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Participatory Research Group

The Participatory Research Group (PRG) brings together staff and students from across ARU who are actively involved in undertaking, supporting and promoting participatory and inclusive methodologies.

We build partnerships with community members and practitioners who have direct experiences of the topic under study and facilitate their involvement in research in order to strengthen the value and impact of our work.

Our core membership are currently working in the areas of:

  • arts and wellbeing
  • bullying of young people
  • community-based collaborative methods with Gypsy Roma and Traveller populations
  • palliative and end of life care
  • self-help/mutual aid
  • women with complex needs
  • young women and anxiety

To find out more, visit our blog or email Anna Dadswell: [email protected]

Read more about read more about our people.

Boyce, M. and Munn-Giddings, C., 2019. Reflections on research with self-harm self-help groups. Social Work & Social Sciences Review, 21(1), pp. 21-33. doi: https://doi.org/10.1921/swssr.v21i1.1366

Boyce, M., Munn-Giddings, C. and Secker, J., 2018. ‘It is a safe space’: self-harm self-help groups. Mental Health Review Journal, 23(1), pp. 54-63. doi: https://doi.org/10.1108/MHRJ-06-2017-0021

Dadswell, A., Bungay, H., Wilson, C. and Munn-Giddings, C., 2020. The impact of participatory arts in promoting social relationships for older people within care homes. Perspectives in Public Health, 140(5), pp. 286-93. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1757913920921204

Knight-Davidson, P., Lane, P. and McVicar, A., 2020. Methods for co-creating with older adults in living laboratories: a scoping review. Health and Technology, 10, pp. 997-1009. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12553-020-00441-6

Mannell, J. and Dadswell, A., 2017. Preventing intimate partner violence: Towards a framework for supporting effective community mobilisation. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 27(3), pp. 196-211. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.2297

Moreno-Leguizamon, C., Smith, D. and Spigner, C., 2017. Positive aging, positive dying: Intersectional and daily communicational issues surrounding palliative and end of life care services in minority groups in the UK and the US. In Docking, R. and Stock, J. (eds.) The Routledge International Handbook of Positive Ageing. London: Routledge.

Munn-Giddings, C., Avis, M., Boyce, M., Chaudhary, S. and Seebohm, P., 2017. Being a ‘self-help supporter’: Recognising the roles that community practitioners can adopt in supporting self-help groups. Research, Policy and Planning, 32(2), pp. 113-125.

Borkman, T. and Munn-Giddings, C., 2017. Dialogic sharing of lived experience in different self-help/mutual aid groups. Groupwork, 27(3).

Munn-Giddings, C. and Borkman, T., 2018. Reciprocity in peer-led mutual aid groups in the community: Implications for social policy and social work practices. In Törrönen, M., Munn-Giddings C., and Tarkiainen, C., (eds.) Reciprocal relationships and well-being: Implications for social work and social policy. London and New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis.

Munn-Giddings, C., McVicar, A., Boyce, M. and O’Brien, N., 2016. Learning from older citizens’ research groups. Educational Gerontology, 42(1), pp. 58-69. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/03601277.2015.1065690

O'Brien, N., 2019. Understanding alternative bullying perspectives through research engagement with young people. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, p. 1984. doi: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01984

O'Brien, N., 2020. School factors with a focus on boarding schools. In Smith, P. and O’Higgins-Norman, J. (eds.) The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Bullying. London: Wiley-Blackwell.

O’Brien, N. and Dadswell, A., 2020. Reflections on a participatory research project exploring bullying and school self-exclusion: power dynamics, practicalities and partnership working. Pastoral Care in Education, pp. 1-22. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/02643944.2020.1788126

Ravalier, J., McVicar, A. and Munn-Giddings, C., 2019. Appreciative inquiry for stress management. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, 14(3), pp .260-279. doi: https://doi.org/10.1108/QROM-05-2017-1525

Smith, D. and Moreno-Leguizamon, C., 2017. Learning alliance approaches to working with BME communities on healthcare innovation: A case study in palliative and end-of-life care services. In Craig, G. (ed.) Community Organising against Racism: 'Race', Ethnicity and Community Development. Bristol: Policy Press.

Smith, D. and Moreno-Leguizamon, C., 2019. Engaging Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) elders in palliative care innovation through the Learning Alliance in Palliative and End of Life Care (LAPCEL) methodology. Palliative Medicine and Care International Journal, 1(3), pp. 1-2.

Read more about read more about key publications.

Members collaborate on research projects and consultancy, share expertise and resources.

