VAMHN members and VAMHN funded ECRs will be attending the 2023 European Conference on Domestic Violence in September to share their important work on Interventions, Coercive Control, and Violence Researcher Well-being.
Dr Alexis Palfreyman and Dr Sharli Paphitis will be presenting VAMHN funded research on Coercive Control in Youth Relationships.
About their work: Research on intimate partnerships before marriage, including perceptions and experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) among young and unmarried women, remains scant across South Asia. This study generated an understanding of IPV experienced within contemporary intimate partnerships across Sri Lanka from the perspective of young unmarried women, by exploring (1) their perceptions of violence in pre-marital relationships; (2) forms and use of controlling behaviours in youth intimate partnerships; (3) the extent to which these are viewed as IPV; and, (4) rationalisations for coercive control and IPV. Eight young women (18-29) from three provinces were recruited to co-lead this research as part of a larger multi-method Participatory Ethnographic Evaluation and Research (PEER) project. Each PEER researcher conducted three rounds of in-depth interviews with three socially connected female peers (18-29) (n=24), complemented by a creative writing exercise. Framework analysis was applied across the dataset. Young women defined modern intimate relationships as love affairs, boyfriend/girlfriend arrangements, marriage, or recurring sexual relationships between people (excluding sex work). IPV was most commonly perceived to begin through acts of controlling behaviour, including regulating dress and social contacts, expecting declarations and approved ‘gestures’ of love and commitment, and being subject to check-ins or surveillance by the male partner and/or his trusted social contacts. Acts of coercive control were perceived to be viewed as a ‘less serious’ form of abuse among young women and/or rationalised as culturally normative gestures of love and attention. Understanding modern (pre-marital) intimate relationships and the role and emergence of coercive control within them from the perspective of young and unmarried women is a crucial foundation for developing interventions to prevent IPV and promote healthy relationships. Further research exploring evolving pre-marital courtship practices and culturally appropriate interventions to address normalisation and rationalisations of coercive control are required.
Ms Anjuli Kaul, Dr Katherine Saunders and Dr Sharli Paphitis will be presenting their VAMHN funded research on Improving Emotional Safety, Coping, and Resilience Among People Conducting Research on Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse.
Violence and abuse (VA) researchers are frequently exposed to traumatic material through their work, including through hearing first-hand accounts of trauma when conducting interviews with perpetrators and survivors; recruiting participants in trauma services (e.g. Sexual Assault Referral Centres, prisons etc.); and absorbing distressing material through analysing secondary data. Subsequently, VA researchers are susceptible to experiencing secondary trauma throughout their work. Seven female VA researchers were recruited for inclusion in the study from 5 different UK universities. Participant ages ranged from approximately 25 – 65 years old, and their level of experience in the field ranged from 1.5-15 years. This research found that symptoms of secondary trauma are common amongst VA researchers. Mental harms arise from a range of sources, including the traumatic nature of the research, workplace stressors and insufficient support provided at an organisational level. This research suggests that research organisations can improve mental health outcomes in VA researchers through workplace culture reform and providing trauma-informed training and support. Academic researchers work more overtime than most other professions, so universities should actively encourage time away from work as part of a broader strategy to foster a culture of acceptance and empathy towards VA researchers. Universities should also develop peer support spaces and training resources that are specifically tailored towards VA researchers to provide them with the tools to help navigate the challenges of their work.
Have a look at the posters presented at the ECDV Conference below:
We are incredibly excited to announce that the VAMHN has secured additional funding from two new sources and will be running for another year! We’re super excited to continue connecting with our amazing members until 2024. Our activities for the VAMHN’s upcoming fifth year will centre around the theme of Coercive Control.
Coercive control sits at the heart of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence, but also plays a central role in many other forms of violence and abuse. Around the world, too little is known about the mechanics and nuances of this highly manipulative form of abuse. Estimates of coercive control have risen year-on-year, with 41,626 offences of coercive control recorded by the police in England and Wales in 2022. However, this figure is a conservative estimate of the problem, given most people do not report their experience to the police.
One of the grants to VAMHN is provided by global business leader, Cristiana Falcone, and her team at the BECS Foundation, which aims to spearhead academic and clinical research into coercive control in the UK. Falcone has 20 years of experience advising global corporations on the boards of Revlon and Viacom, and international governmental organizations including the World Economic Forum. Since 2006, she has served as CEO and trustee of the JMCMRJ Sorrell Foundation, leading transformative global initiatives in health, education and poverty reduction.
