Making a difference: social inclusion and social justice

Social Work and Social Policy research at Anglia Ruskin University focuses on social inclusion and social justice. We are delighted that our capacity building over the last five years has resulted in our research being rated as internationally excellent or world-leading. Our submission evidences collaborative working both internally and with national and international partners and organisations in the statutory and voluntary care sectors.

Our research examines the effectiveness of innovations in social care that are designed to promote well-being, including the role of participatory arts in enhancing the well-being of young people (Dr Hilary Bungay) and the use of volunteers to support families where child protection is a concern (Dr Jane Akister).

Importantly, we have developed a range of research methodologies that bring to the fore the voice of marginalised groups in society. This is particularly critical when working with people who may be portrayed as ‘victims’ of their experiences, for example bullying and cyberbullying where our methodology enables people with direct experience of the research issue to become participant researchers. Professors Carol Munn-Giddings and Jenny Secker, together with Niamh O-Brien, Melanie Boyce and Joanna Fox, have gained international recognition for involving people who use health and social care services in the research process. This has become a special strength of our REF submission and was commended in both 2008 and 2014.

The impact of our participatory approach to complex social and health care service delivery can be seen in our direct work with the commissioners of services where we have been able to advise as to whether or not commissioned services deliver what they are supposed to and also whether they are cost effective. Question of value for money for services commissioned from the charitable and independent sectors is vital to effective use of resources by the public sector. These questions are relevant beyond the UK and we are involved in a number of EU projects, international conferences and initiatives (for example, Dr Roxanna Anghel developing approaches to young people leaving public care in Eastern Europe).

Our research approach is relevant to all marginalised groups and there is growing international interest in our research on the welfare of migrant populations (Dr Claudia Schneider) and the integration issues faced by Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities (Dr Pauline Lane). This interest is reflected in the presentation and debate of our research in the House of Lords as well as national recognition by the Research Councils and Universities UK. Looking to the future we are developing our research with a wide range of European partners including Germany, Finland, Norway and Italy to increase the international impact of our research.