Recent Projects

Children, young people and families using social work services in four UK cohort studies: Patterns, outcomes and changeFunded by the Nuffield Foundation (October 2013 – March 2015), this was a collaborative project with colleagues at the Universities of Cardiff and Lancaster.  It drew on four national cohort studies, spanning two decades, to study the patterns, outcomes and changes over time of children’s, young people’s and families’ contact with social work services. In particular, it looked at what distinguishes those who do and those who do not use social work services despite similar difficulties, and the differences in their outcomes.

Beyond the risk paradigm in mental health policy and practice:  This co-edited book project, in collaboration with colleagues from the Universities of Tasmania, Connecticut and Kent, was one of a three volume series exploring the dominance and impact of ‘the risk paradigm’ in the mental health, child protection and criminal justice practice arenas. The 'mental health' volume critically engages with the theoretical, policy, ethical and practice challenges that arise when working with those who are ‘risky’ or ‘at risk’ due to mental health problems, explores ways of promoting social justice through moving beyond the limitations of the risk paradigm.

Current projects:

I am currently pursuing with colleagues two new areas of research interest:

The first is to develop a narrative research methodology for use with longitudinal panel or cohort data, in order better to understand people's life histories, trajectories and outcomes over time.  

The second looks at how child and family social work is constituted in the public imagination, and at the social acceptance and ethical acceptability of social work practice in relation to risk.   

Doctoral research supervision

I have extensive experience of doctoral research supervision and I welcome applications from students interested in pursuing research on: children and young people's welfare, wellbeing and risk, and on the exchange of knowledge between research and social work practice.

My current and recent doctoral researchers' topics include:

  • Children's rights and interprofessional practice;
  • Governmentality and social work policy and practice;
  • Access to children's social work services; 
  • Research utlisation in social work practice; 
  • Siblings in spirit possession and witchcraft allegations;  
  • Experience of child rearing and child welfare among first generation African immigrant parents;
  • Professional learning from serious case reviews;
  • Continuing professional education for social workers in Zimbabwe