Dr Melanie Boyce

Associate Professor of Gender and Social Justice
Faculty of Health, Medicine and Social Care
School of Allied Health and Social Care
Areas of Expertise:
Social Work and Social Policy
Research Supervision:

Melanie’s research aims to improve health and social care services for those defined as marginalised, with a particular interest in women facing multiple disadvantages.

[email protected]

View Melanie's ResearchGate profile


Melanie joined ARU in 2004 as a Research Assistant, having just completed her MSc in Social Research Methods from London South Bank University. For the next five years she worked on several internationally-funded research projects in the areas of mental health and social inclusion, where her interest in the inequalities facing marginalised groups/communities developed.

In 2009, whilst working full-time, she began her PhD that explored the role of self-harm peer-support groups. This brought together her interests in gender and experiential ways of knowing. Since then, she has led and worked on a range of projects in these areas.

Research interests
  • Multiple disadvantages in women
  • Self-harm in adults
  • Marginalised groups and communities
  • Peer support
  • Feminist inquiry
  • Inclusive methodologies

As a community-based social researcher, Melanie’s research focuses on working with groups of people who are often defined as marginalised and vulnerable due to their health and/or social situation. With expertise in working with women experiencing multiple disadvantages. Her research centres on providing evidence that can influence the development of socially just policy and practice approaches.

An emphasis throughout her research is an interest in experiential ways of knowing and peer-led initiatives and the ethics of undertaking research with marginalised groups. Melanie is an experienced qualitative researcher with expertise in feminist forms of inquiry and inclusive methodologies.

Areas of research supervision

Current doctoral supervision:

  • Sarah Moore: PhD VC Studentship, ‘An exploration of the mental health support needs of women experiencing Hyperemesis Gravidarum in the UK’.
  • Nicola Allen: PhD VC Studentship, ‘A multiple perspective understanding of trauma-informed care for women experiencing severe and multiple disadvantage’.
  • Folu Ajiboye: PhD, ‘Teaching conceptions and teaching approaches: Architectural education in Nigeria'.

Recently completed doctoral supervision:

  • Beverley Gilbert (2024): PhD, ‘An Examination of peer mentoring, specifically with women who have multiple and complex needs in England’.
  • Anna Dadswell (2023): PhD, ‘How young women with anxiety understand and manage their anxiety in their everyday lives’.
  • Eleanor Townsend (2021): PhD VC Studentship, ‘How do individuals, who have experienced mental or emotional distress, use different forms of peer support to enhance their well-being?’.
  • Fatemeh Azizi (2021): PhD, 'Identifying factors that facilitate or inhabit the integration of female Afghan refugees into British society'.

Melanie teaches on the undergraduate and postgraduate qualifying Social Work courses in the areas of research methods, peer support, marginalised groups and trauma-informed care. She is also a dissertation supervisor for the MA Social Work Dissertation.

Additionally, Melanie regularly teaches on the University’s Doctoral Training Programme and Staff Researcher Development Programme in qualitative methods and co-production.

  • PhD ‘The role of self-harm peer support groups’ (2016), Anglia Ruskin University.
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning & Teaching (2007), Anglia Ruskin University.
  • MSc Social Research Methods (2004), London South Bank University.
  • BA Hons Sociology (1997), The University of Sheffield.
Memberships, editorial boards
  • 2022-2025: Invited Guest Editor for Educational Action Research Journal special issue: Putting lived experiences at the heart of research: showcasing the use of participatory inquiry in health and social care
  • HEA Fellow
  • Member of the Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN)
Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

An examination of health care students’ awareness, treatment, and care of Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Team: Boyce, M., Wilson, C., Hooks, C. & Pregnancy Sickness Support. (2023-2024). Funder: Health, Wellbeing & Performance, £4,988. Principal Investigator.

Self-Help UK: Evaluation of the learning resource centre (2022-2024). Consultancy. Principal Investigator.

An exploration into the experiences of Roma families in Children’s Services. Team: Boyce, M., Greenfields, M., Radley, C., Coker, S., Felja, D. & Kostka, J (2022-2023). Funder: Safe & Inclusive Communities, £4,411. Co-Investigator.

Supporting Older People Research Group, Essex (OPRGE), Research Training Programme. Team: Munn-Giddings, C. & Boyce, M. Funder: OPRGE £4,500, Co-Investigator.

Evaluation of outreach support for women involved in prostitution. Team: Boyce, M. & Dadswell, A. (2017-2021). Funder: women@thewell, £50,000. Principal Investigator.

An exploration into the experiences of self-harm in adults. Team: Boyce, M. (2017-2018). Funder: Anglia Ruskin University Dragon’s Den Funding, £1,500. Principal Investigator.

Engagement Strategy for a Women’s Refuge with Colchester & Tendring Women’s Refuge. Team: Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M., O’Brien, N. (2014-15). Funder: Essex Police and Crime Commission, £19,486. Co-Investigator.

