What Makes an Economy Good?

The latest in I4P’s ‘Good Society’ public seminar series took place on 30th April 2019 where guest speaker Neil McInroy led an inspirational conversation on ‘What Makes an Economy Good?

Neil is the CEO of the independent think tank, CLES, and one of I4P’s Visiting Fellows. Neil was a speaker at the Good Society event that launched this seminar series so it was a pleasure to be able to welcome him back to Edge Hill University. The seminar was well attended by a range of local councillors and residents as well as by academic staff from the university.

The seminar was built around Antonio Gramsci’s words which seem more relevant than ever in this era of global crisis: ‘…the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.’ We are living in the interregnum, Neil argued, in a world where 10 people own the same wealth as 50% of the rest of the population. Such incredible inequality is accompanied by environmental uncertainty and fears for the future of the planet.

Despite this dire state of affairs, the evening had a very optimistic tone as Neil set out the ways that power is shifting back to the people through social movements such as Extinction Rebellion and the new municipalism (which is also embraced by the Labour government). He also stressed that an economy is a social construct, not a science, and this means that we can shape it in any way that we choose. This led us to think about the possibilities for a more just economy that could quite possibly soon be born.

The community wealth building work that CLES has been involved in for some years is currently gaining a lot of traction. This gives consideration to our purchasing powers: we can make – and indeed are making – more relational choices about how we spend our money. Whilst this is important on an individual level, it becomes yet more potentially transformative if anchor institutions such as universities and hospitals re-think their strategies for purchasing goods and services. The local community needs to be prioritised in these decisions in order that wealth is directed back into the local economy. We also need  to concentrate on building co-operatives and mutually owned businesses to achieve a more plural ownership of this economy.

CLES has produced a range of publications on these issues which are freely available to download here.

Dr Victoria Foster is a Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences and I4P Associate Director (External Networking) here at Edge Hill University.

Update on CREATE Network, Spring 2019

CREATE is an interdisciplinary research network that was launched under the support of I4P in March 2018. The network has become a vibrant entity, drawing in participation from across the university.  All disciplines have been represented at its meetings.  Although initially formed by Dr Mary McAteer, she has now been joined by Dr Claire Hawkins, as co-lead for the network.

One of the key principles underpinning our network is the concept of ‘participatory’, how it is enacted, and how it is enabled.  The first meeting of the year, held on 25th January, thus focused on Making research genuinely participative.

Two members of staff (Mike Stoddart, Faculty of Education, and Paul Simpson, Faculty of Health and Social Care) gave presentations, which were followed by an opportunity for dialogue and discussion.  It was felt by all participants, that both presenters, and their own ongoing work, have strong resonances with the aims and principles of this new network and we see opportunities for ongoing collaboration.

Mike’s presentation, based on his work with the university Action for Refugees network, presented ways in which narratives from both refugees, and from researchers, combine in creating new and shared understandings which help people live and work together.  Drawing from his own life-history, and weaving it into that of members of the immigrant community in Liverpool, he provided an excellent insight into the mutually respectful and beneficial relationships which can occur when research is with, rather than on, participants.

Paul’s work explored the ways in which a photovoice methodology enables people who may feel disenfranchised, find a reflective and reflexive voice which may not have been evident from visual methodologies alone.  Powerful narratives of ‘what matters’ included issues of; mental health recuperation, engaged fathering, and cruelties of social security.

We will hold our next meeting in the summer term of 2019 and discuss our plans for the future which includes website development, with a focus on:

  • Providing a repository for resources and references
  • Giving profiles for members of staff so that people with similar or complementary interests can make contact and form collaborations

It is also hoped that within the year, project proposals, and funding bids will be developed through our collaborations.

Dr Mary McAteer is Senior Lecturer Professional Learning and CREATE Co-lead at Edge Hill University.

RefuAid seminar results in action for refugees

Organised by the Action for Refugees working group, and supported by I4P, the RefuAid seminar held at Edge Hill University’s Ormskirk campus on 20 March had delegates enthralled by the presentations, not least by the moving testimony given by former client Naima, who told us about her former life in Libya and the role played by RefuAid in turning her life around. RefuAid co-founder, Anna Jones, explained how the organisation provides practical support to refugees and asylum seekers in key areas of access to language support, education and employment.

Anna Jones, co-founder of RefuAid, at the Action for Refugees seminar at Edge Hill University.

The audience for the seminar included academic and support staff at EHU as well as visitors from the local community. It was particularly pleasing to welcome a number of refugees and asylum seekers on campus.

Immediately following the presentations, delegates were able to engage in discussion with both the RefuAid representatives and Action for Refugees group members. Much of this discussion concerned the practical support that delegates from our refugee community wanted from RefuAid and from Edge Hill University.

Feedback from delegates has been overwhelmingly positive with many delegates taking the time to thank the presenters personally for the seminar. One email received from a delegate since the event included the following, “I’m so pleased to be at the university and thank you for the help you have given me.”

