Anglia Ruskin research celebrated as 'Big Ideas for the Future'

Published: 16 June 2011 at 10:53

Three groundbreaking projects are selected for leading national report

Anglia Ruskin University’s groundbreaking work on the support for self help groups, collaborative psychiatric medication management and the Forest Schools movement have been chosen as three of the most important research projects taking place in universities today.

The three projects have been included in the Big Ideas for the Future report, which is being jointly published by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Universities UK, pulling together the leading research currently taking place across UK universities.

Research from all fields, including science, social sciences, engineering, the arts and the humanities, was eligible to be included and the three projects were selected for inclusion from hundreds of submissions.  The report is narrated and backed by high-profile celebrities such as Professor Lord Robert Winston, Dr Alice Roberts and Professor Iain Stewart.

Researchers at Anglia Ruskin are producing evidence-based guidelines on how community-based practitioners can best support local self help groups.  Anglia Ruskin’s work on Effective Support for Self Help / Mutual aid groups (ESTEEM) is in collaboration with Self Help Nottingham and The University of Nottingham ESTEEM project.

The study aims to improve the quality of advice and support to UK self help groups by community practitioners through the provision of appropriate guidance and resources.  It will also support the development of resilient and resourceful self help groups in the future.

The overall management of the project is led by Sarah Collis from Self Help Nottingham.  The research project partners are Professor Carol Munn-Giddings, from Anglia Ruskin, and Professor Mark Avis, from the University of Nottingham.

In a PhD study led by Emma Kaminskiy, Anglia Ruskin researchers are also looking into long-term mental illness and how best to ensure people regularly take their medication.  

Often people who are prescribed psychiatric medication do not take it systematically and do not share this information with their doctor.  Furthermore, even those who do take medication sometimes complain of serious side effects that prevent them from leading an ordinary life and of difficulties in communicating their experience to their doctor.

This highlights lack of trust between mental health service users and their clinicians, and difficulties in sharing knowledge, both scientific and experiential, in a way that is constructive for all.  The team at Anglia Ruskin aim to ensure that both patients and doctors learn how to effectively go about reaching shared decisions about long-term psychiatric medicine and mental healthcare.

Meanwhile, researchers at Anglia Ruskin are exploring the benefits of ‘Forest School’ for children aged three to five. Forest School is an innovative educational approach to outdoor play and learning, engaging children with their environment at a young age and establishing healthy habits of fresh air and exercise.

The project outcomes will support the delivery of local policy to provide access to Forest School sessions for all children in the area.

Professor Rick Rylance, Chair Elect of RCUK said of Big Ideas for the Future:

“Research has an impact on all our lives. Whether it is a breakthrough in experimental science, or an invention that makes new things possible, or a project that leads us to understand better the strengths and weaknesses of our society, research is the key to the UK’s growth, prosperity and wellbeing.

“Big Ideas for the Future showcases just some of the excellent research being carried out in UK universities that achieves these aims. It is vital we continue to support the talented individuals whose work makes a real difference.”

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:

“The research that has taken place at UK universities has helped to change the world and the way we live, whether that’s discovering DNA, inventing the world’s first computer or finding cures for life-threatening illnesses.

“It is great to see this tradition of world-leading innovation continue and get an insight into the many inspiring and potentially-life changing projects currently being developed by our universities. I would like to congratulate Anglia Ruskin University on their inclusion in the Big Ideas for the Future report, and wish them the best of luck with their research.”

The publication of the report forms part of the second annual Universities Week, which takes place from 13-19 June 2011, and aims to increase public awareness of the wide and varied role of the UK’s universities. 

Universities Week looks at the many different ways in which universities affect all of our lives — from supporting the economy, to working within local communities, to looking at how their research programmes could change our futures. Hundreds of events will be taking place around the country open to members of the public, as well as high-profile media coverage and activity across social media networks.