The Blog

The Relationship between Poverty, Attainment, and Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing: Making a Difference to the Lives of Children and Young People

Focusing on early adolescence, a critical stage in development, this programme looks to examine the relationship between poverty, attainment, and children’s mental health as a means of addressing the attainment gap between rich and poor.  The attainment gap is a global and complex problem, which requires international and multi-disciplinary perspectives.  It will bring together academics, policy makers, and practitioners to question: what we currently know about the problem, how we can best extend our understanding of these relationships, and how this can inform public policy and practice.  A sense of belonging to school lies at the intersection of poverty, attainment, and mental health.  Through engagement with children the programme will build children’s voices into discussion, ultimately contributing to the Scottish Attainment Challenge.

Programme Team:

Dr Joan Mowat (University of Strathclyde) – Inclusion, Children with Social, Emotional, and Behavioural Needs, Leadership for Social Justice
Dr Gale Macleod (University of Edinburgh) – Education, Young People Identified as having Disruptive Behaviour
Alastair Wilson (University of Strathclyde) – Social Mobility, Mentoring, Widening Participation
Dr Anna Beck (University of Strathclyde) – Educational Policy, Teacher Professionalism
Graham McPheat (University of Strathclyde) – Social Work and Looked After Children
Professor Stephen McKinney (University of Glasgow) – Creativity, Culture, Poverty
Dr Louise Marryat (University of Edinburgh) – Mental Health, Public Health and Policy
Lee Knifton (University of Strathclyde) – Head of the Mental Health Foundation
Marian MacLeod (Children in Scotland) – Policy Manager, Children’s Welfare
Patricia Lyon (Place2Be) – Cluster Manager, Counselling for Children
Paula Dudgeon (Glasgow City Council) – Educational Psychology
Professor John McKendrick (Glasgow Caledonian University) – Applied Human Sociology, Poverty and Inequality
Fiona McHardy (The Poverty Alliance) – Research and Information Manager
Aileen Wilson (Inverclyde Children’s Services) – Children’s Rights and Participation
Dr Gillean McCluskey (University of Edinburgh) – Multi-agency working, Pupil Voice
Sara Spencer (Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland) – Project Manager

Coproducing Justice: International Social Economy Network

The significance of employment to desistance—the cessation of offending or antisocial behaviour—is well established, yet there are multifarious obstacles to people with convictions accessing and sustaining work.  Social enterprise and cooperative structures of employment can circumnavigate some of the systemic obstacles, such as criminal records and employer discrimination.  But such structures are a rarity in the UK justice system, and their potential is largely unexplored.  Bringing together international, multi-disciplinary academic and industry leaders, this programme seeks to inform the development of social enterprise and cooperative structures of employment for people involved in the justice system.  It will bring together research, policy, and practice, which have heretofore developed separately, to forge and deepen links to form a sustainable network to address these challenges.

Programme Team:

Dr Beth Weaver (University of Strathclyde) – Desistance, Co-production, Social Cooperative and Enterprise Structures of Employment
Professor Stephen Osborne (University of Edinburgh) – Chair of International Public Management, Co-production, the Third Sector and Public Services
Dr Michael Roy (Glasgow Caledonian University) – Social Business, Social Enterprise, Health and Wellbeing
Sarah Soppitt (Northumbria University) – Criminology, Criminal Justice Practice, Desistance
Elizabeth Docherty (Glasgow Social Enterprise Network) – Director
Paul Morris (Glasgow City Council) – Development Officer and Operations Manager for Glasgow Region City Deal Employability Project
Thomas Jackson (Community Justice, Glasgow) – Head of Community Justice, Glasgow
Jayne Chappell (Social Firms Scotland) – Finance and Development Manager

Storytelling for Resilience: Communicating Systemic Approaches to Climate Change

This timely and necessary programme brings together climate change adaptation specialists from across the natural and social sciences.  It identifies two central challenges for increasing resilience to extreme events: to make complex research results more accessible and tractable for decision-makers, and to acknowledge that decision-makers include the general public as they self-organise and respond to new local challenges, in parallel with policy and practice.  To address these challenges, it proposes a novel approach: storytelling for climate change adaptation.  Using state-of-the-art storytelling training, it will bring a fresh set of communication and engagement skills to climate change researchers and practitioners.  These skills will be applied by the wider community of climate change professionals, enhancing knowledge exchange activities.  It aims to demonstrate the efficacy of storytelling in bringing about real-world impact, through application to a specific case study with a flood-prone community.