Since the event, applications for support from RefuAid have been prepared by some delegates with the help of Action for Refugees group members. Referrals have also been made to other organisations with a view to providing expert support for individuals to gain employment. Plans for future working between RefuAid and the University are being put in place. Action for Refugees is keen that the knowledge exchanged at this event will provide a basis for a fruitful partnership with RefuAid that will reflects principles of inclusivity, equity, and social justice.

If you would like to find out more about the work of Action for Refugees, please visit the group’s blog.

Mike Stoddart is Senior Lecturer in Further Education & Training and Action for Refugees Member at Edge Hill University

Mug #CIFF19

Polish director Małgorzata Szumowska has described her film Twarz/Mug (2018) as a ‘fairy tale for adults’, a provocatively beguiling definition of the Jury Grand Prix winner at Berlin this year. Irrespective of whether the audience might agree with that description of the film they watched, it was apposite on the closing night of the 2019 iteration of Chester’s International Film Festival on 20 March in the city’s charming Storyhouse, which commenced with the audience awarding the Best Animation prize to Tatiana Kublitskaya’s Pilipka (2012), a delightful fairy tale from Belarus.

The main feature presented a stark contrast, recounting the story of Jacek, a young heavy metalhead construction worker living in a remote Polish community riddled with narrow-minded attitudes towards outsiders, a tendency towards bawdy, expletive-filled, politically incorrect jokes and internecine squabbling over inheritances. Jacek dotes on his girlfriend, Dagmara, and dreams of relocating to London, despite the fact, as his brother-in-law bluntly points out, that the UK no longer wants any more foreigners, a view he fully endorses.

The protagonist is helping to construct a monumental statue of Christ, which the local Catholic priest is delighted will surpass the equivalent in Rio de Janiero, but after he suffers a serious accident Jacek’s life turns about face, literally. For Jacek becomes Poland’s first recipient of a face transplant, leaving him hideously disfigured and unable to speak properly. The once impish, good-looking young man is shunned by the community, treated as an outsider, a monster, including by Dagmara. His sister is the only person to stand by him.

The human body is something of a leitmotif through Szumowska’s oeuvre. Here the possible metaphorical interpretations of the face are left as open to the audience as the ending, when Jacek finally leaves, gazing up at the statue’s face, which appears to be averted from the village over which it towers. Ashamed by the prejudices of the village? Or the hubris of the Catholic Church?

The film’s relevance to a Europe troubled by a rise in xenophobia is axiomatic. Nonetheless, the film’s wickedly infectious vein of dark, absurdist humour, another feature of Szumowska’s work, lifts what might otherwise have been a rather downbeat, maudlin tale. The film opens with a hilariously surreal Black Friday-style event where the shoppers have to fight for goods in their underwear, and the variegated tone is thus set for more laughter than one might expect in such a disturbing tale. Mateusz Kosciukiewicz excels in the lead role, heart-rending at one moment, irreverent the next, making Jacek sympathetic, but not without his flaws.

Mug is the type of film that provokes reactions, and divides opinions; and that’s as it should be…

Prof Owen Evans is Professor in Film at Edge Hill University.

The Chester International Film Festival
09-20 March 2019, at Storyhouse, Chester
Curated by the I4P Director, Prof Jo Crotty, the annual Chester International Film Festival offers a remarkable selection of films that share stories and experiences from around the world. Three of this year’s films will be introduced by EHU academics, Prof Owen Evans (Mug), Prof Claire Parkinson (Dogman) and Dr Andrea Wright (Waru). #CIFF19


It was a wet and blustery afternoon in Chester on Sunday. Despite the weather, a good crowd made their way to the fantastic Storyhouse in the town centre for a screening of Dogman (2018). Included as part of the Chester International Film Festival screening programme, I was delighted to be invited by the festival curator, Professor Jo Crotty, to introduce the film in such a splendid cinema space.

Directed by Matteo Garrone, Dogman is the story of a man who is a dog groomer by day and a drug dealer by night. Set against the decaying backdrop of a desolate Southern Italian seaside resort, Dogman portrays the brutality of macho hierarchies reimagined as pack mentality. This is a film about men and dogs. Characters bark, bite, and scurry away with their metaphoric tails between their legs.

The setting is so harsh and crumbling, inside and out, that the idea of a dog grooming business succeeding at times seems bizarre. To prop up his income, Marcello deals coke and, in his spare time, attends shows where he preens and prepares poodles for exhibition.

Dogs feature prominently within this film although it is only the main protagonist Marcello, who we see having any kind of meaningful interaction with the canine cast of this film. These relationships between Marcello and the dogs function as metaphors for his relationships with humans. We are early in the film led to understand the degree and extent of Marcello’s compassion through his interactions with the canines. In his moments of care for the smaller dogs, we find the parallels with the relationship between Marcello and his daughter, Alida.

