Centre for Social Work Innovation and Research

Past Events 2018/19

Meeting with the Stranger as an Opportunity for Personal and Professional Development -          2 October 2018

Time: 5-6.30pm
Venue: Room 103, Ashdown House

An open research seminar presented by Shirley Ben Shlomo, The Louis and Gabi Weisfeld School of Social Work, Bar Ilan University, Israel

According to the concept of ‘meeting with the stranger’, each encounter is first and foremost a meeting with a concrete stranger - such as an immigrant who came from another country, or a subject we encounter for the first time - such as death or illness.

In this seminar, Dr Ben Shlomo talked about the theoretical concept coined by Julia kristava and, through examples, demonstrated how to work in steps to help students develop cultural competence.

Dr Shirley Ben Shlomo is a clinical social worker and psychotherapist specializing in theraputic work with parents, children, and youth. She leads a BA programme at the Louis and Gabi Weisfeld School of Social Work and her research is focused on children and adolescents and on developmental implications of intergenerational transmission of abuse and neglect, as well as the representation of social work and social workers in the media.

Children Who Care: Young carers research policy and practice - 25 February 2019

Time: 5-6.30pm
Venue: Room G31, Jubilee

An open research seminar presented by Saul Becker, Professor of Social Work & Social Policy / University of Sussex Provost & Feylyn Lewis, Research Fellow

This seminar presented a review of the 30 year history of research, policy, and practice developments for children with unpaid family caring roles. ‘Young carers’ are defined as young people under the age of 18 who provide care, support, and assistance for another family member or friend with a health-related condition, disability, or addiction.

In their seminar, Saul and Feylyn critically examined why these children take on significant responsibilities that would normally be associated with adults, reflecting on family practices and cultural and societal factors. The impact of substantial care provision during childhood onto psychosocial development, educational experiences, and the transition into adulthood were also considered. Finally, they shared initial findings from the first phase of their research study on the mental health wellbeing of European adolescent young carers.


Feylyn Lewis
A native of Nashville, Tennessee, USA and a Vanderbilt University alumna, Feylyn is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Sussex. Co-leading with the world’s leading young carer researcher-advocate Professor Saul Becker, they have been awarded a €4 million European Commission funded research project to investigate the mental health well-being of adolescent young carers in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Feylyn is also a nationally certified mental health counselor (USA) and a former young carer for her disabled mother. Her doctoral research at the University of Birmingham focused on the identity development of young adult caregivers living in the United Kingdom and United States; it is also the largest qualitative research project involving young adult carers undertaken in the United States and the only UK-USA comparative research project involving young carers. Her research with young carers has taken her around the world, presenting in places as diverse as Miami, Zurich, and Ljubljana, and in front of audiences as varied as schoolchildren in Nashville to academics and policy experts in Sydney, Australia. While continuing to build impact through research, she remains committed to raising the profile of young carers through blog writing, podcasts, and speaking engagements across the globe.

Saul Becker
Professor Saul Becker became the first permanent Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Sussex in September 2017, before becoming Provost in October 2018. He was previously Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Birmingham, Head of the College of Social Sciences, and a member of the University Executive Board.

Saul has previously held chairs at the universities of Loughborough, Birmingham and Nottingham before returning to Birmingham in 2014. At Nottingham (2006-14) he was Assistant Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation, Faculty Director of Research for the Social Sciences and Head of the School of Sociology and Social Policy, which included Social Work.
Saul is an active researcher and passionate advocate for public engagement, with more than 50 externally funded research projects as principal investigator (total value £2.9 million), 330 publications (including 18 books) and over 210 conference papers, most as invited keynote speaker.
He is regarded as the world leader for research on young carers – children who provide (unpaid) care to ill, disabled and other family members. He is invited around the world to talk about his research, policy, and he currently advises Governments, policy-makers and professionals/service providers in a number of countries.
Saul is an Academician of the UK’s Academy of Social Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He was a member of the REF 2014 Sub-panel 22 for Social Work and Social Policy, and is a former chair of the UK Social Policy Association. He is the Founding Series Editor for the Policy Press Understanding Welfare book series. Saul is also a qualified and registered social worker, and was a young carer in his childhood.

In Whose Interest? The privitisation of child protection and social work - 30 April 2019

Time: 4.30-6pm
Venue: Room 201, Fulton

An open research seminar presented by Professor Ray Jones, Emeritus Professor, School of Allied Health, Midwifery and Social Care, Kingston University, London.

As the government continues to open up child protection and social work in England to a commercial market place, what is the social cost of privatising public services? And what effect has the failure of previous privatisations had on their provision?

This seminar followed Ray’s book of the same name and told the story of how crucial social work services, including those for families and children, are being out-sourced to private companies. Detailing how the failures of previous privatisations have led to the deterioration of services for the public, Ray illustrated how this trend threatens the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children and disabled adults.

Ray Jones has more than 40 years experience as a social worker and has been a director of social services, chief executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, and chair of the British Association of Social Workers. He is also a frequent media columnist and commentator and the author of six books. In 2017 he received the Social Worker of the Year Award for Outstanding Contribution to Social Work.

Traps, Gaps and Benefits Distress: The harmful psychosocial impacts of welfare reform for claimants with mental health needs - 14 May 2019

Time: 4.30-6pm
Venue: Room G22, Jubilee

An open research seminar by Dr Rich Moth, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, School of Social Science, Liverpool Hope University.

The findings presented in this seminar were from a small-scale qualitative study exploring the experiences of people with mental health needs claiming two social security benefits: Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Reduced access to, and adequacy of, benefit coverage have led to diminished levels of social protection for claimants with mental health needs. Dr Moth outlined a number of harmful psychosocial effects arising from engagement with benefit assessment and administration processes - procedures experienced as discriminatory and traumatizing by claimants, who consequently described heightened levels of stress and distress.

Overall, the data suggested that ‘traps’ (within administrative processes) and ‘gaps’ (in coverage) threaten claimants’ sense of ontological security,
undermining subjective wellbeing and exacerbating experiences of mental distress. The term ‘benefits distress’ was proposed to describe these forms of suffering that are being institutionally propagated by UK government agencies and the corporations to which state welfare functions are outsourced.

Recurrent Removals: Contemporary issues in research and practice - 9 July 2019

Time: 12.30-4.30pm
Venue: Room G30, Jubilee

A research and practice symposium presented by: 

  • Professor Karen Broadhurst and Dr Claire Mason, University of Lancaster
  • Cas Short, Brighton and Hove City Council
  • Jacquie Holloway, East Sussex County Council

This symposium - hosted by the Centre for Social Work Innovation and Research in collaboration with Brighton and Hove City Council, East Susses County Council and the University of Lancaster - provided an opportunity for a range of professionals to hear about current research and practice issues in the field of recurrent removal of children from their families. Presentations included findings from recent and current research being undertaken across local authorities in England and issues arising from practice in local social work contexts.

The event also offered an opportunity to engage in active dialogue with peers and colleagues and network across the diverse stakeholder groups engaged in this work