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Social Work and Social Policy

Overview of Social Work and Social Policy 

Following the last Research Assessment Exercise in 2008, researchers in social policy, social work, criminology, health care and related disciplines have been brought together on a single campus which is enabling inter-disciplinary collaborations and positive relationships with policy-makers, professional groups and service users.

REF 2014 results highlights

  • Social Work and Social Policy at Middlesex achieved a sector wide power ranking of 4th
  • Ranked 2nd in the London power rankings and the top modern university, just behind LSE and ahead of UCL and Goldsmiths
  • 40% of our impact judged as outstanding (4 star)
  • 100% of our environment judged as internationally excellent (3 star). 

Our distinctive approach to research combines theoretically and methodologically rigorous research with a focus on significant policy and practice concerns. This is a substantially larger submission than in RAE 2008. The increase has arisen from the research development of previously non-submitted staff and investment in new junior and senior posts.

The Unit of Assessment case studies are:

The research has had several impacts, the key beneficiaries of which are vulnerable children. This includes:

  1. Improving policing and child protection practices through training with the Metropolitan Police and Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) on the online grooming of children
  2. Informing public debate on pornography, healthy relationships and sex education through extensive public engagement
  3. Impact on governmental policies regarding child protection and internet service provision.

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Empowering mental health service users

Following sustained research in the field – including the leadership of a large EU Framework 6 action project  called EMILIA and the follow up project, PROMISE – our findings identified how to reduce social exclusion among people with serious mental illness through lifelong learning and by improving participation in service delivery, education and training, as well as paid employment.

The research recommendations were included in a joint EU/WHO policy statement and subsequently rolled out across European Union member states. The research impacted the development of European and national policies regarding mental health service users and, through further knowledge transfer activities and the incorporation of the recommendations by a network of providers in 43 countries, also impacted on the profession and mental health service users directly.

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Evaluation of a parenting programme (FAST) leads to national roll-out

The education gap between children from poor homes and their peers is established before they start primary school. These early inequalities heavily influence children's later outcomes. FAST (Families And Schools Together) is a parenting programme that aims to reduce the educational effects of deprivation and promote family cohesion.

As a result of our evaluations of the programme, the UK government and international agencies have endorsed FAST. Specifically, we carried out research that has identified strategies for effective replication of the programme across a range of disadvantaged communities in different contexts.

The research underpinned Save the Children UK's decision to support the roll out of this intervention, with £7 million funding from Lloyds Bank and Morrisons grocery chain. Our evaluations of the roll-out demonstrate a range of impacts, including:

  1. Increased parental involvement in schools and increased social capital
  2. Improved parent-to-parent support networks, increased parent community leadership, positive child mental health outcomes and increased social skills
  3. Improved academic and school behaviour
  4. Reduced aggression and anxiety as well as reduced aggressive and delinquent behaviours after eight weeks.

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Improving the accessibility and appropriateness of services for migrant and minority ethnic communities

The increasing diversity of migrant and minority ethnic communities and the growing awareness of multiple experiences of inequalities (age, gender, race and religion) require appropriate interventions and policy measures.

Since the 1990s, research by the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) at Middlesex University has enabled minority ethnic organisations and other local service providers to gather evidence and develop initiatives and practices better adapted to a challenging socio-economic and funding context, responding to the changing needs of their users and challenging the barriers they face in accessing services.

Areas of focus include welfare advice, health services and the needs of migrant children and their families in relation to schooling and education. Key beneficiaries have been community organisations whose skills have been enhanced to use research evidence in identifying user requirements, successfully securing funding and meeting user needs.

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Research supporting legislative change in family migration

The impact of this research has its origins in work carried out by social policy and legal academics from the mid-2000s which challenged existing conceptualisations of family migration, the absence of gender considerations and the evidential basis for national and European policy in this field.

Since 2011, this work has culminated in an influential intervention in debates on the restrictions on spousal migration – especially relating to income requirements – having influenced debates in Parliament, among NGOs and the public.

It has played a significant role in discussions on the form and outcome of legal proceedings which challenged the compatibility of immigration rules restricting spousal migration with human rights and non-discrimination norms. The research has also made a notable contribution to legal challenges and policy debates that are creating impetus for reform.

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Statelessness and citizenship

Research produced by Professor Brad Blitz, Rajith Lakshman and Greg Constantine, all of whom are staff associated with the International Observatory on Statelessness (IOS), has had a significant impact upon the development of humanitarian policy and the protection of about 12 million stateless people worldwide (according to UNHCR estimates).

This stems from engagement with national governments, the UN and public bodies. Evidence of its impact includes:

  • Statements by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her deputy, and their drafting of a UN Human Rights Council resolution
  • Changes to UK immigration rules
  • Statements by UNHCR's High Representative
  • US Supreme Court decision Ruben Flores-Villar vs United States of America (0905801)
  • Raised public awareness through award-winning photographic exhibitions, short films and books.

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