Wellbeing and Resilient Communities

Social Inclusion Hands

Wellbeing and sustainable resilient communities are two key academic themes for us within the School of Social Justice and Inclusion and within the Yr Athrofa: Institute of Education.

Central to the promotion of social justice and equal opportunities for all is the role of research, practice and wider debates in relation to wellbeing and the building of sustainable and resilient communities.

The aim for our research is to have a positive impact on the communities that make up our society and those who live in them.

The School of Social Justice and Inclusion (SSJI) offers a diverse academic profile which includes:

  • Advocacy
  • Counselling Skills and Practice
  • Education Studies (Primary and Communities)
  • Health and Well-being in the Workplace/Health and Well-being for Carers
  • Social Studies (Additional Needs; Health and Social Care Communities: Families and Individuals; Advocacy)
  • Advocacy
  • Wellbeing of Young People:  Youth Work - Informal Non-Formal education

Staff are all practitioners who draw on their diverse areas of knowledge and expertise to provide opportunities to contribute to research, practice and debates across a broad range of sectors but which are underpinned by a strong set of values in relation to social justice.

Research activity within the SSJI is identified as:

  • Funded research  and evaluation 
  • Research informed teaching
  • Development of a vibrant postgraduate research environment

Current Research

Click on the headings to find out more.

The Spectrum project was established by Hafan Cymru in order to:

“Work with young people in Wales, primarily in a school setting, to raise awareness of domestic abuse and its effects on children and young people, and to provide young people with the information they need to seek help should they experience domestic abuse”. (Hafan Cymru 2016)

Over a period of three years the delivery of the Spectrum project within schools across Wales  was evaluated through utilising a mixed methodology and engaging multiple-perspectives. Qualitative data collection with school staff, children and young people  and pre and post evaluation questionnaires  have provided significant evidence to suggest the positive impact  of the training and also the continued development of the training resources. 

  • Evaluation reports and conference papers:
    • Evaluation Report Year 1
    • Evaluation Report year 2
    • BERA Paper (3)
    • Wiserd paper (4)

‘Let’s Get Serious about Psychological Therapies’, is a new Hafal initiative to promote access to talking therapies for people in Wales with a serious mental illness. It is a big Lottery funded project. The projects aims are:

“…to promote and raise awareness about evidence-based talking therapies and interventions for people in Wales with a serious mental illness. Activities and Services will include the development of user-friendly guides about therapies, the creation of dedicated web pages, a training programme for staff and interested groups, and the provision of feedback to Local Health Boards about the therapies they provide.  The initiative will also scope and map service availability across Wales, as well as collating, processing and analysing data to improve regional and Wales-wide understanding of talking therapies” (Hafal, 2016).

UWTSD  will support Hafal  as an evaluation partner  in strengthening their  commitment to critically assess the work of ‘Let’s Get Serious about Psychological Therapies’ and provide evidence to support its impact and continued sustainability,

A final evaluation report will be published as well as an academic paper.

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David are providing Welsh Government supported training to enable those who work with children and young people  across 9 work force sectors  to have the knowledge and understanding required to ensure that the principals of the UNCRC are integrated into their practices. This is a three year project and we are currently in year 2.

An evaluation of the training aims to ascertain

  • An increased awareness of the UNCRC and children’s rights in Wales.
  • An increased understanding of how these work force sectors can impact and enable children’s rights.

An evaluation of year 1 which focused on the training with the following sectors: child care, education and social care has identified that of the 310 participants:

  • 88% felt that the training was of an excellent and very good standard and 11% felt it was a good standard.
  • The majority of participants found the training to be valuable and the initial feedback demonstrates that knowledge and understanding of the UNCRC has increased and there was a clear desire to implement the knowledge into their practice as well as share it with their colleagues—children and young people.
  • A follow up evaluation to measure the impact of the training will also be carried out.

Evaluation report Year 1 : (4) 

PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions), is currently being piloted in the School of Social Justice and Inclusion, more specifically it is being offered to all first year MSoc/BA Social Studies students. Early indications are, that around 25% of Level 4 students are attending the sessions regularly and informal feedback has been all but positive.

The research is carried out on one of the enhancement themes around student retention and attainment. The enhancement theme has student engagement at its heart and hence a large part of the project implementation and consequent research will be carried out by a group of students currently studying at Level 5 on the MSoc/BA Social Studies course. These students take on multiple roles: as students, as PASS mentors, and as researchers.

The first phase of this research project aims to address the following questions:

  • What impact does the PASS scheme have both on mentors and mentees?
  • What areas of good practice for implementation can be identified? Which areas could be developed? 

The second phase (2017/2018) – a future research project will investigate sustainability and good practice in the second year, when possibly some of this year’s mentees will have become mentors.

Research shows that participants undertaking the PASS programme achieve higher grades, are less likely to drop out and are more likely to develop transferable skills that are sought after by employers (Fostler, Carey, 2007). This is one Facebook message the mentors received: 

'Just thought I'd let you know that I've been coming to these PASS sessions and that they have been a fantastic help. Thank you so much for yours and the other girls' work xxxx.' (current first year BA Social Studies student, 2016)

Whilst it could be perceived that the main beneficiaries of the implementation of a PASS programme are firstly the mentees, and secondly the mentors, there is significant evidence (Donelan and Kay (1998), Coe et al (1999), Garside et al (2006) cited in Odey, Cary, 2009) to suggest that the benefits reach much further than this initial ‘target’ group.

