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SPRC celebrating 25 years of groundbreaking research

The Social Policy Research Centre at Middlesex has dedicated a quarter of a century to helping vulnerable communities

SPRC MiddlesexOn 4 March 2015, the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) at Middlesex University will mark 25 years of cutting-edge research with a reunion at Hendon Town Hall.

Since forming in 1990, the SPRC has been at the forefront of research into the lives of vulnerable communities, from drug users to refugees and migrants, and the event will be a chance for the founder members of the Centre, its current directors and staff, and former PhD students to reflect on their achievements.

"This is an exciting opportunity to celebrate the work of the centre over the last 25 years and to mark the specific contribution of former colleagues as well as looking to future opportunities," said SPRC Co-Director Professor Louise Ryan (pictured above at the launch of the 'Irish in Britain' report in the House of Commons last year).

Her Co-Director Professor Eleonore Kofman, an expert in gender, migration and citizenship, added "This is also an occasion to celebrate our collaboration with a wide range of organisations and funders and the graduate students whom we have trained in social research methods."

During the course of its history, the SPRC has secured a large number of significant research grants – enabling its researchers to carry out their vital work. While its personnel have changed, what has remained constant is the Centre's dedication to improving the lives of vulnerable communities, as the timeline below reveals.

25 years of major milestones

1990 – The beginnings of the SPRC

Senior Lecturer in Sociology Tony Cutler and Principal Lecturer in Social Policy Barbara Waine launch a master's programme in Social Policy.

1994 – Managing the Welfare State

Tony and Barbara publish Managing the Welfare State: The Politics of Public Sector Management – a comprehensive account of the major changes which had occurred in British public sector management in the previous decade.

1998 – Growing Impact of Social Policy Research

Professor Susanne MacGregor joins the Centre and publishes Social Issues and Party Politics with Helen Jones. Susanne and her colleagues in the SPRC undertook a number of projects on drugs policy (funded by Cabinet Office and the Department of Health) and area regeneration (funded by Joseph Rowntree Foundation).

In 2000, Susanne becomes a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and Chair of the Social Policy and Social Work Panel for the Research Assessment Exercise in 2001.

1999 – Centre in Racial Equalities Studies

Heidi Mirza (now Institute of Education Emeritus Professor of Equalities Studies in Education) establishes the Centre in Racial Equalities Studies (CRES), which was affiliated to the SPRC from 1999 to 2007. CRES later founds the Runnymede Collection at Middlesex University, a race-relations archive on the 20th century civil rights struggle in multicultural Britain, which is now located in the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton.

In 2005, Heidi publishes Tackling the Roots of Racism: Lessons for success with Reena Bhavnani and Veena Meetoo.

2000 – MSc Research Methods

Dr Linda Bell becomes an affiliated member of the SPRC and takes a leading role in the MSc Research Methods Programme (2000-2005). Linda is currently Associate Professor in Research Methods in the School of Health and Education.

2004 – Official recognition         

The SPRC gains recognition as a University Centre and Professor of Health Policy Betsy Thom, who specialises in drug and alcohol studies, takes over as Centre director. In 2007, Betsy publishes the influential Growing up with Risk with Rosemary Sales and Jenny Pearce.

2007 – New director

Rosemary takes over from Betsy as Centre director. In 2007, Rosemary publishes another important book Understanding Immigration and Refugee Policy: Contradictions and Continuities and helps secure a £277,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council for the study 'Cityscapes of Diaspora: Images and realities of London's Chinatown', following a £200,000 grant in 2006 from the Big Lottery Fund to investigate 'The Changing Chinese community in London: New Migration, New Needs'.

2009 – The present directorship

In 2009, Professors Eleonore Kofman (gender, migration and citizenship) and Louise Ryan (sociology) take the helm of the SPRC. The Centre's focus on migration and integration continues with a greater emphasis on comparative European research and extends into areas such as education, health and access to welfare in collaboration with migrant and community organisations.

Major research undertaken includes three European-funded projects: the FP7 project 'RESL.eu Reducing Early School Leaving in the EU' (£746,523); 'GENDERACE. The Use of Racial Anti-Discrimination Laws: gender and citizenship in a multicultural context' (£91,000); and 'Inequality and Multiple Discrimination in Access to Healthcare' (£95, 138).

2015 – 25 years

In 2015, the SPRC turns 25. The Centre's latest book, Migrant Capital: Networks, Identities and Strategies, part of a Palgrave series on 'Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship', edited by Louise, her colleague Dr Alessio D'Angelo and the Open University's Dr Umut Erel, will be launched at the anniversary event – testament to the ongoing success of the Centre.

Another book in the series, Gendered Migrations and Global Social Reproduction written by Eleonore and Dr Parvati Raghuram of the Open University, will be released shortly.

The future

Building on its successful track record of European funding, the SPRC is planning to develop future projects and collaborations with international partners. Its ongoing research will reflect the Centre's interests and expertise on issues of migration, education, discrimination and inequality.

In addition, the SPRC's members intend to continue their collaborations with local stakeholders and community organisations through on-going research around local initiatives, including regeneration and mapping projects.

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