The core relationship of masculine submission and domination is between Marcello and Simone, a violent tough-guy. These scenes replay emotionally and visually Marcello’s attempts to control, cajole and tame the dogs he grooms and cares for.

Some of the most harrowing and disturbing scenes in this film take place away from the sight of other humans but we are made aware at every turn that the dogs, and we the viewers, are watching the scenes of humanity and inhumanity that unfold on-screen. Indeed, the close-up shots that open and close this film ask us to contemplate on the murky boundary where humanity and animality begin and end.

Prof Claire Parkinson Professor of Film, TV and Digital Media and Co-Director Centre for Human Animal Studies (CfHAS)
at Edge Hill University.

The Chester International Film Festival
09-20 March 2019, at Storyhouse, Chester
Curated by the I4P Director, Prof Jo Crotty, the annual Chester International Film Festival offers a remarkable selection of films that share stories and experiences from around the world. Three of this year’s films will be introduced by EHU academics, Prof Owen Evans (Mug), Prof Claire Parkinson (Dogman) and Dr Andrea Wright (Waru). #CIFF19

Waru #CIFF19

It was a pleasure to be invited to speak at the 2019 Chester International Film Festival hosted at the impressive Storyhouse arts venue, and it was a particular honour to be able to introduce important examples of contemporary Aotearoa New Zealand cinema.

The opening film was the imaginative and beautifully animated short Trap. It focuses on a young, adopted, girl struggling to adapt to her new home, and captures the sense of entrapment felt by all the characters. A nice little twist offers them all a release.

The main feature, Waru, a realist portmanteau drama directed by eight women, takes the death of the titular child, Waru (Maori for eight), as its central subject. According to the producers, Kerry Warkia and Keil McNaughton, they also issued an additional challenge to their filmmakers: each segment must have a female Maori lead and had to be shot in one, single 10-minute take.

The result is powerful, thought-provoking and uncompromising. The intimacy of the single-shot segments as they follow eight different women in the aftermath of the tragedy draws the audience into a very private world of grief, anger, culpability, hopelessness and pain. Each of the stories takes a different perspective, but all have a refreshingly matter-of-fact approach that does not shy away from the drama of real life and the impact of bereavement.

I was particularly struck by two of the stories. Casey Kaa’s segment feature’s Waru’s teacher, Anahera (Roimata Fox), and is skilfully infused with tension and an overwhelming sense of guilt. It opens with a poignant conversation between the teacher and some of the young pupils as one of them tries to reserve a seat for Waru. Anahera, grappling with her own accountability, is overcome by the situation and leaves the classroom. Her life is further complicated by an affair she is having with one of the other staff. A fumbled encounter in a small bathroom signals that she is seeking some physical relief but cannot escape her shame for having done nothing to save the child.

Chelsea Cohen’s section jolts the viewer from the realist domestic settings and the tangi (funeral) to a bright, modern television studio. It highlights the challenges faced by presenter, Kiritapu (Maria Walker), who is confronted by casual racism from the make-up department who don’t have an appropriate foundation for her skin tone, to overt discrimination from the obnoxious ‘star’ anchor-man, Mike (Jonny Brugh). Kiritapu‘s on-air outburst against Mike’s dismissal of the child’s death a ‘Maori problem’, is an unambiguous challenge to everyone to take responsibility. The safety of children is all our responsibility and is not something that belongs to one community.

The film does not provide a neat and coherent narrative, but the fragmented style adds to its impact. We are left wanting to know ‘what happens next?’. Producer Warkia has noted that it was a project “born out of heartache, love and passion to protect our children”, but, significantly, “it was created with a desire to challenge perceptions and to start conversations.” It certainly succeeds.

Dr Andrea Wright, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies and Senior SOLSTICE Fellowship Lead at Edge Hill University.

The Chester International Film Festival
09-20 March 2019, at Storyhouse, Chester
Curated by the I4P Director, Prof Jo Crotty, the annual Chester International Film Festival offers a remarkable selection of films that share stories and experiences from around the world. Three of this year’s films will be introduced by EHU academics, Prof Owen Evans (Mug), Prof Claire Parkinson (Dogman) and Dr Andrea Wright (Waru). #CIFF19

Migration Working Group – North West Seminar Series 2018/19

Migration Working Group-North West (MWG-NW) brings together academics, organisations and practitioners working on migration who are either based in the North West of the UK or researching migration in this region.  In collaboration with I4P, the Migration Working Group – North West successfully hosted two seminars in the autumn semester.

19th October 2018 Inaugural Talk Prof Adrian Favell (University of Leeds),  ‘From Political Economy to Political Demography: Beyond Methodological Nationalism’.  In this seminar, Prof Adrian Favell talked about key issues in moving beyond conventional discussions of the political economy of international migration. He also explained the relevance of different paradigms such as the Marxist (i.e. global capitalist governance), Foucauldian (i.e., governmentality, biopower) and Liberal (i.e. institutionalist) in political economy. Furthermore, Prof Adrian Favell expressed how a more developed empirical agenda speaking to debates on global inequalities and development might be conceived.

