Keynotes and plenary players

Young person presenting at the Headstart Resilience Revolution event  Young person presenting at the Headstart Resilience Revolution event

The conference will provide a unique and energetic learning space, with young people, academics, parents/carers, practitioners, researchers and community members all coming together to learn from one another. Members of the Resilience Revolution, including young people, parents and carers, are co-designing and co-facilitating the event. They are eager to share their expertise with the world; from expressing stories of hope to challenging inequalities within systems.

Just like the whole town approach to resilience in Blackpool, everybody involved in development will have a role in making the conference a positive, innovative and exciting event to be part of. An exciting and informative combination of research, practice-based evidence and lived experience will have the schedule packed with insightful keynotes, co-delivered workshops and activities all linked to resilience approaches.


Keynotes / plenary players biographies

Below are biographies of some of our fantastic keynotes, and the discussants who will be responding to the speakers, exploring the ideas presented and asking the All Important Questions. If you would like to see what they will be discussing, take a look at the keynote summaries page. Our line-up was put together for the postponed 2020 conference and may be subject to change, but we’re hoping that all our fantastic speakers will still be able to join us.


Photo of Grace Nichols smiling at the camera wearing glasses

Grace Nichols was born in Guyana but has lived in Britain since 1977. She has written many books for both adults and children and has won several awards for her poetry including the 1983 Commonwealth Poetry Prize for her first collection; I is a long-memoried Woman, the Guyana Poetry Prize for, Sunris as well as the 2001 Cholmondeley Award for her work. Her collections for children include: Come On Into My Tropical Garden, The Poet Cat, Everybody Got A Gift and more recently, Cosmic Disco. She was poet-in-residence at the Tate Gallery, London 1999-2000 which inspired her, Picasso, I Want My Face Back published by Bloodaxe Books, who also brought out her selected poems, I Have Crossed an Ocean and her latest, The Insomnia Poems (2017). She is among the poets studied on the GCSE syllabus. Her new collection; Passport to Here and There is due out by Bloodaxe early next year.


Photo of Ora Prilleltensky

Dr Ora Prilleltensky is an engaging and interactive speaker. Her interests include well-being, change, and disability, leading her to co-write several books: The Laughing Guide to Change, The Laughing Guide to a Better Life, Promoting Well-Being, and Motherhood and Disability: Children and Choices. She has a doctorate in Counselling Psychology from the University of Toronto, and she is the former Director of Human and Social Development at the University of Miami, teaching various graduate and undergraduate courses. She’s also worked in lots of different settings, including a child guidance clinic, a university counselling centre and a rehabilitation hospital. She has a disability and uses a motorised wheelchair. See Ora’s keynote summary.


Photo of John Agard looking to the left, hand near faceGuyana-born British poet, John Agard, has published many collections of poetry for children and adults. He has performed his work all over Britain and at festivals internationally. In 2012 he was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. Other awards include the Cuban Casa de las Americas Poetry Prize; the Guyana prize; the Paul Hamlyn award; the Eleanor Farjeon award; the CLPE Poetry Prize (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education). His latest collection is The Coming of the Little Green Man by Bloodaxe Books who also published his other adult collections. Agard’s work is studied by teenagers for the current GCSE syllabus.

Fellow poet, Ben Wilkinson, says: “A unique and energetic force in contemporary British poetry, John Agard’s poems combine acute social observation, puckish wit and a riotous imagination to thrilling effect.”


Photo of Shahnaz Biggs wearing a silver jacket

Shahnaz Biggs is someone who lives “beating the odds, whilst changing the odds”. She has been involved in supporting the Resilience Revolution since 2016 and, as a Research Assistant, took notes at the first training session for partners across Blackpool. Naz started volunteering with Boingboing during her master’s at Manchester Uni. Naz loved volunteering and felt privileged to have such a supportive bunch of people around her. She was inspired to research whether other organisations work the way Boingboing does – this is what her PhD is interested in. Naz has many personal complexities in her life, so studying has been challenging at times. Naz gets excited about how best to support social-ecological aspects of resilience. This is partly as a result of personal experience, including being born in a particular place at a particular time, and partly because of her intellectual fascinations. See Naz’s pre-conference workshop summary.


