of the Picture UK evidence base of substance use and misuse amongst Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Communities in England (with Alastair Roy, £9,254, Big Lottery

2009 Youth Vandalism and Related Crime in Lancashire (PI, £5000 Lancashire Constabulary)

2009 Well-being on Prescription, (collaboration with with Healthy Settings Unit, £10,000 Ashton, Leigh and Wigan PCT)

2009-2012 Target Wellbeing: Qualitative component of study led by North West Public Health Observatory, Liverpool John Moors, (collaboration with Healthy Settings Unit, £56,000 Big Lottery Fund)

2010 Psychosocial research into teaching practice. (PI, with A. Farrier (Co-I)£8754 UCLan Research Resource Enhancement Scheme)

2010 Youth knife crime in Lancashire: pilot for assessment of specific local factors. (PI, with R. Little (Co-I) £8000 Crime Solutions and Lancashire Constabulary)

2008 ASSET as a professional assessment tool (PI, £5000 Calderdale Youth Offending Team)

2009-2010 Dance and Mental Health: evaluation of a programme in a secure mental health facility. (PI, with R. Little (Co-I) £10,000 Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust)

2007-2010 Evaluation of University College Hospital Arts Programme. (PI, with R. Little (Co-I) £20,000 Arts Council England and UCLH Foundation Trust)

2007 Arts and Inclusion: storytelling and community cohesion. (PI, £6700 Heritage Lottery)

2007-8 Creative Interventions in Restorative Youth Justice: comparative evaluation of visual, digital performance and music based interventions. (PI, with A. Farrier (Co-I) and K. Poursandou (Co-I) £68,579 HEFCE and NWRDB pan-university KTP Regeneration: making a difference)

2007-8 Engaging Communities through the arts: innovative evaluation through user discourse. (PI and collaboration with Charles Quick, £80,000 HEFCE and with A. Farrier (Co-I) and K. Poursandou (Co-I), NWRDB pan-University KTP (Regeneration: making a difference)

2008 Dissemination lead for Crime Strand of HEFCE and NWRDB pan-University KTP (PI, with A. Farrier (Co-I) and K. Poursandou (Co-I), £7000 Regeneration: making a difference)

2006 Evaluation of story-telling and creative writing workshop with young people at risk of offending. (PI, with R. Little (Co-I) £6000 Calderdale YOT)

2005-6 Research and Evaluation of Creative Writing Project in Restorative Youth Justice with Young Offenders, (PI, with A. Farrier (Co-I) and K. Poursandou (Co-I)£12,000 Crime Solutions)

2006 Biographical Narrative Case Studies with young offenders subject to arts based interventions: pilot for longitudinal study (PI, £10,000 NWRDB Crime solutions £2000 Calderdale YOT)

2005-8 Parenting support for under-fives in arts-based community setting. Evaluation of Children’s Centre. (PI, with S, Buckner (Co-I) and K. Poursanidou (Co-I) £6000 HEFCE research capability funding)

2007-2009 ESRC Seminar Funded Seminar Series on Practitioner Research and Practice Near Methods. (Collaboration with S. Briggs Tavistock Clinic/UEL £15,000 ESRC)

2002-2005 Bromley by Bow Research and Evaluation Project (PI, with Co-I’s: P. Chamberlayne, S. Buckner and T. Wengraf £200,000 Dunhill Medical Trust)