Cristiana Falcone commented: ‘Across our global society, domestic abuse is a serious intergenerational issue, and one we have a fundamental duty to address. I am honoured to lend my support to King’s College London and the VAMHN as leading organisations that are committed to enhancing our understanding of the critical early warning signs. My hope is that we can be even better equipped to stop cases of coercive control and domestic abuse in their tracks.’
The other source of funding is from VISION, a UK Prevention Research Partnership consortium, which builds upon and extends our ongoing partnership with them. VISION is a collaboration of epidemiologists, economists, data scientists, criminologists, evaluation experts, psychiatrists and more from multiple universities. Their research brings data together from health and crime surveys, health services, police, solicitors, and third sector domestic and sexual violence specialist services. Together, they aim to improve the measurement of data on violence to influence policy and practice and reduce violence and the health inequalities that result.
Professor Gene Feder, Professor of Primary Health Care at the University of Bristol and director of VISION , commented: ‘The work of VAHMN is closely aligned with VISION's goals of improving measurement of violence and better use of data to prevent and mitigate the harm that violence causes to health and wellbeing. We are particularly keen to support VAHMN's pioneering engagement with survivors of violence in co-producing research and to bring that engagement into VISION's research programme.’
Professor Helen Fisher, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at King’s College London and co-leader of the Network, commented: ‘Coercive control and domestic abuse are critical social issues which demand truly pro-active, interdisciplinary action. We believe strongly in the potential of the pioneering research that those with lived experience, researchers, clinicians, and other members of the VAMHN are leading, and are extremely thankful for the support of advocates such as Cristiana and the VISION UKPRP consortium, which is essential to progress this vital work.’
Over the next year, the VAMHN will continue to run the platforms and activities you’ve been engaging with over the past 4 years, as well as developing some new opportunities for all our members to get involved with. Some of the upcoming activities we’ve got planned include:
There will be loads of exciting opportunities for get involved with our upcoming activities this year, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated through our newsletter and twitter account.
VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY WINNER Lilly Neubauer DISCUSSES her attendance at the Creative Research Methods Course
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Lilly Neubauer did with their award money.
Thanks to the VAMHN bursary I attended a Creative Research Methods Course lead by Helen Kara. The six weeks course has changed the way I think about research and has been one of the best things I’ve done so far during my PhD. The course introduced us to lots of different ways of using creative methods in research, for collection, analysis and communication. We explored the use of video, photography, comics and animation, poetry, metaphor, objects and place, and we discussed ways of enriching traditional methods like semi-structured interviews or focus groups with creative aspects. This opened my eyes to a completely different, ‘rebellious’ way of doing research and made me think about why these methods are not more commonly found in academia, despite much evidence that they can be highly effective, especially in fields of ‘sensitive’ research. There were countless examples brought up during the course of researchers using creativity to put study participants at ease or make talking about difficult experiences easier for them – such as allowing people to draw comics of their experiences; giving participants cameras so they could document aspects of their lives for themselves; or basing interviews around objects of personal meaning to enable participants to tell their stories on their own terms.
Furthermore, we also explored inspiring examples of people using creative disciplines to communicate their research to a wider audience, such as using comics or animation to tell the story of their research, or poetry to get across some of the more intangible aspects of what they found. One of my favourite assignments in the course was to create a poem about your research. I chose to use the “found poetry” method, where I used words and phrases taken from the data I had collected from Reddit about people’s experiences of emotional abuse. I then used these words and phrases to construct poems around different themes I had found in my data. I felt that these poems were powerful and communicated something deeper about my data than could be put across in an academic paper. Overall, this course was an enriching and fascinating experience for me. Thanks to VAMHN for the opportunity!
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Siofra Peeren did with their award money.