Effective support for self-help / mutual aid groups (ESTEEM). Team: Munn-Giddings, C, Avis, M., Collis, S. and Boyce, M., Chaudhary, S. & Seebohm, P. (2010-14). Funder: Big Lottery, £264,866. Co-Investigator.

Caregiver’s perceptions of the value of the arts in therapeutic and clinical interventions. Team: Bungay, H., Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M. & Wilson, C. (2014). Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council, £23,813.

Training & Supporting Older People as Researchers. Team: Munn-Giddings, C., McVicar, A., Boyce, M. & O’Brien, N. (2009-12). Funder: Essex County Council, £66,000. Co-Investigator.

Evaluation of a pilot employment support programme. Team: Boyce, M. & Pittam, G. (2009). Funder: Remploy, £17,500. Principal Investigator.

Briefing paper on supporting people with mental health problems to stay in employment. Boyce, M. (2008). Funder: Restore, £2,500. Principal Investigator.

The Innovatory Features of User Run Organisations. Team: Munn-Giddings, C., Smith, L., Boyce, M. & Wright, S. (2006-8). Funder: Mental Health Foundation, £50,000. Co-Investigator.

Social inclusion through supported employment for people with mental illness (SESAMI). Team: Secker, J., Schneider, J., Floyd, M., Boyce, M., Slade, J. & Johnson, R. (2004-6). Funder: European Social Fund. Researcher.

Selected recent publications

Boyce, M., Dadswell, A., Burch, S. and Sandu, A. (2024) 'Delivering trauma-informed outreach to women involved in street-based prostitution: enablers and barriers', European Journal of Social Work. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2024.2354928

Azizi, F., Lane, P. and Boyce, M. (2023) 'Afghan women refugees enduring domestic violence despite finding sanctuary in the UK', Journal of International Migration & Integration. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-023-01098-6

Boyce, M. (2023) 'Self-help organisations'. In: Kearns, K. and Wang, J. (Eds.) (2023) Encyclopedia of nonprofit management, leadership and governance. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Boyce, M. (2021) '“It doesn’t stop when you get to 18”: experiences of self-harm in adults', Mental Health Review Journal, 26(4), pp. 366-379.

Boyce, M. and Munn-Giddings, C. (2020) 'Reflections on research with self-harm self-help groups', Social Work & Social Sciences Review special issue: Research with hard-to-reach populations, 21(1), pp. 21-33.

Munn-Giddings, C. and Boyce, M. (2020) 'How social governance, health care, and civil society shape self-help/mutual aid and peer support in Europe'. In: Borkman, T. (Ed.) (2020) Self-help/mutual aid groups and peer support. Leiden: Brill, pp. 141-162.

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.

Boyce, M., Bungay, H., Munn-Giddings, C. and Wilson, C. (2017) 'The impact of the arts in healthcare on patients and service users: A critical review', Health & Social Care in the Community. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/hsc.12502

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 selfhelp groups', Research, Policy & Planning, 32(2), pp. 113-125.

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.

Wilson, C., Bungay, H., Munn-Giddings, C. and Boyce, M. (2016) 'Healthcare professionals’ perceptions of the value and impact of the arts in healthcare settings: A critical review of the literature', International Journal of Nursing Studies, 56, pp. 90-101.

Boyce, M., Seebohm, P., Chaudhary, S., Munn-Giddings, C. and Avis, M. (2014) 'Use of social media by self-help/mutual aid groups', Groupwork, 24(2), pp. 26-44.

Seebohm, P., Chaudhary, S., Boyce, M., Elkan, R., Avis, M. and Munn-Giddings, C. (2013) 'The contribution of self-help/mutual aid groups to mental well-being', Health & Social Care in the Community, 21(4), pp. 391-401.

Visram, N., Roberts, A., Seebohm, P., Boyce, M. and Chaudhary, S. (2012) 'The role of self-help groups in promoting well-being: experiences from a cancer group', Mental Health & Social Inclusion, 16(3), pp. 139-146.

Recent presentations and conferences

Boyce, M. & Dadswell, A. (2023) Capturing Subtle but Transformative Change Through Qualitative Methods for Women Experiencing Severe and Multiple Disadvantage. World Conference on Qualitative Research. Faro, Portugal, 24-28 January.

Boyce, M. & Dadswell, A. (2021) Unique role of outreach in supporting women with multiple and complex needs. ARU Public Event: International Women’s Day.

Boyce, M. & Dadswell, A. (2018) ‘Undertaking ‘collaborative’ research with women involved in prostitution’. Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN) International Conference Voicing and Valuing: Daring and Doing. Edge Hill University, Manchester, UK, 25-28 October.

Boyce, M. (2017) Key Note: ‘Enabling individual and collective gains through self-help/mutual aid’. Voluntary Action Camden (VAC) Maximising Community Resilience Through Mutual Aid, London, UK, 29 September.