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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 involves working with those defined as marginalised due to their health and/or social situation to raise awareness and improve access and delivery in service provision.

[email protected]


Melanie joined ARU in 2004 as a Research Assistant, and worked on a number of nationally funded projects in the area of mental health and social inclusion. Since then she has lead and collaboratively worked on a number of funded research projects in the areas of complex needs of marginalised women, self-harm and peer support.

Research interests

  • Severe and multiple disadvantages in women
  • Self-harm in adults
  • 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 and severe disadvantage and adult self-harm. 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. Underpinning her research is a commitment to feminist forms of inquiry and inclusive methodologies.

Areas of research supervision

Current doctoral supervision:
Anna Dadswell: PhD ‘How young women with anxiety understand and manage their anxiety in their everyday lives’.
Beverley Gilbert: PhD ‘An Examination of peer mentoring, specifically with women who have multiple and complex needs in England’.
Recently completed doctoral supervision: 
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, wellbeing, and marginalised groups. 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

  • Co-lead of the Women & Girls Research Interest Group
  • Co-lead of the Faculty’s Participatory Research Group
  • HEA Fellow
  • Member of the Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN)

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

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

In press. Mental Health Review Journal Boyce, M. (2021). “It doesn’t stop when you get to 18”: experiences of self-harm in adults.

Boyce, M. & 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. Social Work & Sciences Review, 21(1), pp.21-33.

Munn-Giddings, C. & Boyce, M. (2020). How social governance, health care, and civil society shape self-help/mutual aid and peer support in Europe. In: T.Borkman (2020) Self-help/mutual aid groups and peer support. Brill Publishers, Leiden, NL. pp.141-162.

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

Munn-Giddings, C., Avis, M.,Boyce, M., Chaudhary, S. &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. & O’Brien, N. (2016). Learning from older citizens’ research groups. Educational Gerontology, 42(1), 58-69.

Wilson, C., Bungay, H., Munn-Giddings, C. & 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, 90-101.

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

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

Visram, N., Roberts, A., Seebohm, P., Boyce, M. & Chaudhary, S. The role of self-help groups in promoting well-being: experiences from a cancer group. Mental Health & Social Inclusion, (2012) 16(3), 139:416.

Recent presentations and conferences

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.