Sexual Violence Research Initiative Forum, Cancun, Mexico, September 2022
Because of my ECR bursary I was able to attend and present my PhD research at the largest global conference on sexual violence: The Sexual Violence Research Initiative Forum in Cancun, Mexico. This conference brought together survivors, researchers activists, providers, third sector, industry and policy professionals to reflect on all aspects of sexual violence. It had an incredible programme of research and practice-based presentations as well as an impressive variety of well-being and networking activities. I presented on conducting a trauma-informed systematic review as part of a panel called ‘Being Trauma-Informed’, speaking alongside others who had used creative ways to make their research trauma-informed. At this conference, I connected with international peers and learned about I also made links with industry that I have continued to sustain since the conference. Many presentations at the conference stressed the importance of working in partnership with survivors in this field. Collaboration and partnership working are essential components of trauma-informed approaches and a strong interest of mine, and it was enriching to learn about the different ways that partnership working can look in different methodological, cultural and social contexts. Having the opportunity to attend the Sexual Violence Research Initiative has therefore given me invaluable opportunities to expand my network, disseminate my work and broaden my knowledge at a critical time in my career.
Overseas Institutional Visit to the University of Melbourne
The VAWMHN ECR bursary supported a 3-month visit to the University of Melbourne. I visited the Safer Families Centre which is a leading Centre of Excellence that aims to transform the health sector response to domestic and family violence. During my visit, I had the opportunity to collaborate with leading researchers in my field to analyse research data they had collected about intimate partner sexual violence. This collaboration resulted in a first-author publication which is currently under review. Having experience of working alongside an experienced qualitative researcher whose work had a significant influence on my PhD gave me unique skills and experience in qualitative research methods. It was refreshing to be part of a different team, learn about different ways of doing research in my field, and to gain experience working in research in a very different part of the world. The team I visited gave me an extremely warm welcome and have continued to keep in touch. These connections will significantly benefit my future career.
VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY WINNER laura havers DISCUSSES THEIR ATTENDANCE AT a multilevel modelling workshop
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Laura Havers did with their award money.
The bursary that I was awarded was used to support my attendance on a 2-day multilevel modelling workshop. The workshop that I attended was held online, hosted by faculty at the University of Maryland, USA. The workshop introduced the statistical theory of multilevel modelling as it is applied in the behavioural/social sciences. Practical experience in estimating the models was supported throughout the workshop, and guided interpretation of the results was provided.
In attending this workshop, I gained both a theoretical and practical understanding of the multilevel framework. This will allow me to apply multilevel modelling in my postdoctoral research, which aims to understand relations between childhood maltreatment and adolescent mental health, specifically through the lens of intersectionality. Intersectionality is a broad theoretical framework that views the intersection of an individual’s characteristics (e.g., gender identification, ethnicity, sexual orientation) as giving rise to a unique social and societal position within structural conditions of oppression and privilege. I will use the knowledge gained in this workshop to model intersectionality at the strata level, thereby allowing for an estimation of the extent to which the relation between childhood maltreatment and mental health is attributable to intersectionality.
VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY WINNER alison mckinlay DISCUSSES THEIR ATTENDANCE AT THE public health science conference
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Alison McKinlay did with their award money.
In November 2022, I attended the UK Public Health Science conference in Glasgow with the help of an ECR Bursary Award from VAMHN. The conference is run by early career researchers for early career researchers, dedicated to showcasing developments in the field. The theme this time focused on creativity, innovation, and novel methodologies in public health.
The day featured many fascinating talks, including several studies using coproduction methods to learn more about young people’s perception of health and inequality through art (Laura Tinner) and working with migrant mothers in public health research grant development (Kerrie Stevenson). One of the highlights was an interactive theatre workshop from Anna Dowrick and group Performing Medicine. They used art and performance to share the findings of a research project on health inequalities experienced by ethnic minority communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was so powerful and engaging to see research quotes performed by actors.
During the conference, I presented a poster summarising our research, focussing on the ways women with past experiences of abuse used the arts and creativity to support their mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this Wellcome Trust funded research, we found that participants engaged in creative arts during the lockdown to help create a routine and practice mindfulness. There were also benefits for those experiencing social isolation when some art forms were able to be moved online (i.e., singing groups, drawing classes). However, there were also important barriers to arts engagement and subsequent wellbeing benefits, including concerns about online safety from abuse perpetrators, excess screen time causing fatigue, and limited time or resources to access art materials. During the session, I was also able to network with other researchers doing research into the wellbeing benefits of arts and creativity. It helpful to be able to learn about the similarities in some findings but also the distinctions that are specific in the consideration of arts-based research involving survivors of abuse.
And finally, I was also grateful to have the opportunity to talk about another creative arts research collaboration with Viv Gordon Company (funded by VAMHN), called Plain Sight. In this project, Viv and I had been working to incorporate creative writing, performance art and film to help tackle stigma and public misperceptions about adult survivors of child sexual abuse.