15th November 2018 Dr Giovanna Fassetta (University of Glasgow) ‘Online Arabic from Palestine and Linguistic Hospitality’.  Dr Giovanna Fassetta discussed the process of online collaboration to design an Online Arabic language course. The project was funded by the AHRC under their GCRF scheme and resulted in the Online Arabic from Palestine language course. The international and multilingual project was based in the School of Education, University of Glasgow (UK) and in the Gaza Strip (Palestine). Furthermore, she also presented about her new project that aims to link the Online Arabic from Palestine course and the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy for 2018-2020, which has recently been launched by the Scottish Government. The new project will discuss how ‘linguistic hospitality’ can be a way to welcome refugees and thus effectively facilitate integration as a two-way process.

The next MWG-NW event, sponsored by I4P, will be on 7th February 2019:
‘Language, Citizenship and Postcolonial Languaging’ with Prof Anne-Marie Fortier (Lancaster University). The talk will focus on language requirements for immigrant seeking permanent residency or citizenship, and how race and language are deeply connected through the entanglement of regimes of seeing with regimes of hearing.

Zana Vathi is Director of the MWG-NW and Reader in Social Sciences here at Edge Hill University.

Growing up in Afghanistan – Guy Smallman

Looking at the news, we see every day that displaced peoples and refugees are continuing to be propelled by conflict within and across national borders.  This can mean that many individuals are unable to access basic services, including education, but it can be difficult for those of us in the West to always connect with such experiences in a meaningful way.

So, the Faculty of Education at Edge Hill University invited the independent photo journalist Guy Smallman to talk about his work to complement the ten-day exhibition of his work that was on display in Hale Hall during September and October 2018, with the support of I4P.

His experiences of working extensively in Afghanistan over the past decade and more recently in Syria, Southern Europe and Calais, means he provided a first hand and impactful account of the people he has met, that goes beyond the newspaper headlines.

On Thursday 4th October Mr Smallman discussed the images in the exhibition and a range of supplementary photographs, explaining some of the stories attached to them.  This event was very informative as well as being incredibly moving.  Mr Smallman described in detail his experiences of working with displaced children living in camps across Afghanistan and particularly in Kabul.  Despite some of the harrowing aspects of the events he offered, there were also reasons for hope, as he described the positive aspects of children being able to access education within the camps and becoming sporting heroes as members of Afghan Olympic team and the national wrestling team.

Guy Smallman is a self-taught, London based photojournalist. He has worked all over the world in many different countries and environments specializing in social issues like human rights and poverty and his wide range of work can be viewed online.

Dr Clare Woolhouse is a Reader in the Faculty of Education at Edge Hill University.

What makes a Good Childhood?

A public discussion event hosted by I4P on 28th August 2018 which asked, ‘What makes a Good Childhood?

This event was a continuation of the ‘What Makes A Good Society’ series which began in June 2017 when we invited participants to discuss how to influence policy-makers and decision-makers, and to consider what the necessary ingredients for a ‘good society’ are. Since then we have held a follow-up session on the ‘Good Society’ and a subsequent one on ‘What Makes A Good University?’ All the events to date have been attended by a lively mix of local people, professionals and academics.

‘What Makes a Good Childhood?’ was facilitated by Dr Gideon Calder (Swansea University) who is a member of I4P’s External Advisory Group. He began the session by posing a challenge. The group was given the following list of features which might be regarded as being crucial to a ‘good childhood’:

  • A good family life
  • Good mental health
  • A good education
  • Good physical health
  • A good environment

Gideon asked whether we could rank them in order of importance. This provoked an interesting debate as we considered the difficulty of the task. One participant questioned the concept of ‘good’ and what that actually means and how it can be measured. This led us to talking about the different lenses that varying professionals view childhood through. Another participant pointed out that the features listed are not mutually exclusive and it is not uncommon for one to feed into another.

Another thought-provoking philosophical exercise involved us considering whether (as inspired by Patrick Tomlin’s 2016 paper) we take a ‘sapling view’ or a ‘caterpillar view’ of childhood. The first understands children to be a smaller (weedier!) version of adults and adulthood is a necessary stage to go through on the way to becoming a complete person. The caterpillar view, however, sees children as being qualitatively different from adults in the same way that a caterpillar is a quite different creature from a butterfly. This distinction has profound implications for how we might treat children. For instance, what is fair for ‘butterfly’ children could look very different from what is fair for adults. Gideon (playfully) suggested that from the butterfly perspective, a childhood filled with fun and junk food might be much more preferable to one filled with intensive schooling and formative extra-curricular activities which are designed to ‘pay off’ in later life.

