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Adoption research centre secures life-changing £1.5m gift

The Rudd Centre for Adoption Research and Practice at the University of Sussex has received a new and substantial philanthropic gift from Andrew and Virginia Rudd to help establish a pioneering interdisciplinary training programme aimed at front-line practitioners working with children, parents and families.

The news was announced at the Sussex Rudd Centre’s recent symposium, “Promoting Positive Outcomes for Families, Parents and Children: Recent Evidence, Emerging Knowledge, Future Opportunities”, held on Tuesday (15 November).

The substantial additional donation from Andrew and Virginia Rudd will underpin and support the appointments of three senior researcher/academic posts in the areas of social work, education and medicine at the University of Sussex, working in alignment with the Sussex Rudd Centre in the School of Psychology.

The practitioner training will focus on improving the mental and physical health of children and young people, and promoting greater understanding of how to work with and transform the lives of vulnerable children, parents and families.

Since its launch in November 2013, the Centre has positioned itself in the UK and international landscape as a world-recognised research-led forum examining the role of family processes for child and adolescent outcomes, with a particular focus on areas such as adoption, foster care, disadvantage and wider family contexts.

Led by Centre Director Professor Gordon Harold, in his role as Specialist Advisor to the Early Intervention Foundation, the Rudd Centre has also worked closely with the UK Government to promote intervention and support strategies to assist family- and child-focused practitioners with evidence-led support.

Commenting on the gift, Andrew and Virginia Rudd said: “It’s been fantastic to be able to fund such a vital centre at the University; the impacts of research from the Centre are clear, with evidence of direct impacts on UK policy and practice where it is most fundamentally needed – helping parents, children and families.

“We are delighted to be able to help Professor Harold and his team take the next step and translate the truly ground-breaking research of the Centre, working in partnership with colleagues around the world.”

Professor Harold commented: “It is increasingly recognised that providing the right support, delivered in the right way, and introduced early in the lives of vulnerable or at risk youth substantially improves multiple long-term outcomes, including mental health.

“This gift will establish one of the very first truly interdisciplinary models of research-led training in the UK, working with front-line professionals in social work, education and health by harnessing research- and intervention-based knowledge from the areas of psychological and prevention science. 

“Working with the practice professions early will transform front-line capacity and research-led capability to deliver evidence-led services and interventions for children, parents and families most in need of support. It is not only an exciting opportunity to build and deliver this programme at Sussex, but a genuine privilege and honour to have the opportunity to do so.”

Professor Michael Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Sussex, added: “The research and knowledge-exchange impacts of the Rudd Centre has made huge strides in helping the government, local authorities, care providers and practitioners better understand the needs and support priorities of parents and children in vulnerable situations. We’ve worked hard to secure the expansion of the Centre’s work, so are delighted that this has come to fruition, thanks to the Rudd Family and their invaluable support.” 

Professor Harold presented a keynote address at the symposium on the ground-breaking research that the Centre has already undertaken and was joined by Francesco Arzilli, Economic Adviser at the Department for Work and Pensions, who detailed how this research is informing government policy aimed at improving outcomes for vulnerable and disadvantaged children, young people and families.

The Rudd Centre symposium also saw presentations from Professor Leon Feinstein from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, England; Dr John Simmonds OBE, Director of Policy, Research and Development at CoramBAAF; and the Solicitor and Government Special Rapporteur for Child Protection and Chairperson of the Adoption Authority of Ireland, Dr Geoffrey Shannon. 

By: Patrick Reed
Last updated: Wednesday, 16 November 2016