School of Education and Social Work

Centre for Social Work Innovation and Research

CSWIR Annual Report 2022 coverCSWIR Annual Report: 2021-22

Check out what we've been up to over the last 12 months in the CSWIR Annual Report: 2022 [PDF 5.41MB]

The key to achieving anti-racism in social work

Welcome to the Centre for Social Work Innovation and Research (CSWIR)

Located within the School of Education and Social Work, CSWIR has been established to advance the international profile and impact of research and innovative interdisciplinary approaches in social work. Our aim is to bring together social work scholars, professionals, and students, and provide a distinctive ground for research and innovation focusing on the changing nature of social relations of social work and other social action interventions.

As an innovation and research centre, CSWIR aims to:

  • promote social justice and rights
  • support protection and development of vulnerable populations under new global conditions of austerity and inequality
  • strengthen the re-articulation of social work as a distinctive mode of collaborative and participatory relationship-based social action.

In CSWIR, we benefit from cross-disciplinary internal, national, and international collaborations and links, and aim to extend and advance our partnerships with scholarly, professional, and governmental bodies.


Kitbag: A playful resource for serious work

Check out this podcast in which Professor Gillian Ruch is in conversation with Dr Margaret Hannah, Director of Health Programmes at International Futures Forum, a Scottish charity that has created Kitbag, a resource for building children's emotional and social literacy.


Communicating with Children & Families: A podcast interview between Professor Martin Webber (University of York) and Professor Gillian Ruch (University of Sussex)

Martin Webber (Professor of Social Work, Social Policy and Social Work, University of York) spoke to Gillian Ruch (Director of the Centre for Social Work Innovation and Research and Professor of Social Work at the University of Sussex) about her research for his blog. The podcast highlights the fascinating work being undertaken within CSWIR and also focuses on the value of relationship-based practice in social work. Martin encourages social workers to take and submit notes while listening to the podcast as part of their continuing professional development to meet Social Work England's registration requirements for social workers. He explains how this works within the first two minutes of the podcast. 

Visit Martin Webber's blog to listen to the Podcast


Understanding What Helps Young People

Lisa Holmes (Professor of Applied Social Science, Department of Social Work and Social Care, School of Education and Social Work, University of Sussex) was interviewed by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory with whom she talked about the need to challenge the care system. Calling for a deeper, more nuanced understanding of good outcomes for children and young people, she highlighted the need for more research to improve our understanding of this complex aspect of social work practice. This refreshingly innovative podcast includes questions from young people who are experts by experience.


CSWIR Podcast Series

CSWIR's theme for 2022 is 'Decolonisation and Uncertainty' for which we will be hosting a series of podcasts. They are intended to be a set of innovative and authentic episodes tackling different social challenges encountered in contemporary society. These will explore how contemporary issues are often difficult and, in order to seek solutions, require reflection, reflexivity and open communication. CSWIR uses the social work perspective and the principles of co-creation to construct better knowledge and better solutions in an age of uncertainty.

2. 'Decolonisation and Social Work'

The second episode of CSWIR's podcast series addresses ‘Using healing as a way of decolonising social work education’. Dr Henglien Lisa Chen (CSWIR Co-Director) and Professor Kris Clarke (Associate Professor of Social Work, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland) engage in conversation regarding issues of race, ethnicity and healing in the context of decolonising social work education. They also emphasise the importance of absorbing healing into the dialogue on race and ethnicity, especially in contemporary contexts where ethnic conflict is rife and in the important process of acknowledging indigenous histories that are often neglected. 

Kris was born and raised in Fresno, California, and immigrated to Finland over 25 years ago. Her early research interests were in multicultural social and HIV/AIDS. She worked on the European Project AIDS & Mobility for nearly a decade, which advocated for migrants living with HIV by challenging stigmatizing xenophobic narratives and opening up dialogues about diverse sexualities and human behavior. After returning to Fresno for 10 years, Kris became interested in decolonizing social work through her work with Dr Michael Yellow Bird, publishing Decolonizing Pathways towards Integrative Healing in Social Work in 2020 (Routledge). She currently teaches courses on international and structural social work and supervises master's theses and doctoral dissertations. Clarke continues to research and work with themes surrounding decolonizing social work, harm reduction, and HIV/AIDS. Kris also hosts The Social Work Routes Podcast, which invites guests with diverse experiences of social activism and social work. The podcast features conversations with people around the globe highlighting inspiring stories of fortitude and change-making. 


1. 'Decolonisation: Honest Conversations about White Supremacy'
Presented by Gillian Ruch, Professor of Social Work at the University of Sussex, and Victoria Forson, Family Court Advisor, Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services (CAFCASS).


Brenda HayangaSocial Work Research Fellow Scoops Prestigious Award

Brenda Hayanga, Research Fellow within the Department of Social Work and Social Care, is the joint recipient of the Campbell Collaboration's Farah Jamal Award 2021. The award recognises Brenda’s fantastic work with ethnic minoritised groups in the UK. Brenda's research interests include understanding the impact of health and socio-economic inequalities on people from minoritised ethnic groups. 


New research study looks at how best to address isolation and loneliness in older people from minoritised ethnic groups

Dr Brenda Hayanga, Research Follow, researched and publish a video about 'Addressing Loneliness and Isolation in Older People from Minoritised Ethnic Groups' which found that:

  • Older people from minoritised ethnic groups living in the UK are more likely to experience social isolation and loneliness as a result of age/ageism, migration-related factors, health and socio-economic inequalities, and racism/discrimination. 
  • Community-based groups tailored to aspects of older minoritised people’s identities that they value, and which provide activities/opportunities to connect based on these identities, can help social isolation and loneliness in older minoritised people. 



The video was supported by the School of Education and Social Work as part of a capacity-building fund, and was created by Science Animated


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