A number of the participants in the session felt that they would like more time to reflect upon and discuss these ideas. All are invited to Tom Cockburn’s Book Launch event (more info soon) and we will have some time after that to continue the debate. Do contact us if you would like to join in.

Reference: Tomlin Patrick (2018) Saplings or Caterpillars? Trying to Understand Children’s Wellbeing. Journal of Applied Philosophy, Vol. 35, No. S1

Dr Victoria Foster is a Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences and I4P Associate Director (External Networking) here at Edge Hill University.

Dr Julia Hope: Children’s Literature about Refugees

Visiting from Goldsmiths’ University, last week Dr Julia Hope shared her wealth of experience from her PhD research and a decade as a ‘refugee teacher’, working with children from a refugee background in the classroom.  Sponsored by 4P this event took place on the 14th May.

Her paper explored the range of ways in which children’s books can support children with a refugee background to recognise themselves in fiction, as well as the opportunity for children without these experiences to develop empathy and understanding. Her examples demonstrated that even very young children can through discussion and art demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the reasons people leave, and what it might be like to come to a new classroom, a new school, a new country.

Feedback from the session was excellent. One delegate stated, ‘Excellent session –   thoroughly enjoyed it. Thankyou!’ Another, who is a trainee teacher commented, ‘We need more talks like this.’ Students and staff plan to read more of the titles Julia included in her presentation, approaching them critically, and seeking to undertake research in the area. Others reflected on the way the session would help in the classroom to work with refugee families and children.

Charlotte Hastings is Research Projects Coordinator for the Faculty of Education at Edge Hill University.

Action for Refugees Research Group

Following visits to the Calais “Jungle” by Mike Stoddart, Martin Ford and Umit Yildiz in 2016, Action for Refugees was established to coordinate the work of faculty staff on this important social justice issue.

In July 2017, I4P and the Faculty of Education supported a one day conference that brought together academics, activists and members of refugee communities to explore good practice, find out about the challenges of the field, and look to develop work that would make a tangible difference in terms of research and teaching.  Attendees praised the opportunity to meet refugees, network with colleagues and the diverse contributions from NGO and academics.

As part of this event, the Dean, Dr Lynette Turner and the Director of I4P, Professor John Diamond committed to support future collaborative work that would ensure all ITT programmes reflected refugee awareness and that the university’s facilities were available to support refugee initiatives.

Staff and students came together in June 2017 to host a group of local refugees on campus, with the support of West Lancashire CVS.

These groups worked together to learn skills in stop-motion animation, and competed in a ‘friendly’ football match using the university’s sports facilities.

The group has expanded to include colleagues across the university’s three faculties, and works collaboratively with student group ‘Global Unity’.

In October I4P supported an Action for Refugee event where Dr Melanie Baak, visiting lecturer at the Glasgow ‘GRAMNET’ refugee project, shared her research on refugee education in Scotland and Australia with a packed audience of staff and students.  In December colleagues raised over £100 to support Care4Calais, and donated sleeping bags and warm clothes for the now displaced refugees in Calais. Mike Stoddart updated the faculty on his experience visiting Calais in January 2018.

Future plans include:

  • collaborative ‘open days’ to include a focus on wellbeing and team building
  • hosting academic specialists in refugee research (funded by I4P)
  • research into the accessibility of ITT programmes on campus
  • lobbying on bursaries and scholarships available to refugee students at Edge Hill
  • working with the Arts centre to welcome refugee theatre on campus

If you would like to find out more about the work of Action for Refugees, please see the group’s blog.

Artistic Methodologies for Social Justice

One of I4P’s tentpole events at the Festival of Ideas, the Artistic Methodologies for Social Justice Symposium, took place on 1st June 2018. It was organised by Dr Victoria Foster, an Associate Director of I4P and author of Collaborative Arts-based Research for Social Justice (Routledge, 2016).

The aims of the afternoon were to explore the power of the arts to effect change through highlighting inequalities and encouraging people to see the world from different angles. Victoria opened the event by speaking about her experience of art and the subtle but profound impact this has had on her everyday life. She argued the potential of the arts to be used as a way of producing knowledge about the social world and went on to play a rap video from Measuring Humanity, a programme of research led by one of I4P’s external members, Dr Marisa de Andrade, who was unable to attend the event.

This suggested that the standard ways of measuring health and wellbeing do not capture the essence of lived experience, particularly of ‘hard to reach’ and BME communities, and that artistic approaches may be more insightful.

Dr Barnaby King spoke about an arts-based research project that he and Victoria are working on at a local community farm that is drawing on a variety of artistic methods including creative writing, mindful movement, photography and natural sculpture, to explore participants’ experiences of nature and growing food in ways that challenge mainstream, intensive farming methods.

This was followed by Dr Amy Bonsall’s presentation of her work on Shakespeare in Malawi. Amy, from the international theatre organisation Bilimankhwe, fascinated the audience with her tales of working on Shakespeare plays with local people and the process of translating material into Chichewa. She described how incredibly knowledgeable local young people were about Shakespeare and how the work provided a different narrative of these capable young people from the stereotypical ‘AIDS orphans’ one that is so familiar in the Western world.