Thank you to VAMHN for awarding me with the travel bursary that supported my attendance at this event.
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Guy Skinner did with their award money.
Receiving an Early Career Researcher Bursary from VAMHN to attend the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect’s (ISPCAN) 2021 International Congress was an incredible opportunity that I am extremely grateful for.
As a researcher, I am incredibly passionate about improving the lives of vulnerable children who have suffered domestic abuse, especially those who live with parents with mental health and domestic violence issues themselves. It is a complex and multifaceted issue that requires a comprehensive and collaborative approach to address.
Attending the ISPCAN 2021 International Congress provided me with a valuable opportunity to learn about the latest research findings and innovative practices in the field of child protection, particularly in relation to children who have experienced domestic abuse. The congress highlighted the importance of a holistic approach to child protection, which considers not only the individual needs of the child but also the family and community context in which they live.
My research focuses on child protection policies and practices, and how they can be improved to better support vulnerable children and their families. Through my work, I aim to identify the gaps and challenges in the current systems and to develop evidence-based solutions that are effective and sustainable.
My passion for this work stems from a deep commitment to social justice and a belief in the inherent value and dignity of all human beings, especially children who are often the most vulnerable members of our society. It is essential that we work together to ensure that all children have the opportunity to grow and thrive in safe and nurturing environments, free from the trauma and harm of domestic abuse.
In conclusion, attending the ISPCAN 2021 International Congress was an extremely valuable experience that has further fuelled my passion for improving the lives of vulnerable children who have experienced domestic abuse. It has provided me with new insights and perspectives, and a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to this important work. I am grateful for the support from VAMHN and look forward to continuing to make a meaningful contribution to this field.
VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY WINNER Tina khanna DISCUSSES THEIR attendance at the International Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Tina Khanna did with their award money.
I was awarded the Early Career Researcher Bursary from VAMHN to attend the 2022 Biennial Conference of the International Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health. The conference was the most appropriate platform to meet the experts and peer researchers and learn about the latest developments and research in the field of perinatal mental health. In particular, I learned about research methods and techniques for measuring perinatal mental health among women. Further, the session on the father's involvement in pregnancy provided evidence to understand better the father's mental health and involvement in the family during the perinatal period. I also had the opportunity to present my research study that provided insights into the relationship between partner support and psychological distress among young women during pregnancy from a low- and middle-income country. Lastly, I also participated in the Father's Special Interest Research group meeting during the conference. I was thrilled to meet researchers and found the discussion on the challenges of enrolling fathers into research and implementation programs in perinatal mental health useful. Learning about creative and strategic ways of reaching out to fathers was exciting.
I am very grateful to VAMHN for providing this grant and supporting my participation at the conference.
VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY WINNER Natalie Lowry DISCUSSES THEIR REGISTRATION WITH THE BPS health psychology course
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Natalie Lowry did with their award money.
The funding from the VAMHN has been greatly appreciated and vital in enhancing my career as a health psychologist. With the funding I have been able to register on the BPS health psychology course and pay for supervision fees with a chartered health psychologist. Having this qualification is fundamental in the progression of my research and ability to provide interventions in health psychology. Throughout my training I am also completing a PhD in addiction, which will be the setting the for intervention work I am carrying out as trainee.
Health psychology interventions marry the knowledge of the mind and body, rather than treating them in isolation. Through this training I have already been designing and preparing the implementation of a cognitive behavioural therapy menopause group, for women that access addiction services. This is especially important as the menopause is a time were women experience higher rates of depression, intimate partner violence and symptoms that are liken to alcohol and opioid withdrawals. All of which can affect the type of treatment received and the amount of support women need from services. Having a health psychologist embedded within an addiction service is important as other team member’s working capacity does not allow them to focus on health psychology, which makes this additional qualification a great resource for interdisciplinary team within addiction services.
VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY WINNER rebecca brione DISCUSSES THEIR ATTENDANCE AT THE "Philosophy of Birth" workshop
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Rebecca Brione did with their award money.
I was thrilled to be able to attend the Philosophy of Birth workshop at the University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht, thanks to a VAMHN bursary. The workshop was given over to examining how we can address and prevent obstetric violence, and promote reproductive justice through a philosophical lens. It provided an opportunity to speak anew with familiar faces and also to meet new academics and practitioners working from innovative theoretical positions and perspectives.