Photo of Angie Hart in hat and glasses on the left with Claire Stubbs

Professor Angie Hart is an academic and practitioner passionate about co-productive resilience research and practice, working with and alongside children, young people, families and adults failed by wider systems. She comes from a disadvantaged background herself and is also the adoptive parent of three children with complex needs adopted from foster care. Angie supports young people, students and community partners to be co-researchers, and to co-organise this conference. She co-leads the development of the ‘whole town’ Resilience Revolution approach in Blackpool, which puts young people at the heart of things. A Professor at the University of Brighton, Director of the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice and Director of Boingboing, Angie might sound a bit scary on paper, but she is really down to earth and loves to work creatively across all kinds of boundaries. Check her out on TEDx. See Angie’s pre-conference workshop summaries for the morning and afternoon.


Photo of Netsai Gwata striking a pose for the camera in an outdoor settingNetsai Gwata is a young Educational Psychologist working and living in South Africa. Her ancestral roots are in Zimbabwe. Her childhood years in Zimbabwe are part of the reason why she understands resilience – and the importance of social change to child and youth resilience – as well as she does. Her extended family is characterised by resilient women (all of whom speak Shona) and this inspired Netsai to start a blog about resilient women and Shona people’s ways of enabling resilience. Her blog starts with the words: “The storm has the power to uproot the tree. But no matter how strong the storm rages, it will never uproot the grass. Though I may be small and look insignificant, I am very strong. No matter how hard you trample, fresh again I will rise from the ground with the first rains to fall in the dust. For I am a symbol of resilience. I am a woman, I am black, I am a black resilient woman.”

Netsai’s interest in resilience is not just personal. As part of her Master’s degree in Educational Psychology she worked in the GCRF-funded and Angie Hart-led study entitled ‘Patterns of resilience among young people in a community affected by drought: Historical and contextual perspectives’. Her mini-dissertation, which focused specifically on the resilience of young adults affected by drought in a community in an impoverished province in South Africa, was completed in record time. She is currently enrolled for a PhD that will used mixed methods to investigate how young adults in an industrialised, impoverished community avoid poor mental health. Her PhD is being co-promoted by Linda Theron and Michael Ungar. In her everyday work as an educational psychologist she uses what she has learnt and is learning to champion the resilience of young people made vulnerable by the widespread sub-Saharan reality of social injustice.


Photo of Laura Zakubinska waving foam Resilience Revolution foam hands

Laura Zakubinska is one of the HeadStart team apprentices involved in the Resilience Revolution in Blackpool. It’s her job to ensure that the administration and organisation of Resilience Revolutionary activity runs smoothly. She settled in Blackpool from Poland when she was 8 years old and is bi-lingual; this skill has enabled her to support young Polish speakers to engage fully in the Resilience Revolution by translating material and offering 1-1 support in school. She has had a wonderful couple of years in her apprenticeship, and is proud to be a member of the HeadStart team. Laura’s role at the International Resilience Revolution Conference 2020 is as a co–planner and co-leader. She will also be ensuring the smooth planning and preparation of the conference, as well as dealing with any trouble-shooting during the conference. See Laura’s pre-conference workshop summary.

Laura says: “I’m really excited to hear about different concepts of resilience and connecting with speakers and organisers to open up new opportunities. I would also like to see what international delegates think of our whole town resilience approach when they see it in action. I’m looking forward to connecting and networking with speakers and delegates and seeing how we all learn from each other. I hope the International Resilience Revolution Conference is also as accessible and positive as possible for all.”