Dr Katy Goldstraw, I4P’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow, discussed an AHRC project, Taking Yourselves Seriously, which explored artistic methodologies for social cohesion. She described the artist-led activities in a school and in the community that invited participants to think about their identity and the space and place where they live.

During the break, the group had a guided tour of Gergana Ganeva’s exhibition of art produced by images created by survivors of trafficking and modern slavery. She described some of the harrowing stories that lay behind the images and stressed the importance of providing an opportunity for the participants in this arts-based research project to be able to represent themselves in such personal and meaningful ways.

After the break, artist Eva Brudenell guided the symposium’s participants through an artistic activity that involved designing a manifesto and poster via a paper folding technique. She regaled the group with colourful examples of political art which provided plentiful inspiration.

Participants enthusiastically busied themselves with this creative endeavour and, in the reflective discussion that closed the symposium, discussed how they would be able to use the technique with the groups that they work with, including students and community groups. The reflective discussion incorporated insightful thoughts on power relations in research and how artistic methods might mitigate or reproduce these, depending on the motives of the protagonists. The symposium, then, raised some challenging, critical issues as well as being an enjoyable and relaxed summer afternoon.

Dr Victoria Foster is a Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences and I4P Associate Director (External Networking) here at Edge Hill University.

Merseyside Health – why is it worse than elsewhere?

In 2014 the Margaret Westhead Inquiry Panel into Health Equity in the North of England delivered their report. The Due North Report revealed that the North of England suffers from significantly lower investment in public health and poorer health outcomes compared to other English regions.

Whilst the North of England is home to about 30% of the English population, the region contains around half of the poorest neighbourhoods in England. Liverpool, in particular, is a metropolitan area in the North of England that has some of the worst health outcomes, for adults as well as children.

On the 21st May 2018 we invited three experts in public health to a round table discussion with a public audience as part of the Festival of Ideas at Edge Hill University.  This public event was hosted by the Institute for Public Policy and Professional Practice (I4P), in association with PGMI and the Faculty of Health and Social Care.

Participants were Prof David Taylor-Robinson (Professor of Public Health and Policy at University of Liverpool), Susan Forster (Director of Public Health at St Helens Council) and Andrew Woods (Lead of the Statutory Accountability Service for Merseyside CCGs).

They each gave a presentation on the main challenges of public health for both adult and children populations in the Merseyside area and then elaborated on the difficulties the region faced in improving health care outcomes.

In a question and answer with the audience, several touchpoints of agreement emerged. The first one was that local authorities had taken a significant cut in public spending over the last decade which had impacted on population health and the capacity of public services to respond adequately to the needs of patients.

The second point of agreement was around the need for long term service planning to improve health, in particular the positive effects of investing in children’s health at an early stage. Last but not least, there was a consensus that the problems had to be tackled in partnership with all relevant organisations, with services collaborating to deliver effective and timely care to patients. As local authorities and the NHS are looking towards the next decade, new solutions to the persistent health problems of the region have to be found.

Watch the discussion event here: YouTube

Dr Axel Kaehne is Reader in Health Service Research and I4P Associate Director (Operations) here at Edge Hill University.

How to Reduce Crime?

The Department of Applied Health, sponsored by the Institute for Public Policy and Professional Practice (I4P), hosted a successful public event on 24th January 2018 entitled “How is it possible to assess the effectiveness of a large-scale crime prevention policy? Some research issues and methodological challenges”.

The event was chaired and the discussion facilitated by Dr Andrew Millie, Professor of Criminology at Edge Hill University. The speakers at the event were Dr Marco Calaresu, political scientist, Assistant Professor at the University of Sassari (Italy), and Dr Moris Triventi, sociologist, Senior Assistant Professor at the University of Trento (Italy). These two scholars provided the audience with theoretical and methodological inter-disciplinary insights into the topic of crime prevention.

Dr Marco Calaresu and Dr Moris Triventi discussed how it is possible to assess the effectiveness of a large-scale crime prevention policy with an evidence-based evaluation. They assessed the impact of a large-scale security policy based on security pacts (2007-2009) on various types of crimes in Italy. They built a macro-level dataset with repeated measures for the 103 Italian provinces, covering a period spanning 2004 to 2013. They demonstrated that the results of fixed-effects panel regression models have indicated that security pacts significantly reduced thefts and micro-criminality in the cities in the largest provinces, but did not affect robberies and homicide rates.

The event wonderfully fulfilled the I4P’s values and principles of disseminating research and knowledge, along with shaping and framing policy recommendation. In their analysis, the speakers highlighted the importance of considering potential heterogeneous effects when looking at the impact of such a large-scale policy. They elaborated that security pacts were more effective in reducing both thefts and micro-criminality in the provinces with larger population size, and they argued that this could be explained by the fact that more densely populated areas and those with a higher number of cities were those which also had higher baseline crime rates before the intervention. It could be that security pacts worked particularly well in urban contexts characterized by severe problems of crime and disorder, in which a set of interventions such as those promoted by the policy have more room to be effective.