Recognition of obstetric violence is still in its relatively early stages in the UK and Europe, despite both ground-breaking attempts in Latin America to legislate against this pervasive form of gender-based harm, and increasing recognition of the profound impact on birthing people’s mental health of ‘care’ that they experience as violent and violating. When the conjunction of birth care and violence remains contested and controversial, it is so important to be able to meet in person with colleagues tackling similar challenges in different legal, institutional and political contexts. As a PhD student it is always particularly valuable to receive constructive feedback and suggestions for how to develop my work further from those familiar with the context.
Across the day, we discussed the risks of coercion inherent in standardised care pathways & training, conceptualisations of self-sacrificial motherhood and questions of whose voice and knowledge ‘counts’ in accounts of harm and violence. We heard about new obstetric violence data from other jurisdictions and debated the roles of the law & advocacy in responding to gender-based violence. I sought feedback on the content and potential future use of my doctoral work on silencing of birthing people’s “no” in maternity care, and have come away with constructive suggestions to develop it further, new and wonderful contacts, and grand plans for advocacy-supporting work to sit alongside my PhD…watch this space!
VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY WINNER pj annand DISCUSSES their ATTENDANCE AT THE "Domestic Abuse Digital Conference 2022" CONFERENCE
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner PJ Annand did with their award money.
As an early-career researcher working in the field of violence, abuse and mental health, I was thrilled to receive a VAMHN Early Career Bursary to attend the Domestic Abuse Digital Conference 2022. The event brought together a range of speakers and delegates from across the sector to discuss key topics related to domestic abuse, including the implementation of new elements of the Domestic Abuse Act, improving multi-agency responses, and working with and for marginalised and minorities communities.
The conference was chaired by Donna Covey CBE, Chief Executive of AVA (Against Violence and Abuse) and included a range of experts and practitioners from different sectors. These included Roy Wilsher OBE, Lead for Domestic Abuse at HM Inspector of Constabulary and HM Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services, and Georgia Gabriel-Hooper, a domestic violence campaigner with lived experience. There were also representatives from organizations such as NHS England, Stonewater Housing, and Birmingham LGBT.
Attending the conference was an incredibly valuable experience. It provided an opportunity to hear from a range of experts in the field. I was particularly interested in learning about efforts to ensure equal protections and support for migrant survivors, LGBTQ+ survivors, Black and minoritised survivors, Deaf and disabled survivors, and survivors who are neurodiverse. I found discussions on why and how we need to improve the justice system in order to better support survivors through the courts process to be particularly instructive. I was also pleased to see that the conference provided an opportunity to learn from lived experience and hear directly from survivors of domestic abuse.
As such, the VAMHN Early Career Bursary provided me with the opportunity to gain vital insight into a range of experiences across and within services, current policy issues, and proposed strategies for change. In fact, the conference served as inspiration for policy activities I delivered thereafter as part of the CANVAS Project, a study I lead on with colleagues at King’s College London. I believe that attending events like these is crucial for early-career researchers in the sector, as they provide a chance to learn about new developments and best practice, and to connect with – and be inspired by – other professionals working to end domestic abuse.
VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY WINNER rachel whyte DISCUSSES HER ATTENDANCE AT THE "Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Conference 2023 " conference
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Rachel Whyte did with their award money.
I was thrilled to have received the VAMHN ECR bursary to attend the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Conference 2023 in late January. Uniquely, my role as a Researcher in Mental Health, is to work across multiple NIHR funded projects, all of which aim to reduce violence in hospital and community settings using co-produced approaches. My current projects have been pivotal in developing my skills as a researcher; however, they have been focused in my professor’s area of reducing restrictive practices. As an emerging independent researcher, I am committed to pursuing my interest in domestic abuse, mental health and trauma research and attending this conference acted as a catalyst for this transition. Being exposed to the latest knowledge in this area provided me with a springboard for planning my Pre-Doctoral Fellowship application which is due for submission in March 2023 and has a focus on perpetrators of domestic abuse.
The conference highlighted the latest resources, strategies, and policies in place to tackle domestic abuse, including issues exacerbated by the rise in digital crimes. This allowed for the effectiveness of these current strategies to be questioned and the remaining gaps in research/practice to be inferred. This has helped me design a Fellowship topic and proposal that aligns to current Government strategies and is meaningful to current real-world problems as well as considering cultural differences. I am extremely thankful to VAMHN for this opportunity to inform and strengthen my NIHR application.
VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY WINNER lorna hill DISCUSSES HER ATTENDANCE AT THE "Let This Poem Be A Hand Upon Your Shoulder" workshop
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Lorna Hill did with their award money. To find out how you can apply to our ECR Bursary Scheme click here.
I was delighted to receive the VAMHN ECR bursary which enabled me to attend two of Charmaine Pollard’s online poetry therapy workshops.
I am the founder of Sharing A Story CIC, a social enterprise in East Lothian, and for the past few years I have been working on a freelance basis running creative sessions in my local community, with a particular focus on those at risk of social isolation. This has included survivors of domestic abuse, people with mental health conditions, the elderly and people living with dementia. I have really noticed how these groups have been adversely affected by Covid-19 and the impact this has on their mental health.
As a creative facilitator I am keen to support participants in the best way that I can and know the importance of developing my own participatory and professional development too. Charmaine is a leading and respected expert in the field of creative writing for wellbeing and her workshops were encouraging, nurturing and aptly titled: Let This Poem Be A Hand Upon Your Shoulder. It was a gentle reminder to me about the importance of self-care and taking time to develop my own creativity and energise my own facilitation skills ahead of a new project I will soon be leading for Women’s Aid East and Midlothian.
This blog was written by Lisa Ward (VAMHN Lived Experience Coordinator) on the key concepts behind lived experience engagement. To find out more about Lisa you can visit here website here or follow her on Twitter @LisaPinkyWard.
What is lived experience engagement?
Lived experience engagement (sometimes termed expert by experience engagement) is often used as another way to say ‘co-production’, however I’d also argue that sometimes the two are not the same.
Co-production is a term used within the statutory and charitable sector to describe the process of ensuring that the voices of those who will use services, are embedded in the design and delivery of the service. Think Local, Act Personal have a great ladder of co-production which talks through the steps to reach full co-production. It’s worth bearing in mind that whilst good lived experience engagement should be synonymous with co-production, sometimes it can be used to refer to any step on the ladder higher than the informing step.
Lived experience is often used as a way to recognise that knowledge doesn’t just come from academic learning, or from work experience, but also from experiences you have in your life. This knowledge should be seen as equally valuable to the way in which we gain other knowledge, but often it isn’t. A great example of how this plays out is how formal qualifications asked for on a job profile, but rarely is lived knowledge even referenced knowledge.
Often however, people think they’re co-producing when they’re really not. For example if you’ve already set your strategy without involving the voices of those with lived experience, you’re not co-producing. If you’ve decided what service you want to offer (say a support group) and the only say those with lived experience get is on the topics or timing of the group, that’s not co-production. Co-production often means going back to the start, recognising there is a need (for example survivors of sexual violence need support) but then working with those who might need the support to work out what that support looks like (whether it’s a group, one-to-one support, or something else entirely). Equally it means reflecting the voices of those with lived experience at every level in both the big and small decisions.
And why does it matter?
When businesses launch they often undertake market engagement to see what will turn a profit. If they get it right the business succeeds, if they get it wrong it fails. Health and social care is similar, if you create something which meets the needs of those who will use it, it will thrive, if you get it wrong, it won’t be used.
However, lived experience engagement/co-production is also more than this, as it’s about ensuring those with lived experience also deliver services. It’s able seeing lived and learned knowledge as equal, and understanding that embracing those with lived experience can be empowering for people using services (as it enables a sense of hope for people using services) but it’s also empowering for those who are delivering services as lived experience experts (creating an ability for people to feel like they’ve turned a potentially negative situation into a positive one). It also means other staff can learn directly from those with lived experience, and creates a much better equality of power with less hierarchy between roles.
A word of caution
Lived experience engagement/co-production also requires thinking and planning. In my experience people can also be taken advantage of (for example lived experience roles being frequently paid much lower than other staff roles), or it can be done in ways which is tokenistic (for example people are involved but they are only reflective of a certain group or type of person). Good lived experience engagement/co-production takes time and planning to do well and should be an ongoing cycle of learning and adaptation to really be both effective, and fair to those who are involved.
Likewise there’s an assumption that all work should be co-produced, or that consultation doesn’t add value. I’d argue that good lived experience engagement takes account of different wants and needs. For some people, consultation might be what they want to do, and thus is perfectly appropriate. Similarly, co-producing for the sake of co-producing can also be tokenistic, especially if there’s no real benefit to those engaged in the process. This is why good lived experience engagement required proper planning and time.
