Dr Bella Wheeler

Post:Research Fellow (Education)
Other posts:School Tutor (Education)

Research expertise:
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Bella completed a BA in Cultures and Communities from the Centre for Continuing Education (CCE), University of Sussex in 2012. Bella received a First and the John Lowerson prize for best dissertation for her innovative research carried out in collaboration with the Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project (BUCFP) where she had been a volunteer, group facilitator and trustee for several years. Bella's dissertation 'Arts in the Community: Social Inclusion, Creative Spaces and Mental Health: A Study into the Functions of the Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project' explored ways in which the BUCFP's non-prescriptive and user-led ethos enabled the forming of creative and self-managing groups, asking how these related to wellbeing. 

Following completion of her BA, Bella continued studying at Sussex as part of the School of Education and Social Work where she undertook the 1+3 programme of study. This included an MSc in Social Research Methods for which she received a 2:1, before continuing study and research through a PhD in Social Work and Social Care which she completed in September 2017. Bella's ESRC funded PhD research built upon the positive relationships she had developed at the BUCFP and explored further how the user-led ethos enabled the forming of self-managing and creatively working groups, asking what these meant in terms of narrative formation and ideas of wellbeing. Using arts-based and qualitative methods, and a theoretical framework informed by ecological systems theory, Bella carried out in-depth qualitative longitudinal research with BUCFP participants in order to examine group narrative formation over time and ways in which group members were able to resist wider stigmatisation surrounding food poverty (a topic established as part of the collaborative ethos).

Bella has held various positions within the School of Education and Social Work at Sussex, including teaching on the BA Childhood and Youth and facilitating student study support groups for several years. Bella has also carried out a range of research roles within the department. 

Bella has also worked as a support worker with young adults with autism, challenging behaviour and complex needs and maintains an active interest in issues related to learning disabilities, mental health, service provision and inclusion. 


Research Fellow, School of Education and Social Work 



PhD Social Workk and Social Care 

MSc Social Research Methods (Merit) University of Sussex

BA Cultures and Communities (First) University of Sussex