Last but not least, the event satisfied one of the four primary areas of activity of the I4P, since the invited scholars stressed limitations of the current study and scope for future directions in this area of research for faculty researchers, practitioners and professionals. A lively panel discussion led by Prof Andrew Millie’s thought-provoking comments was held at the end of the presentation. Many questions were raised stressing the importance of the implementation dosage (coverage, intensity and duration), and of the implementation theory (e.g. silent alarms to catch burglars, at the same time as publicity campaigns; geographical and functional displacement; good working relationships across partnership) for assessing the effectiveness of a large-scale crime prevention policy.

Dr Anna Bussu is a Lecturer in the Psychosocial Analysis of Offending Behaviour at Edge Hill University.

Health and Wellbeing Needs of Young People in the Justice System

A Peer Power event was held by the Institute for Public Policy and Professional Practice (I4P), in association with the Faculty of Health and Social Care, on 13th March 2018.  Along with Anne-Marie Douglas, founder & CEO of Peer Power, guest speakers included Youth Engagement Co-ordinator, Ebi Lyere and Peer Leader, Seth Khan.

In an engaging and interactive session, the speakers discussed their work influencing system change. Peer Power specialise in empathy development, co-production and social and emotional learning for practitioners and young people. They argued that youth justice and children’s services should prioritise building empathic relationships – creating a sense of mutual respect, trust and belonging.

In addition to creating an emotionally safe workforce, Peer Power advocated shared decision-making and children’s voices being listened to and acted upon throughout systems. Indeed, meaningful participation – where children influence change and shape decision-making processes – has the potential to be an empowering and life-changing experience!

Please visit the Peer Power website which has lots of useful resources and information.

Sean Creaney is a Lecturer, Applied Health & Social Care at Edge Hill University.

Related Links:
Edge Hill University news story about the Peer Power event:
Leading youth charity calls for greater focus on empathic relationships

Upcoming talk at Edge Hill University with Voice for Children happening 18th May 2018:
Raising the Voice of Children in the Youth Justice System

What Makes a Good University?

A public discussion event hosted by I4P on 28th March 2018 which asked, ‘What makes a Good University?’

This event was a follow up to the ‘What Makes A Good Society’ sessions which took place in October and June 2017, where we invited participants to discuss how to influence policy-makers and decision-makers, and what the necessary ingredients for a ‘good society’ are.

The discussion was facilitated by Professor John Diamond, Director of I4P. He began by introducing the role of universities as creating spaces for critical thinkers and set the conversation within the history of universities over the last century. The discussion was informal and took place in smaller groups that then fedback to the wider group.

The importance of the transformative role of universities was discussed. Within a university there can be multiple spheres of activity; this can create a tension where different things are going on within same geographical space. How an individual tries to make sense of that might depend on where they are politicly.

The narrowness of universities’ curricula was discussed and this was linked to fees and the importance of the instrumentalist role of universities. Universities are responding to the economic needs of businesses (producing skilled workers) and the economic needs of students (in order that they can work to repay their fees).

The role of the university was also discussed as providing space to develop ourselves as critical thinkers. The discussion questioned whether this should happen by creating a third sphere of university in a discussion session like this one or whether this critical thinking space should be intertwined within courses – in that by building knowledge we automatically build critical thinking.

The discussion was vibrant and comprised of diverse options which generated enthusiastic discussion. The feedback after the session was positive with attendees appreciating the opportunity to debate and network within Edge Hill University and with community members.

Dr Katy Goldstraw is the I4P Post Doctorate Research Fellow here at Edge Hill University.

Food Poverty: Changing the Story

I4P in collaboration with the Faculty of Health and Social Care and Can Cook hosted a very successful public event on 14th March 2018 to discuss the urgent need to address food poverty in the UK. One hundred and eighteen delegates from a range of organisations including higher education institutes; local councils; housing associations; food banks and other food aid services attended the event to listen to, and contribute to discussions on how to avoid the institutionalisation of food aid in the UK.

Speakers at the event included Rosie Oglesby, Director of Feeding Britain who described the work undertaken by all sectors of society to tackle food poverty. Professor Martin Caraher, Professor of Health and Food Policy at UCL discussed the vital need to change policy in the UK to overcome the barriers that result in food poverty. Susannah Brooks, Operations Manager of the Trussel Trust, outlined the scale of food poverty in the UK and Robbie Davison, CEO of Can Cook presented an innovative and dynamic strategy to change the narrative of food poverty in the UK.

A lively panel discussion held at the end of the guest talks highlighted the resolve of all those involved in every facet of food poverty to work together to change the story of food poverty in the UK.