Original blog posted here on 14th November 2022.
VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY WINNER tina hamilton DISCUSSES HER ATTENDANCE AT the International Conference on Health, Wellness and Society
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Tina Hamilton did with their award money. To find out how you can apply to our ECR Bursary Scheme click here.
Using my VAMHN ECR bursary, I applied and was accepted to deliver a poster presentation at the Twelfth International Conference on Health, Wellness and Society, which took place in Johannesburg in early September 2022. I attended as an online only delegate and found this to be a wonderful opportunity to disseminate my PhD research to a wider international audience without the significant financial implications of attending in person. The theme of this year’s conference was Responding to Pandemics with a whole host of interesting talks from speakers across the globe, who discussed responses to the Pandemic in their respective countries and the actions taken to deal with the crisis. An underlying theme of most talks was the considerable health disparities that exist across most societies and the significance and prevalence of these during the Pandemic. My Poster “Adult Safeguarding Practices in NHS Mental Health Trusts: Challenges for Leadership and Service Provision” was included in the subtheme Public Health Policies and Practices in an online - asynchronous poster session. All-in-all, it was a very enjoyable experience and poster discussions were well facilitated. Online attendance also allowed for flexibility with viewing sessions and talks around other work commitments. My thanks to VAMHN for facilitating this wonderful opportunity.
VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY WINNER Gabrielle beaudry DISCUSSES HER ATTENDANCE AT a training course on clinical Predictions Models
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Gabrielle Beaudry did with their award money. To find out how you can apply to our ECR Bursary Scheme click here.
I was fortunate to attend the course on Clinical Predictions Models from the Department of Epidemiology and Data Science at Amsterdam UMC delivered online by Dr Martijn Heymans on 6, 7 and 8 January 2021. The aim of the course was to provide insight into the development and validation of prognostic and diagnostic prediction models for various clinical outcomes. The course consisted of interactive lectures and computer-based practical work (using R). The main themes were: (1) the development and quality; (2) validation; (3) and updating of prediction models.
More specifically, we discussed various methods for selecting variables, and the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches. We also focused on assessing the quality of the prediction model — in terms of accuracy, discrimination and calibration — following its development. Another key component of the course was external validation, which involves validating the model amongst new patients. Finally, we learned about techniques for updating the prediction model if generalisability problems occur when it is transposed to a new clinical setting.
This course was invaluable for the completion of my DPhil, which focuses on violence risk assessment and prevention of future violence in people released from prison. It provided me with the necessary knowledge and skills to validate an existing model — the Oxford Risk of Recidivism tool (OxRec) — in two different countries (i.e. Tajikistan and the UK). These projects have since been submitted for publication as scientific articles. I am very grateful to the VAMHN for the support they provided me with the Early Career Researchers’ (ECR) Bursary, which enabled me to attend the course.
VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY WINNER Alex Fairnes DISCUSSES their ATTENDANCE AT THE MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Alex Fairnes did with their award money. To find out how you can apply to our ECR Bursary Scheme click here.
I spent one week at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow. My aim was to use the facilities and the contacts to review recent U.K.- focusing literature concerning the impact of exposure to domestic violence on the health and developmental well-being of children and young people.
In my view, this seems to be particular relevant given the evidence of rising domestic violence during the lock-down and the severe impact on youth mental health.
During my stay, I undertook a comprehensive search of identified databases which were developed within an 11-year framework (1995-2006) in the U.K.. Impact was explored across four separate yet inter-related domains (domestic violence exposure and child abuse; impact on parental capacity; impact on child and adolescent development; and exposure to additional adversities), with potential outcomes and key messages concerning best practice responses to children's needs highlighted.
There is compelling evidence that children and adolescents living with domestic violence are at increased risk of experiencing emotional, physical and sexual abuse, of developing emotional and behavioral problems and of increased exposure to the presence of other adversities in their lives. This should inform action towards a range of protective factors that can mitigate against this impact, in particular a strong relationship with and attachment to a caring adult, usually the mother.
Moreover, children and young people may be significantly affected by living with domestic violence, and impact can endure even after measures have been taken to secure their safety. Based on findings of my literature review, there is rarely a direct causal pathway leading to a particular outcome and that children are active in constructing their own social world. Implications for interventions suggest that timely, appropriate and individually tailored responses need to build on the resilient blocks in the child's life.