Photo of Sue White smiling at the camera

Professor Sue White grew up in Cleveleys so knows Blackpool well! She is Professor of Social Work at the University of Sheffield, and before becoming an academic, Sue worked as a practitioner and manager in Children’s services for over a decade. Since becoming a full time academic in 1995, her research has focused on analysing professional practice and decision-making in child health and welfare. She is currently conducting research on how simplified readings of science have tended to lead services to screen families for future risk of harm, and intervene quickly to change parenting behaviours, often at the expense of sustained help. Alternative ways of providing help would attend to building community resilience and strengthening families.


Head and shoulders photo of Lyn Cole smiling at the cameraLyn Cole’s mission in life is to enable individuals and communities to unlock their passion and potential to achieve overall business and personal success. She’s passionate about addressing inequality in every shape, working in a strength-based and collaborative manner. Lyn is a qualified leadership coach and experienced Director, with a successful track record of delivering high volume and high impact programmes/projects, working with large, multi-site and multi-functional teams. She is Deputy Chair, Appointments Committee of the General Pharmaceutical Council and Non-Executive Director at the South Tyneside & Sunderland NHS Trust.

Until 2016, Lyn was England Director at the then Big Lottery Fund, with overall responsibility for the HeadStart programme. She visited Blackpool in 2018 to witness the Resilience Revolution in action. Lyn says, “I am very excited to join the International Resilience Revolution Conference to learn even more about all the brilliant work that has been happening”.

Photo of Isaac Prilleltensky

Professor Isaac Prilleltensky combines being an academic, psychologist, and writer in his approach to well-being, mattering, and organisational culture, and enjoys making people laugh. If you need to look up “mattering”, here is Isaac at the World Happiness Summit. He was born in Argentina and has lived and worked in Israel, Canada, Australia and the United States. His most recent books include The Laughing Guide to Well-Being, The Laughing Guide to Change, and The Laughing Guide to a Better Life, and he also writes oodles of scholarly papers, if that’s more up your street. He is the former dean of the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Miami, where he currently serves as Professor of Educational and Psychological Studies and Vice Provost for Institutional Culture. See Isaac’s keynote summary.


A group of people in a train station with suitcases, Sophie is circled

Sophie Halas is an Ambassador for Arts Connect (part of Culture Shift) which works across Sussex to reduce social isolation of people with learning disabilities through opportunities to participate in arts based activities. She has been one of eight co-researchers in a PhD study by Anne Rathbone on resilience, and has helped to produce learning on the disabling barriers faced by people with learning disabilities, what can help to promote resilience and the value of co-produced research for individual benefit and social change. You can find out more about the Arts Connect Ambassadors in this short film. See Sophie’s keynote summary.


Head and shoulders photo of Lisa Day wearing glasses and smiling at the camera; Lisa has dark hairLisa Day is a Co-Leader of Blackpool’s Resilience Revolution and her role is Parental Sessional Worker. She supports and participates in core groups with parents and carers to capture the views and experiences of children, parents and families, to ensure fairness and inclusivity in services. She supports the HeadStart team in delivery of training, events and presentations and has co-produced a number of resources, including The Resilience Framework, A Family Version. She is part of the co-production group for Blackpool Children’s Services to create a new Module of Practice.

Lisa says: “I am a mother to three beautiful children, who didn’t arrive with their own handbooks 😮 From what I have experienced, I’ve seen the importance of resilience and I felt the need to help other families, young people and the community in any way possible to build resilience.”


Head and shoulders photo of Sam RichardsonSam Richardson is a Youth Worker for the HeadStart Blackpool programme. He was born in Blackpool and has lived there for most of his life, leaving only to study and then coming back to find work. He is really proud to be from Blackpool because although it has its challenges, he is part of a community working to make the town a better place to live for everyone. Find out more in Once upon a time – A Blackpool story. See Sam’s keynote summary.

Sam says: “I am really proud to be given the opportunity to co-deliver a keynote speech in my home town as part of the International Resilience Revolution Conference in 2020. I am really hopeful that in their short time here, those visiting the town for the Conference will see the potential that Blackpool has and that they will be impressed with our aim of establishing a whole town approach to building resilience.”