Dr Kathleen Mooney is a Senior Lecturer, Applied Health & Social Care at Edge Hill University.

Statutory Child and Family Social Work

I4P co-sponsored a very successful public event on the direction of statutory child and family social work on 27th February 2018.

Almost 200 people booked to hear Dr Ray Jones (Kingston and St George’s University London, and recent recipient of Outstanding Contribution to Social Work award 2017) outline and critique some of the recent trends in statutory child and family social work practice and the direction of and rationale for reform. Fearless as always, Dr Jones delivered a thought-provoking and timely analysis of some of the key opportunities and threats facing social work with children and families and their implications for social work organisations, practitioners and education.

Dr Jones was joined at the podium by Tracy Overs (Principal Social Worker) and Anna Howard (Social Worker) who further elucidated the challenges facing statutory social work by drawing on their experience of front line local authority practice, reminding us all of the potential of social work to make a difference and the value of effective practice in protecting children and supporting families.

The event drew interest from across the north of England and the audience of social workers, social work managers, social work student, social work academics and others, working both in statutory and voluntary services bore testament to the value of bringing the worlds of practice and academia together to contribute to and be supported by each other in thinking about and responding to complex and demanding areas of professional practice. A lively discussion followed the presentations that ended only when the audience faced the risk of being locked in for the night.

Nigel Kelleher is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Work at Edge Hill University.

New Critical Research Network

The first meeting of this proposed new network was convened, with the support of I4P, on 21st March 2018. Over 30 people from across all three faculties attended; a number of people also were interested in the event, but not available for the meeting. People at all stages in their research were represented, from GTAs/PGRs to professors.

It was clear that there was significant interest in coming together in a new network, focusing on the values, purposes and methodological issues in our research, despite widely varying substantive areas of expertise. Much of the discussion focused on:

  • Principles/visions/aims for such a network
  • Operation of the network
  • Naming of the network

The discussion about principles took most of the time, as people felt it was a key defining feature of the proposed new network.  There was general agreement that the network should embrace research that:

  • Is emancipatory
  • Is interdisciplinary
  • Promotes community engagement and real-world issues, linking scholarship to reality
  • Is democratic, and challenges the status quo
  • Is pluralistic
  • Is humanistic

There was a clear will for the Network to be properly convened, under the auspices of I4P. A second meeting will therefore take place on 16th May 2018. It will be held in B002 from 12.30 – 3.00, and will consider the ways in which the network operates, and the formal naming of the network by its members. Following this, we will seek to set up a website, and plan events for the year ahead.

Dr Mary McAteer is the Director of Professional Learning Programme in the Faculty of Education at Edge Hill University.

Read more about I4P Research clusters and networks

JENGbA and its fight for justice

Edge Hill University and I4P were pleased to welcome Jan Cunliffe to deliver a guest lecture to staff and students about the joint enterprise principle at a recent event which was sponsored by I4P. The legal origins of this common law principle date back for centuries, but thanks to the campaigning of JENGbA, Jan explained there is some renewed hope that its use will be overturned.

Joint enterprise cases involve crimes where more than one person is judged to have taken part. In these cases, criminal liability is attributed to all of those participants in that criminal activity. This means that the current evidence rules enable those who did not strike the fatal blow or pull the trigger can still be convicted of murder.

Jan Cunliffe is a co-founder of Joint Enterprise not Guilty by Association (JENGbA), a grassroots campaign group which openly opposes ‘the might of the legal establishment.’ Part of this involves the aim to overturn the joint enterprise principle and the mandatory life sentences which have been handed down to family members of the group.

Jan spoke passionately to a room full of staff and students and shared personal experiences of the joint enterprise principle. Her son, Jordan, was one of a group of young people who were convicted of the murder of Garry Newlove in 2007. Despite being a blind 15-year-old and not actually delivering the fatal blow, Jordan was nonetheless given a life sentence for murder due to the opinion that he might have known what his friends were going to do and he didn’t try to prevent them committing the crime.

This was a timely lecture by Jan, following a ruling by the Supreme Court two years ago that the joint enterprise principle has been applied incorrectly for decades. Since this time, Jan explained that JENGbA has been instrumental in keeping the debate in the public consciousness. This resulted in a House of Commons debate in January 2018 where MPs from different parties urged the government to scrap the principle. In fact, the Minister of Justice was the only speaker who did not want to review the current application of joint enterprise.

Following a relaunch of JENGbA in November 2017, Jan is renewed is her efforts to travel the length and breadth of the country to share her experiences and raise awareness of the miscarriage of justice which is joint enterprise. It seems that the controversy over the application of this principle is not likely to go away soon.

Ben Hughes is a Graduate Teaching Assistant/PhD student in the Faculty of Health and Social Care at Edge Hill University.

Related Links:
Here is what one of our final year students, KYLE CLARK, had to say after attending this event: ‘The Broken System — United Kingdom’