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 and social regeneration.

PRU’s work for its partners cuts across four of UCLan’s research themes:

  • Arts, Culture Heritage
  • Citizenship, Society and Justice
  • Lifelong Health and Wellbeing
  • People, Place and Environment

Core Team

Lynn Froggett

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


Dr. Alastair Roy

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

Hugh Ortega Breton

Hugh Ortega Breton

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

Alan Farrier

Alan Farrier

Research Associate, School of Community Health and Midwifery


Helen Spandler

Reader in Mental Health, School of Social Work



Amanda Taylor

Senior Lecturer, School of Social Work


Simon Rogerson

Senior Lecturer, School of Social Work

Penny Collinson

Course Leader, Senior Lecturer

Publications and Engagement

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

Froggett, Lynn, Kelly-Corless, Laura and Manley, Julian Y (2019) Feeling Real and Rehearsal for Reality: psychosocial aspects of Forum, Theatre in care settings and in prison. Journal of Psychosocial Studies, 12 (1-2). pp. 23-39.

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

Carr, S. Spandler, H. (2019). Hidden from history? A brief modern history of the psychiatric “treatment” of lesbian and bisexual women in England. The Lancet Psychiatry. 11th February 2019. 1

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

Spandler, H. Mckeown, M (2017) Exploring the case for truth and reconciliation in mental health services. Mental Health Review Journal 22.2: 83-94

Events and News

We are currently working with three ‘Creative People and Places’ arts-based projects and three national portfolio organisations, all in the north west of England and funded by Arts Council England:

The Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library (Preston)
F.A.C.T. (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) in Liverpool 
St. Helen’s Council Library Service     
Heart of Glass, St. Helens
Super Slow Way, Pennine Lancashire
LeftCoast, Blackpool and Wyre

Please follow us on Twitter for news and information about forthcoming events

Teaching and Postgraduate Study

We provide Masters and PhD supervision. Please use the contact details above if you are interested in supervision.

We provide teaching on the following modules:

Our Aims

  • 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:

Institute of Citizenship, Society and Change
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

Previous Projects

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.