Photo of Etienne Wenger-Trayner

Professor Etienne Wenger-Trayner is a social learning theorist and practitioner. “What is that?” you might ask. Developing resilience in our communities is an excellent example of the kind of collective endeavour that requires a social learning approach. Etienne says he is proud to contribute to the Blackpool HeadStart project, and to see his and Bev’s value-creation framework for social learning used as a key tool in the development of a whole-town approach. Learn more about Etienne’s approach by watching him in action. See Etienne’s keynote summary.





Pre-conference workshop biographies

Below are biographies of some of our pre-conference workshops facilitators who are offering exciting opportunities to learn and develop practical skills relevant to the design, delivery and evaluation of co-produced and resilience related events, interventions and research projects.


Photo of Buket Kara leaning on a stone balcony

Buket Kara is a Research Fellow at the School of Health Sciences, University of Brighton, where she is currently evaluating the HeadStart programme in Blackpool. Her research interests include individual, familial and contextual risk and protective factors for children’s development and well-being, and evidence-based intervention programs and policies to promote resilience in youth at risk. Buket’s PhD focused on the development and well-being of youth living in a low-intensity armed conflict zone.

Buket has been volunteering in humanitarian projects with disadvantaged groups since her undergraduate years. She is a member of the Association of Psychologists for Social Solidarity, and Free Colors LGBTI Association in Turkey, involved in projects include acting in solidarity with oppressed people in society, organising workshops about social equality, campaigns against hate speech and discrimination towards minorities, and about violence against women. She is also a volunteer for Boingboing. See Buket’s workshop summary.


Photo of Rochelle Morris outside by a river, bridge and trees

Rochelle Morris works in HeadStart Blackpool’s research team, looking at different ways that resilience and social justice theories influence training and development in local government and community organisations. Rochelle is passionate about supporting and enabling young people to cope with transitional periods; new schools, new homes and new opportunities. She is proud to be an Independent Visitor for one of ‘Our Children’, the name given to young people in the care of Blackpool Local Authority. Rochelle also supports the Revolution Researchers – a co-production group of mixed ages that work together to understand and challenge some of the complex issues facing Blackpool and its young people. Rochelle has previously worked in Higher Education across North West UK, as a pastoral welfare officer, academic development tutor and an employability adviser. See Rochelle’s workshop summary.

Rochelle says: “I am really looking forward to hearing from lots of different community organisations and hearing about resilience research and practice from young people.”


Photo of Phil Haynes

Professor Phil Haynes used to work as a social worker and probation officer, specialising in substance misuse, and is now Professor of Public Policy at the University of Brighton. He wants to understand public policy systems, seeing them as complex, unpredictable and challenging systems, and thinking about what this means for leadership, management and research. His work has included projects focused on local government, older people, housing, mental health, substance misuse and the wider economy and its effect on the public. He is interested in international comparisons, as we can always learn from other countries and governments. See Phil’s workshop summary.


Photo of Alice Brown sat in a swinging chair

Alice Brown works in the Research Team at HeadStart Blackpool. As well as helping with the wider programme evaluation, she also leads on researching the impact of the Youth Engagement and Co-Production strand. Additionally, she supports the Revolution Researchers, a co-production group where young people work together to carry out research tasks on behalf of the Resilience Revolution. When she is not working, Alice enjoys playing tennis, volunteering for a mental health helpline, and fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. See Alice’s workshop summary.


Photo of Elle Barnett stood at a table in front of a projector screen

Elle Barnett is a Research Apprentice within the HeadStart Programme, studying Business Administration Level 3. She has previously completed Business Administration Level 2 working for the NHS. She has a keen interest in working with young people and learning more about mental health. Elle enjoys inputting data, attending meetings and presenting at conferences. When she is not working she enjoys going to the gym and volunteering for the RSPCA. Elle is really proud to be working within the Resilience Revolution and helping make the town a better place. See Elle’s workshop summary.


