Visualising Success: First-hand healthcare experience


Beth Hawitt
BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies

A placement at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital helped Beth enhance her learning, develop new skills and set herself targets to get the most from her time at Edge Hill. 

Beth worked in several wards, laboratories and clinics, giving her a broad insight into how the hospital works and allowing her to interact and learn from different healthcare professionals, patients and families. She gained experience of working with a range of conditions, including asthma, eczema, cystic fibrosis and cancer, as well as developing practical skills in play therapy and lung function assessment.

“I set myself skills and targets for this placement to help me with my future employment. I gained confidence, independence, experience of doing things on my own and the ability to ask more questions to benefit my own knowledge and practice.”
Beth Hawitt

Visualising Success: Going Dutch


Students compare child services in UK and Netherlands

Each year students on the Early Childhood Studies and Childhood and Youth Studies programmes have the opportunity to explore key issues from their modules in an international context with an educational and culturally stimulating field trip to Amsterdam.

The aim of the trip is to give students a deeper knowledge of childhood issues and apply a comparative analysis between the UK and the Netherlands. As well as visits to the Hestia Early Years Centre and the headquarters of international charity ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children), there are also opportunities to meet social workers who support families in the Amsterdam area. The students also get the chance to broaden their cultural horizons by exploring the city’s sights and attractions. 

“I found this trip to be really interesting, particularly the visit to Hestia to see how they value children and their role in society. It is a great way of comparing the European systems and seeing both the similarities and differences.”
Student feedback

Visualising Success: The complexities of consent


Research explores hidden world of autism and sexuality

Ground-breaking research is helping health professionals and care workers understand the issues and myths surrounding sex and sexuality of people with autism.

Despite persistent misconceptions that people with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) – and other disabilities – are asexual, there is evidence that many autistic people have sexual desires and want to have sexual relationships. This becomes problematic when a person’s ASC makes their consent legally unreliable, and can lead to them being at risk of exploitation or abuse. 

The research, in partnership with the charity Autism Initiative, explored what professionals feel they can, or should, do to support people with autism who cannot legally give consent, and how this fits with current policy, advice and training. 

“This research aims to highlight the value and problems of the current policy context and identify what, if any, changes need to be made to better support those working with people with autism and enhance their work practice.”Allison Moore, Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences

Visualising Success: Abroad curriculum


Emma Lane
BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies

Studying abroad in Denmark gave Emma much more than practical skills to work with children, added self-confidence and an international perspective on her studies – she also made lifelong friends with people from across the world. 

During her six months at University College Absalon in Trekroner, Emma completed three modules in Aesthetics and Learning in Early Childhood Education alongside other international students.

Through lectures, assignments, exams and fun, she developed her storytelling, playwriting and performance skills, as well as enhancing her knowledge of aesthetics in early years education. She also delivered practical sessions with children from Copenhagen International School. 

“I’m so glad I took the opportunity to go and study abroad. If anyone is looking to meet new people, learn about a new culture, new language and experience a new way of learning, this is definitely it.”
Emma Lane

Visualising Success: Political influence


Liam Pawlowski
BA (Hons) Sociology

Liam gained a rare insight into international politics during a two-week work placement at the European Parliament in Brussels, enabling him to understand the workings of a political system that affects the lives of over 500 million people.

As well as enhancing his contextual knowledge of the EU political system, Liam met with lobbyists, learned a lot of political jargon and discovered that the majority of parliamentary business was conducted, not in parliament, but in the bars and cafes of Place du Luxembourg. He also tested his practical skills by researching and preparing a Briefing Paper for an Member of the European Parliament.

“I was most pleased with the Briefing Paper that I prepared. My Advisor was delighted with it and said afterwards, ‘you have influenced politics’. This gave me a real sense of achievement.”
Liam Pawlowski

Visualising Success: Success is child’s play for Claire


Claire O’Brien
BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies, 2010

Despite suffering from severe ill health, Claire excelled academically – winning prizes and gaining the highest marks in her final dissertation – and went on to secure her dream job as a Play Therapist.

She developed an interest in children’s resilience during adversity while at Edge Hill and knew her career lay in therapeutic work with the most marginalised young people in society. Before starting her professional training with Play Therapy UK, Claire gained vital experience in settings as diverse as women’s refuges, nursery schools and family support. Claire now works as an independent Play Therapist, helping vulnerable children aged 3-11 express their feelings and develop coping strategies through play.

“I am forever learning from the children I work with, and no two days are ever the same. Play therapy is amazingly powerful, when you see children playing out experiences that they cannot find the words for, it is just incredible.”
Claire O’Brien


Research findings published

Dr Allison Moore and Paul Reynolds have just published their research findings in relation to an 18 month project entitled, “The Problems and Practices of Professionals and Care Workers working with Clients who are Sexually Active but not legally able to Consent to Sex.”

This challenging research focusses on an autism specialist service, Autism Initiatives and Dr Moore conducted research with members of staff to find their thoughts on what professionals and care workers should do when providing support for people whose intellectual disability or mental condition makes their consent – being informed, competent and free from coercion – legally unreliable? As desexualising prejudice about such people recedes, professionals and care workers and their organisations are left with no clear guidance as to how to deal with clients’ sexual desires, with the law unhelpful in the contradictory demands of the 2003 Sexual Offences Act and the 2005 Mental Capacity Act. The added dimension of the spectrum nature of autism makes this subject especially troubling in the current legal and socio-economic landscape.

