On 4 March 2015, the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) at Middlesex University turns 25. Since it was founded in 1990, the SPRC has conducted groundbreaking research on topics such as drugs and migration for the benefit of vulnerable communities in the UK and abroad. In this three-part series, we meet the Middlesex University alumni who have not only been inspired throughout their careers by the work of the SPRC but have themselves played a key role in the Centre's journey.
Dr Xia Lin
In the first feature in this series we look at Dr Xia Lin, learn about her work at Toynbee Hall and hear about how her time with the SPRC has shaped her career.
Toynbee Hall is a community organisation that has pioneered ways to tackle poverty and disadvantage for 130 years.
Having recently reinstated a strategy to develop social policy research Toynbee Hall brought Dr Xia Lin on board to develop this strategy.
"I can say I am a product of the SPRC. The SPRC made me a researcher and has given me my career" - Dr Xia Lin
As Data Evaluation and Research Coordinator, Xia's job involves evaluating all projects across the charity, including various advice services and support services for older people, young people and ethnic minorities.
Xia also manages research at Toynbee Hall. Her recent projects have included addressing the impact of legal aid funding cuts on people's access to justice and a study on people's use of credit products.
Toynbee Hall are also working in partnership with the SPRC running an internship programme, and the partnership are currently planning a research project to investigate the changing socio-economic conditions of East London.
"I am inspired by the privileged social policy work that Toynbee Hall have carried out since William Beveridge and Charles James Booth in the 19th century." Xia told Middlesex, "I enjoy doing research there which gives a voice to socially disadvantaged people."
Research with the SPRC
After completing her Masters in Social Policy and Social Research at Middlesex, Xia went to work with the SPRC where she worked on funded research projects and did her PhD in Chinese identification.
Her PhD highlights the hybrid and fluid nature of Chinese identification, or the 'dance' of Chineseness as Xia defines in her study. It also explores the idea of home for the Chinese, including first and second generations as well as new migrants.
With funding from the AHRC and the Big Lottery, Xia also worked on other research projects at the SPRC, exploring issues including diaspora, identity and belonging in relation to London's Chinatown and Chinese migration.
"What I found most inspiring about working and studying at the SPRC was the staff's trust and belief in people. As someone who came to the UK as a new migrant, I was welcomed and supported by my teachers and colleagues, who appreciate diversity not just academically but also personally.
Without Professor Sales's belief in me, I would never have been be able to start my PhD. Professor Kofman continuously inspired me to explore issues on Chinese migration. The trust and belief I felt there encouraged me to remain and develop my relations with the Centre, and to work with Professor Ryan and Dr D'Angelo, even after I left the SPRC."
With plans to continue developing her research career, looking into subjects including migration, mixing, space, hospitality and domestic violence, Xia feels that her time at the SPRC gave her the experience and confidence in working on research projects that has enabled her to pursue her career in research.
"Under superb supervisions from Professor Ryan, Professor Sales and Dr Tilki, I significantly developed my academic knowledge, skills and experiences during my PhD. I can say I am a product of the SPRC. The SPRC made me a researcher and has given me my career."
The SPRC anniversary is taking place on 4 March 2015. For more information on this event click here.