Head and shoulders photo of Mirika Flegg

Mirika Flegg has over fifteen years of experience as a researcher, educator and program developer working with young people and those experiencing ill health in the UK, New Zealand and Canada. She was awarded the University of Brighton Excellence in Community Engagement Award (2016) for her collaborative work with those experiencing health challenges. She was awarded a Hero’s Medal (2011) from the New Zealand Government for developing a youth-for-youth employment model still used today. Her work with Aboriginal people in Canada produced culturally-specific training programs for foster parents and improved supports for young people in government care. Mirika draws from her lived-experiences, professional training in psychology, learning and teaching, human resources and research to improve communication between communities, commissioners and health services. Mirika uses her artistic skills to broaden engagement and help communities develop sustainable resources that work for them. See Mirika’s workshop summary.

Mirika says: “As a tri-national, and a person experiencing disabilities, I feel working co-productively is one way to include knowledges that are often excluded from traditional research practices. So I am excited to be part of a co-produced conference.”


Photo of Viktoria Erlacher

Viktoria Erlacher is a PhD student at the University of Brighton’s Centre of Resilience for Social Justice and a Boingboing volunteer. She is interested in resilience within the climate-crisis context. Her MSc explored barriers and motivations to participating in environmental community projects, the role of social capital and community resilience, and connections between social and environmental resilience. She is now working on a climate crisis study co-produced with HeadStart Blackpool young people. The aim is to add to existing resilience resources from an environmental angle. Viktoria has put all this experience to good use planning the environmental aspects of the conference. See Viktoria’s workshop summary.


Photo of Caroline Hudson outside by a road and trees

Caroline Hudson‘s expertise is in supporting health care professionals’ resilience in difficult times, and particularly during role transitions across the career trajectory. Caroline is Senior Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Brighton and leads the curriculum development strand for the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice. Her current doctoral thesis aims to create an evidence based resilience model that contributes to role resilience during professional transitions. She is part of a large group of PhD students working on resilience and inequalities that actively engage in group and peer supervision. See Caroline’s workshop summary.


Photo of Rosie Gordon looking at the camera, with long hair, wearing glasses

Rosie Gordon is a PhD student working with HeadStart’s Research and Evaluation Team to evidence the effectiveness and sustainability of the Resilience Revolution. She is proud to say that she went to school in Blackpool; now, she wants to be able to give back to the town that nurtured her love for learning. She is the Student Representative for the International Resilience Revolution Conference. See Rosie’s workshop summary.

Rose says: “I am hoping to find exciting ways for students at all stages of their academic journey to engage with and learn from members of the community and each other.”


Photo of Pauline Wigglesworth in the rain wearing a HeadStart Blackpool sweatshirt

Originally an artist, Pauline Wigglesworth is passionate about co-productive, resilience research and practice by, with and for young people and their carers. She has a background as a public sector manager working in substance misuse. For the past 4 years, she has been co-leading the Resilience Revolution. Her specific role is to head up the co-productive, resilience-based whole town approach to supporting young people’s mental health which is being pioneered in Blackpool through HeadStart funding from the National Lottery Community Fund. See Pauline’s workshop summary.


Head and shoulders photo of Anne Rathbone looking at the camera in front of an illustration of the Blackpool tower; Anne has blonde hair. Photo by Mikey.

Anne Rathbone has a youth and community development background originally, and has worked for more than 25 years across a range of Local Authorities in commissioning and strategic development. This sounds a bit dry but her work has always had a co-produced activist twist, including award winning projects in young people’s community action and youth-led commissioning. Not surprisingly, then, Anne’s PhD research project was a co-led inquiry into resilience with people with learning disabilities, through a great project – Arts Connect (part of Culture Shift). Through her PhD, she has developed a nerdy interest into co-produced research methods and how they can play their part in turning marginalisation into belonging and community activism. There is learning in this for community based co-production practice as well, which she is keen to feed back in. See Anne’s workshop summary.

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