Given the limited period of my research stay, I am keen to further explore the links between exposure to domestic violence, various forms of child abuse and other related adversities, investigating how such exposure may have a differential yet potentially deleterious impact for children and young people.
From a resilient perspective, I am also interested, in the future, to review the influence of each protective factor regarding the impact of exposure and the subsequent outcomes for the child.
The research stay comes to benefit of me as an independent researcher ad survivors’ community organiser. It definitely strengthened my abilities, skills and network of contacts finds and will hopefully help me contribute to discussions & action plans for a holistic and child-centered approach to service delivery, derived from an informed assessment, designed to capture a picture of the individual child's experience, and responsive to their individual needs.
VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY WINNER Claire cunnington DISCUSSES her ATTENDANCE AT the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse & Neglect conference
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Claire Cunnington did with their award money. To find out how you can apply to our ECR Bursary Scheme click here.
I was really grateful to be awarded the Early Career Researcher grant from VAMHN to attend the 2021 International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse & Neglect (ISPCAN) Milan Virtual Congress. I finished my PhD in May 2020 and afterwards is the perfect time to share your research but as an hourly paid academic that’s not always possible. That’s why the VAMHN grant was so helpful.
My Wellcome Trust funded doctoral research took a salutogenic, strengths-based approach to recovering from childhood sexual abuse (CSA) by asking adults what had helped and hindered their recovery. Salutogenics is about finding out what moves people towards better health, happiness and wellbeing, rather than what causes illness, sadness and lower wellbeing. Whilst the larger field is extensive there is very little about recovery from the perspective of adults who have experienced CSA. To very quickly sum up the research results - what helped recovering were good, safe relationships and activities that cause a flow state. What hindered was people who minimised the abuse, denied the victim and in general were not supportive. My paper at ISPCAN argued that responses to abuse disclosure can utilise the same neutralisation techniques adopted by perpetrators.
Presenting at the conference gave me an invaluable opportunity to share my research, increase my skills and keep up with research in the wider field. It also made me consider further how to challenge these neutralising responses and I am currently working on a short film to improve responses to disclosure in the NHS. I am so grateful to VAMHM for the funding.
In 2021 the VAMHN funded a project as part of its understanding stream which was led by Dr Rachel Latham at King's College London. The project was about "Understanding the impact of micro- and macro-level violence during adolescence on mental health at the transition to adulthood". The study examined how adolescents’ experiences of violence and neighbourhood disorder (e.g., vandalism and muggings) affects their mental health as they move into adulthood.
Saffron, Bianca and Alysha are the peer researchers who worked on the project and have written an insightful blog on what their experiences were like as experts by experience who were integral to the running of the project. This blog highlights the importance of centering the voices of people with lived experience in research.
To read the full blog click here.
VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY WINNER murylo batista DISCUSSES tHEiR ATTENDANCE AT a training course on sequence analysis for the social sciences
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Murylo Batista did with their award money. To find out how you can apply to our ECR Bursary Scheme click here.
Thanks to the VAMHN, on 21-22 January 2022, I was given the opportunity to attend a training on sequence analysis for the social sciences delivered through the National Centre for Research Methods and taught by Professor Nicola Barban from the University of Bologna. Sequence analysis originated in computational biology to study and compare DNA sequences and has been readily adapted by social scientists to study events in the life course. My research questions lie in the application of life course approaches to understanding the dynamics of violence against women and children. VAWC can occur at any age but also vary by age, whereby differences in experiences during early life can be associated with health outcomes in later life.
As an early career demographer working in social services for missing and exploited children, I am interested in how population health sciences could generate new insights for safeguarding strategies that are typically more attuned to individual case work. For example, let us say a child went missing (M) in June and July but was at home (H) for the other months in an annual period. We can use sequence analysis to represent the missing episode like this: HHHHHMMHHHHHH. Then, another child went missing in September through November: HHHHHHHHMMMH. We go on to analyse these patterns using the mathematical properties underlying the positions (first, second, third, etc.…) of both states in the sequence (at home or missing). We can compare the missing trajectories of young people based on individual characteristics, safeguarding concerns, and health outcomes. The NCRM training on sequence analysis demonstrated that applying demography and life course perspectives to violence and abuse can lead us to new research questions for social services.