Programme Team:

Melissa Bedinger (Heriot-Watt University) – Ergonomics, Socio-technical Systems and Climate Change
Esther Carmen (University of Dundee) – Science Policy and Practice Interfaces, Community Resilience
Professor Lindsay Beevers (Heriot-Watt University) – Civil Engineering and Water Management
Ioan Fazey (University of Dundee) – Environmental Change and Human Resilience
Alanah Knibb (Freelance Illustrator) – Art, Graphic Novels and Comics, Science Communication
Julia Bentz (University of Lisbon) – Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation, and Economics
Ingrid Coninx (Wageningen University) – Climate Adaptation and Policy Implementation Gaps

Developing Confident Life Stories about Child Bereavement: Normalising and Supporting Bereavement Experiences through Storytelling and Comics

This programme will explore the impact of bereavement on young people, supporting them to construct and represent their own stories through the medium of comics.  More than 75% of young people experience the death of someone close, with the figure even higher for vulnerable children.  Given the impacts of bereavement on wellbeing, including psychological health and educational achievement, this is a crucial issue.  While recent Scottish policy emphasises developing discourse and support, a culture of silence around bereavement remains.  Comics are an ideal medium for storytelling, with the combination of image and text providing an accessible creative space for expression.  The process of creating comics helps generate confident life stories, which will be used to support professionals and carers, inform national policy on childhood bereavement, and normalise discussions of bereavement more generally.

Programme Team:

Dr Golnar Nabizadeh (University of Dundee) – Comics and Visual Literacy
Dr Susan Rasmussen (University of Strathclyde) – Health Psychology
Professor Christopher Murray (University of Dundee) – Comic Studies
Professor Divya Jindal-Snape (University of Dundee) – Chair of Education, Inclusion and Life Transitions
Dr Damon Herd (Dundee Comics Creative Space) – Autobiographical Comics and Comics Performance
Philip Vaughn (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design) – Practice and Production in Animation
Dr Sally Paul (University of Strathclyde) – Public Health, Death, Dying and Bereavement
Judith Furnival (CELCIS) – Residential Childcare, Suicide and Care Leavers
Nina Vaswani (CYCJ) – Youth Justice, Bereavement and Loss

Image: Jindal-Snape, D et al.  Fibromyalgia and Us. UniVerse, 2017.

Creative Communities: Making the Invisible Visible through Creative Expression of Mental Wellbeing in Land and Sea Communities

This innovative programme seeks to create new modes of expression to address, communicate, and share the often obscured challenges of people experiencing (or affected by) mental ill-health.  Focusing particularly on the rural areas of Scotland, from land-based to maritime communities, it will explore how to develop an increased sense of personhood and collective wellbeing in these frequently invisible communities.  It seeks to understand how the resilience of rural communities and the wellbeing of individuals can be enhanced if mental health issues are expressed, shared and addressed more widely.  Its overarching aims are to inform the Scottish Government Rural and Mental Health Policy development, and to contribute more generally to the Mental Health agenda in Scotland by reflecting the lived experience expressed by citizens.

Programme Team:

Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam (The Glasgow School of Art), Design Innovation.
Professor Chris Speed (Edinburgh College of Art), Chair of Informatics.
Professor Stewart Mercer (University of Glasgow), Chair in Primary Care Research.
Professor Sarah Skerratt (Scotland’s Rural College), Director of SRUC’s Rural Policy Centre.
Dr Jane Atterton (Scotland’s Rural College) – Rural and regional development issues, rural economies and businesses.
Dr Tara French (The Glasgow School of Art) – Psychology and Design Innovation.
Dr Mafalda Moreira (The Glasgow School of Art) – Amplified Design Mindset, human-centred and strategic design.
Dr Cheryl McGeachan (University of Glasgow) – Human Geographer, historical and cultural geographies of mental ill-health.

Learning from Loss: Fieldtrip

The Learning from Loss programme team have been hard at work, and their fieldtrip is finally here!  From the 10th to the 21st of June participants will explore a range of issues relating to climate change impacts upon the historic environment through the lens of threatened coastal heritage and vulnerable carved stone monuments. We will learn from the diverse experiences of the participants and explore different situations and alternative approaches enriched with experiences from colleagues from the USA and insights from community heritage managers and stakeholders.

You can find the full Learning from Loss Programme Itinerary here.

Housing and Ageing – Online Discussions from the First Working Group

The Housing and Ageing programme brings together academics, policy makers, service users and organisations delivering policy objectives in practice to exchange knowledge and design best practice.

Working together with Housing LIN, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and Age Scotland, the programme events focus on linking the strategic policy priorities of Housing and Ageing together with practice and service user experience.  The first of three working group events took place on 1 May 2018 in Stirling, demonstrating innovative approaches (including a serious game) and generating lively discussion; in the room and on social media.  The latter can be found below.
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