Artists' Residences in Care Homes, Essex (ARCHE) Research Evaluation

ARCHE is an innovative programme led by Magic Me and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation that pairs cutting-edge arts organisations with care homes run by Excelcare in Essex to challenge what arts look like in this context. Professor Carol Munn-Giddings, Dr Hilary Bungay, Dr Ceri Wilson and Anna Dadswell at ARU are undertaking a ‘responsive’ research evaluation of the programme to enhance knowledge and understanding of the collaboration between artists and care home staff in delivering creative arts experiences for older people. Find out more about our ARCHE research.

Creative Journeys: Arts and social relationships for older people

The Creative Journeys research was led by Professor Carol Munn-Giddings, Dr Hilary Bungay, Dr Ceri Wilson and Anna Dadswell, in partnership with Essex County Council Cultural and Community Engagement team and the Older People’s Research Group Essex, and funded by the Arts Council England Research Grants Programme 2016-2018. It explored the impact of participatory arts on the social relationships of older people in care homes and how this might help to tackle issues of loneliness and social isolation.

Collaborative research to support women involved in prostitution

This research is led by Dr Melanie Boyce and supported by Anna Dadswell, in collaboration with a London-based charity providing services to women with multiple and complex needs, and funded by the Big Lottery Fund. It aims to evaluate a new outreach service for women at risk of prostitution, more specifically reflecting on the provision of a holistic, person-centred approach; the number of women supported and the role of those women in co-producing the service; and the potential to better understand credible strategies for exiting prostitution.

Effective support for self-help / mutual aid groups (ESTEEM)

ESTEEM was a national research project (2010-14) which explored the value of peer-led self-help groups in improving emotional wellbeing research, led by Dr Melanie Boyce and Professor Carol Munn-Giddings in collaboration with Self-Help UK and Nottingham University. The participatory research design led to the development of resources and training packages for practitioners and commissioners as to how they might best support self-help groups without damaging their peer-led and mutual aid ethos. Find out more about our ESTEEM research.

Learning Alliance in Palliative and End of Life Care (LAPCEL)

Led by Dr David Smith and Dr Carlos Leguizamon (University of Greenwich), LAPCEL is a network of academics, community organisations, hospices and specialist health and social care providers in north and mid Kent with an interest in raising access to and knowledge of palliative care among BAME populations in the region. We have been awarded three tranches of funding from Health Education England to develop activities and health promotion materials. Find out more about LAPCEL.

Older People’s Research Group Essex

After initial training to become citizen researchers with ARU led by Professor Carol Munn-Giddings and Professor Andy McVicar, the Older People’s Research Group Essex (OPRGE) has developed into an independent group of volunteers and experts in the field of 'age' through life experience. They undertake a range of research activities with various partners including ARU, Essex County Council and Age UK. Find out more about the OPRGE.

Reciprocal Encounters: Young adults leaving care

Through a European Union Marie Curie-Sklodowski Scholarship, Professor Maritta Törrönen from the University of Helsinki worked with ARU, supported by Professor Carol Munn-Giddings to conduct research on how to support the wellbeing of young adults leaving care in England and Finland. Young adults who had left care acted as co-researchers to explore their own experiences and the experiences of their peers, with a particular focus on the role of reciprocity and active emotional and social participation in society. Find out more about our Reciprocal Encounters research.

South Essex Service User Research Group and North Essex Research Group

Coordinated by Maxine Nightingale, the South Essex Service User Research Group (SESURG) and the North Essex Research Group (NERG) are both hosted at ARU and provide a forum for reviewing ongoing projects, planning new work and maintaining appropriate group procedures. Members have worked on commissioned consultations and evaluations, including developing research proposals, questionnaires, interview schedules and topic guides, conducting interviews, data entry and analysis, and contributing to reports and articles.

The impact of bullying and self-exclusion from school

This research led by Dr Niamh O’Brien took place at the Red Balloon Learners Centre - a charity offering short term educational and therapeutic support to young people who have been traumatised by bullying or other circumstances. The findings showed that young people did not feel supported by their schools when they sought help for bullying, and participants described the negative impact that bullying and subsequent self-exclusion had on their mental health. Findings were presented to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Bullying and sent to all Parliamentarians who have raised questions about bullying.

Read more about read more about recent projects.

In Chelmsford, a Participatory Inquiry Forum (PIF) is held four times each year with speakers including staff, practitioners, service users and doctoral students who make short presentations focused on methodology, methods of engagement and reflections on ethical and political issues raised. This is followed by interactive discussions and the opportunity to explore the topic and issues further.

In the summer, the PIF is used for networking and planning for the future.