The report was launched at an event at one of Autism Initiatives resource centre and presents a with wide range of findings and a number of recommendations for the organisation. The overarching consensus is that autistic people should be given education and support in the same way as anybody without a diagnosis, but care needs to be taken to make it person centred and appropriate. A number of the report suggestions are already being implemented by the organisation and Allison and Paul recently returned to present a day long training session about sex and sexualities for senior managers and selected staff as part of this process.

A formal launch at Edge Hill seminar is planned for late spring 2018 and all are welcome. Allison and Paul would like to thank the Research Investment Fund of Edge Hill University for their generous support to make the research possible.

The full report can be downloaded here: The Problems and Practices of Professionals and Care Workers working with Clients who are Sexually Active but not legally able to Consent to Sex report

Migration expert to work on World Bank project

Dr Zana Vathi

An Edge Hill expert in migration is working on a project funded by the World Bank which will examine the experience of reintegrating Roma people in the Western Balkans.

Dr Zana Vathi, Reader in Social Sciences, was invited to work on the project funded by the World Bank and the European Commission, and her research will continue until June 2018.

Migration from the Western Balkans to member states of the European Union remains substantial, but several European states have decided to return migrants to their countries following a decision by the EU to regard Western Balkan countries as “safe countries of origin” which makes it more difficult for migrants to obtain legal asylum status in the EU.

Data suggests that a substantial number of return migrants belong to the Roma minority, and due to the disproportionate poverty and widespread socio-economic exclusion, Roma people are thought to face particular challenges to reintegrate upon their return to home countries.

Zana’s research will focus on assessing and identifying these challenges.

The focus in the context of return migration has, for a long time, been on the sustainability of returns, and very explicitly so in the context of Western Balkans.

However, the EU Commission and major stakeholders such as the World Bank are starting to shift the attention onto a more individualised needs-based approach and look at the sustainability of reintegration, considering the vulnerabilities of returnees.

She said: “The new project with the World Bank brings new research income to the university and has a strong focus on policy-making, as the findings will be directly reported to the EU Commission, which will then tailor its approach to the Western Balkans’ region.

“I am advocating for a people-oriented approach as the Western Balkans go through the challenging EU accession process.”

Zana has substantial experience in the field of migration research, having been involved in various projects since 2005. During this period, she conducted policy-oriented research in the Western Balkans sponsored by various major charities such the IOM (International Organization for Migration), Terre des Hommes and GIZ.

In 2013, Zana launched a project on return and reintegration to Albania, titled The Return and (Re)integration of Albanian Migration and Their Children to Albania: Implications for Policy-making, which was funded by the Edge Hill University Research Investment Fund.

Find out more about studying Social Sciences here.

Collaborative Arts-based Research for Social Justice

This seminar celebrates the launch of the paperback version of Collaborative Arts-based Research for Social Justice (published by Routledge). This text focuses on the ways that social inquiry might be carried out with marginalised groups to promote social justice. The seminar includes discussion of some of the book’s themes including the power of the arts to critically explore those elements of life that are often hidden or disregarded. Drawing on a range of colourful examples, it will be argued that the arts can startle us out of complacency and enable a different way of knowing the social world.


Dr Victoria Foster is Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences and Associate Director (External Relations) of Edge Hill University’s Institute for Public Policy and Practice (I4P). Her work is concerned with social justice issues and all her research has involved collaborations with organisations outside of the university. Victoria’s ESRC funded doctoral and postdoctoral research was carried out at a Sure Start programme in North West England and involved developing a range of arts-based methods to evaluate people’s experiences of the programme. Since then she has worked on NIHR funded participatory research with parents of babies requiring neonatal care, and evaluations of several arts programmes. These include a drama-based crime prevention programme at the Royal Court Liverpool and an innovative educational programme carried out by the European Opera Centre. She is currently developing on an arts-based research project at a local community farm, exploring the politics of food production.

Inspirational young carer achieves First Class degree

A young carer since the age of 11, Jodie Williams has devoted much of her time to looking after her mother, and has still managed to graduate from Edge Hill University today with a First Class Honours degree.

Sociology graduate, Jodie, grew up in South Wales and at the age of 11 years old started caring for her mother who suffered with a number of health problems. However as she started secondary school, her mother’s health deteriorated and Jodie became her full-time carer.

“For me, the decision to start studying at University was a very big one to make,” said Jodie. “Not only did I have to consider myself, but I had to consider whether my mother would manage if I moved away.

“It was a big change for me to move away from my family and not be able to offer face to face support for my mother, after having been a continuous source of strength for my family. Fortunately, my father was able to undertake some of the caring responsibilities which allowed me to concentrate and study to the best of my abilities.

“I was awarded an Excellence Scholarship which helped me achieve the best result that I could because it helped to reduce the pressure and worry of what was happening at home because I was travel home to visit my family regularly. I am so grateful for this support as I was able to focus more on my studies and as a result of this, I am so proud to have received a First Class Degree.”

Jodie has devoted her free time to promoting services for children in similar situations by running workshops, doing media interviews and presenting to national carers’ organisations. Jodie’s “courage and determination” was recognised in 2015 when she received the Youth of the Year Award for Wales at Buckingham Palace.

“When I found out I was awarded the Youth of the Year Award for Wales I was shocked as it is always a surprise to me when people commend me for the way I support my mother as I see it as an everyday thing. I remember feeling elated and nervous at the idea as Buckingham Palace had always been the world away. I am grateful that my caring role has allowed me so many opportunities.”

Jodie aspires to encourage changes that allow people in a similar situation to have more opportunities, putting her academic skills and life experience to good use.

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