Publication cover with jigsaw motif. Reads Community-university partnerships in practice Edited by Angie Hart, Elizabeth Maddison and David WolffThe Centre of Resilience for Social Justice brokers and sustains challenging, complex and mutually beneficial community-university co-researcher collaborations. Affecting policy change is at the core of our research strategy, making maximum impact from the simultaneous mobilisation of knowledge, enterprise and activism.

See our list of featured projects from the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice.

The co-productive basis to all our work means that centre members are regularly invited to give public lectures, media appearances, training and workshops to non-governmental organisations, government and other policy makers to promote the potential of existing research and co-develop further projects.

Members have developed a unique social enterprise and network, Boingboing, which acts as our main pathway to impact. We excel at brokering and sustaining challenging, complex and mutually beneficial community-university co-researcher collaborations.

We construct resilience as ‘overcoming adversity, whilst also potentially changing, or even dramatically transforming, (aspects of) that adversity.’
– Angie Hart, Emily Gagnon, Suna Eryigit-Madzwamuse, Josh Cameron, Kay Aranda, Anne Rathbone and Becky Heaver (2016) Uniting Resilience Research and Practice With an Inequalities Approach

Our commitment to impactful practice

Our commitment is to developing research, entrepreneurial practice and impacts which improve the world by addressing health, social and ecological inequalities and challenges. Centre members openly acknowledge that there are diverse interpretations of the concept of resilience. We harness this tension as a creative and stimulating force and, as a centre, propose systems-based resilience which involves internal and external factors that contribute to an individual’s or community’s capacity to positively respond to adversity. Resilience is only meaningful if understood as relating to a whole ecological or financial system.

Affecting policy change is key for us, for example influencing NHS England to ensure that the resilience approaches they promote adopt our inequalities perspectives.

Our practical wisdom has more impact when it mobilises knowledge, enterprise and activism simultaneously from this wide disciplinary and experiential knowledge base. We seek to develop, test and improve resilience-based practices tackling inequalities, and to provide capacity building opportunities for disadvantaged citizens and those who support them.

Defining and measuring resilience

Resilience is best recognised as the end state of a successful negotiation of adversity based on both adaptive characteristics of the individual and the supporting environment. Measuring resilience directly has been seen by many leading resilience researchers as a very complicated task. However, measuring the positive attributes of the individual and the supporting environment is possible, and several researchers have developed measures of protective factors that show promise.

Our colleague at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Odin Hjemdal, has spent the last 10 years developing two resilience measures, one for adults (Resilience Scale for Adults; RSA) and one for young people (Resilience Scale for Adolescents; READ). These measures draw on the large base of results from resilience research and measure both individual positive attributes like: personal competences and attribution styles, social competences, goal orientation, self-efficacy and realistic optimistic views on the future as well as adaptive family environment and positive social resources outside the family. He is working with us to explore ways of measuring levels of protection in the disadvantaged children and families we work with.

Resilient Therapy

Collaborative research with practitioners’ parents and young people led to the development of Resilient Therapy (RT) – an approach to building resilience in disadvantaged families. The RT model has been adopted by 10 local authorities in England as well as local and national charities as part of their service provision.

The RT approach has had international impact and has changed the design, delivery and evaluation of services for young people and families in Crete and Sweden. Curriculum changes have been implemented on university courses in Germany, and Hart has developed a new way of supporting disadvantaged children in Greece.

RT has been commended by the Chief Medical Officer (UK) for its contribution in supporting children. Over 120 community partners and service users were closely involved in the co-production of the research and for many of them this changed their roles in the community as they were central to the production and use of tailored training materials self-help guides and courses.

The Facilitated Academic Resilience Approach (F-ARA)

The Facilitated Academic Resilience Approach (F-ARA) is a partnership between academics, policy makers, practitioners, parents/carers and young people. F-ARA aims to build personal and collective resilience in schools through involving all members of the school community in recognising and tackling inequalities and promoting mental health.

An offshoot of the web-based ARA (Academic Resilience Approach), F-ARA is a free resource for schools developed with schools, funded by the Department of Education. F-ARA is changing the odds for children and young people across the school community. Evaluated pilots have reported success in 35 schools to date, and the intervention requires evaluating to see if it works beyond these pilot areas.

Schools and children’s mental health commissioners are asking for increasing numbers of F-ARA interventions, with 10 local authorities having had support so far and over 100 schools involved. Evaluations suggest that the resource supports schools to help the most disadvantaged children and build resilience across the school community. National charity YoungMinds have implemented the ARA through their national training programme.

The Resilient Therapy (RT) Learning Programme is delivered regularly to practitioners and students, with two accredited resilience courses at the University of Brighton with undergraduate and Masters students from Newham and Blackpool. The team is part of a funded implementation of ARA, RT, and another innovation ‘Friend for Life’ (Hart), across the entire town of Blackpool, involving all statutory practitioners in health and social care, education, and young people themselves. This has created 12 jobs in Blackpool, one of the most deprived parts of the UK, and two full-time PhD students based at Brighton.

Our research output from the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice

Details of research publications and other outputs fostered by the CRSJ and achieved by its members, along with funded projects delivered by the Centre, can be accessed on the database of research. You can also read our list of featured projects from the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice.