Dr Melanie Boyce

Senior Research Fellow

Faculty:Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education

Department:School of Education & Social Care

Location: Chelmsford

Areas of Expertise: Social Work and Social Policy

Melanie Boyce is a senior research fellow in the faculty with an interest and expertise in the area of peer support for marginalised groups and communities.

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Melanie joined the School of Education and Social Care in 2004 as a research assistant where she worked on a number of nationally funded projects in the area of mental health and social inclusion. From this she developed her interest in the value of reciprocal peer support in groups and communities that are often marginalized. Since then she has undertaken a number of collaborative funded projects in the area of peer support and self-help.

Closely aligned to her research interests Melanie’s methodological experience is grounded within participatory and collaborative forms of inquiry.

Research interests

  • Peer support
  • Self-help groups
  • Self-harm
  • Participatory research
  • Feminist research 

Melanie’s research experience and interest is in peer support for groups and communities who are often marginalised on the grounds of condition, experience and/or identity. Her research, in collaboration with colleagues, has explored the unique features, benefits and challenges involved in peers supporting one another, primarily in the area of mental health. In her PhD, which examined the role of self-harm peer support groups, the notions of risk, trust and safe space were found to be key areas in the development of such groups. Underpinning her research is a commitment to the principles of participatory and feminist inquiry.


  • PhD, Anglia Ruskin University
  • MSc Social Research Methods, London South Bank University
  • BA Hons Sociology, The University of Sheffield
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching, Anglia Ruskin University

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Member of the Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN)
  • Member of Social Research Association (SRA)
  • Member of the Faculty’s Participatory Research Group (core member).

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Engagement Strategy for a Women’s Refuge with Colchester & Tendring Women’s Refuge. Team: Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M., O’Brien, N. (2014-15). Funder: Essex Police and Crime Commission. £19,486. Lead Researcher.

Effective support for self-help / mutual aid groups (ESTEEM). Team: Munn-Giddings, C, Avis, M., Collis, S. and Boyce, M., Chaudhary, S. & Seebohm, P. (2010-14). Funder: Big Lottery. £264,866. Lead Researcher.

Caregiver’s perceptions of the value of the arts in therapeutic and clinical interventions. Team: Bungay, H., Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M. & Wilson, C. (2014). Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council. £23,813.

Training & Supporting Older People as Researchers. Team: Munn-Giddings, C., McVicar, A., Boyce, M. & O’Brien, N. (2009-12). Funder: Essex County Council. £66,000.

Evaluation of a pilot employment support programme. Team: Boyce, M. & Pittam, G. (2009). Funder: Remploy. £17,500. Principal Investigator.

Briefing paper on supporting people with mental health problems to stay in employment. Boyce, M. (2008). Funder: Restore. £2,500. Principal Investigator.

The Innovatory Features of User Run Organisations. Team: Munn-Giddings, C., Smith, L., Boyce, M. & Wright, S. (2006-8). Funder: Mental Health Foundation £50,000. Lead Researcher.

Social inclusion through supported employment for people with mental illness (SESAMI). Team: Secker, J., Schneider, J., Floyd, M., Boyce, M., Slade, J. & Johnson, R. (2004-6). Funder: European Social Fund. Researcher.

Selected recent publications

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Peer reviewed papers:

Munn-Giddings, C., McVicar, A., Boyce, M. & O’Brien, N. (2016). Learning from older citizens’ research groups. Educational Gerontology, 42(1), 58-69.

Wilson, C., Bungay, H., Munn-Giddings, C. & Boyce, M. (2016). Healthcare professionals’ perceptions of the value and impact of the arts in healthcare settings: A critical review of the literature. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 56, 90-101.

Boyce, M. Seebohm, P., Chaudhary, S., Munn-Giddings, C. & Avis, M. (2014) Use of social media by self-help/mutual aid groups. Groupwork, 24(2), 26-44.

Seebohm, P., Chaudhary, S., Boyce, M., Elkan, R., Avis, M., Munn-Giddings, C. (2013) The contribution of self-help/mutual aid groups to mental well-being. Health & Social Care in the Community 21(4), 391:401.

Visram, N., Roberts, A., Seebohm, P., Boyce, M. & Chaudhary, S. (2012) The role of self-help groups in promoting well-being: experiences from a cancer group. Mental Health & Social Inclusion, 16(3), 139:416.

Boyce, M., Munn-Giddings, C., Smith, L. & Campbell, S. (2010) Innovatory features and challenges facing mental health user led organisations. Mental Health Review, 15(2), 34-42.

Pittam, G., Boyce, M., Secker, J., Lockett, H. & Samele, C. (2010) Employment advice in primary care: a realistic evaluation. Health & Social Care in the Community, 18(6), 598-606.

Boyce, M., O’Brien, N., Munn-Giddings, C. & McVicar, A. (2009) How Does the Rhetoric of ‘User Participation’ in Research Apply to Older People? Research, Policy & Planning, 27(1), 55-63.

Munn-Giddings, C & McVicar, A., Boyce, M., O’Brien. N., (2009). Older People as Researchers – WhyNot?. Working with Older People, 13 (4), pp 16-19.

Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M., Smith, L & Campbell, S., (2009). The Innovative Role of User Led Organisations. A life in the Day, 13 (3), pp. 14-20.

Selected reports:

Bungay, H., Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M. & Wilson, C. (2015). The value of the arts in therapeutic and clinical interventions: A critical review of the literature. Anglia Ruskin University.

Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M. & O’Brien, N. (2015) Colchester & Tendring Women’s Refuge: Service User Engagement Strategy Final Report. Anglia Ruskin University.

Boyce, M., Munn-Giddings, C. & O’Brien, N. (2014) Service User Involvement in Women’s Refuges: A Scoping Review. Anglia Ruskin University.

Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M., Seebohm, P., Avis, M. & Chaudhary, S., Collis, S. & Bell, C. (2013) Effective Support for Self-Help / Mutual Aid Groups: Final Report Key Findings. Available at:


ESTEEM (2013) Putting Self Help into Practice: A guide to working with self-help groups for practitioners. Available at: http://self-help.absolute-staging.co.uk/src/trunk/images/PDFs/Esteem_guide_FINAL_FINAL_lowres.pdf

Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M., Seebohm, P., Avis, M. & Chaudhary, S., Collis, S. & Bell, C. (2013) Effective Support for Self-Help / Mutual Aid Groups: Stage 2 Report. Available at: http://self-help.absolute-staging.co.uk/src/trunk/images/PDFs/interim_report_stage_2.pdf

Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M., Seebohm, P., Avis, M. & Chaudhary, S., Collis, S. & Bell, C. (2011) Effective Support for Self-Help / Mutual Aid Groups: Stage 1 Interim Report. Available at: http://self-help.absolute-staging.co.uk/src/trunk/images/PDFs/interim_report_stage_1.pdf

Recent presentations and conferences

Munn-Giddings, C. & Boyce, M. Engaging Community Groups and Practitioners in Participatory Research: Reflections from the ESTEEM project, paper presented at Collaborative Action Research Network: Staying Critical. Tromso, Norway 7-9th November, 2013.

Munn-Giddings, C. & Boyce, M. Hidden Resource: The potential of self-help groups to contribute to health care delivery, policy and practice, paper presented at Joint Congress of ESHMS & DGMS: Health Inequalities Over the Life Course. Hannover, Germany 30th August to 1st September, 2012.

Boyce, M. ‘It’s a safe space’ – Unique role of self-harm peer led groups. Guest Speaker Presentation. Trinity College, Dublin Everybody Hurts Sometimes. Dublin, Ireland 20th March 2012.