  • A report will be produced by April 2017 in time for the last 'enhancement theme' meeting at UWTSD.
  • We will be working with students to write up the findings for the UWTSD Student Researcher Journal. 

The Welsh Government (2009) is committed to supporting applicants from non-traditional and widening access backgrounds enter university in Wales. Higher Education Institutions in Wales are responding to this agenda through focusing, not on just applications numbers, but also on ensuring the retention and progression of students once at university (HEfCW, 2015). The Welsh Government when considering the retention and progression of students is most concerned with those applicants from the most socially disadvantaged backgrounds. Such students are likely to enter university with lower or no qualifications or from a range of disadvantaged groups (Croll and Attwood, 2013). Wales has a higher proportion of applicants from underrepresented groups with 13% coming from lower participation communities and up to 20% of fulltime undergraduates being mature students (Universities Wales, 2016). Thus, university are now focusing on those entering straight from school; in addition, those who are considered ‘second chance’ mature students as well as ‘young ‘non-traditional’ students. This increase in non-traditional students has also required a different type of support mechanise to ensure not only retention but also progression within HE. This research aims to explore the ‘lived experience’ of current student’s studying a Social Studies Degree who are drawn increasingly from non-traditional and mature applicant base.

The purpose of this research is to explore ‘what works’ in regard to retention and progression of non-traditional students on the MSocStud/BA Social Studies Programmes. The MSocStud and BA Social Studies degrees draws from a wide range of student backgrounds which include ex-offenders, ex-homeless, ex-children leaving care, single parents and mature students with no formal qualifications. The exit velocity of these students are a credit to the individuals on the programme who face a range of challenges; this project would give time to explore what the programme adds to their lives and outline what could be changed to further support retention and complete for hard to reach an ‘at risk groups’.

This research will focus on those students who do not come directly from school or who are ‘non-traditional’ and are currently on a range of programmes within the School of Social Justice and Inclusion. Through participatory research, the following questions will be explored:

  • Why did you choose this programme?
  • What are the challenges of attending university?
  • What support have you found most effective in continuing your educational journey?
  • What would you like to see to support your learning journey at university?
  • How, if at all, has the programme supported your employability skills?
  • What would you say to a potential applicant for the programme and why?
  • What influence, if any, has this ‘learning journey’ made in your life both academically and personally?


The research will be presented at : BSA Annual Conference 2017 | 04/04/2017 - 06/04/2017

The theme for the 2017 BSA Annual Conference is - Recovering the Social: Personal Troubles and Public Issues. The conference will take place at the University of Manchester from 4-6 April 2017.

Lohmann-Hancock, C & Morgan, P (2017) Non-Traditional HE Students, Personal Identities and Life-Course-Trajectories, Paper accepted for BSA Annual Conference 2017, Manchester University.

A pilot scheme is being trialled within the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon to explore and support transitioning from disparate congregations, traditionally served by individual clergy, to a conglomeration of these into Ministry Areas peopled by a Ministry Team made up of both clergy and laity.

The vision of the Diocese is to “establish realistic plans” (Planning for Growth in your Church) to grow the Church within a new structure. The purpose of the facilitation was to provide feedback to the clergy of the Ministry Area Team of Penderry from information gathered during a series of group discussions by members of the three congregations involved in the pilot scheme, facilitated by two independent professionals from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. The structure of the sessions were based on resources provided by the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon for exploring the vision and structure of Ministry Areas by focusing on the areas of ‘Gathering’, ‘Growing’ and ‘Going’.

A full report will be published in 2017

The aims of this project are:

1. To document the impact of the Foundation degrees  (FD) offered by UWTSD for Teaching Assistants (TA) (and other school support staff).

a. as a means of widening access to HE for non-traditional students and...
b. as a vehicle for promoting subsequent attainment both academically (beyond the FD) and professionally (in education settings).

2. to identify factors which promote retention to the FD programmes, as well as potential obstacles to retention/attainment

UWTSD has offered part-time FD programmes for TAs from Carmarthen and Swansea for the past 12-13 years, enrolling non-traditional students who largely have only vocational qualifications and who work full-time while studying. The demands of the programme are significant as they juggle family, work responsibilities and the rigours of study at HE – a challenge they generally face with considerable trepidation and low self-confidence. However, hundreds of students have graduated from these programmes, which have recruited steadily across south/west Wales each year, and many graduates continue their studies and achieve a BA degree (through top-up programmes at UWTSD and elsewhere); a small number use this as a route into ITET programmes. Anecdotal evidence suggests that those who do not pursue further study nevertheless ‘progress’ in their workplace as they are entrusted with increased responsibilities. Retention on the FD programmes has been high; few students exit without the full FD or the alternative Cert HE.

Publications and conference presentations are in progress.

Postgraduate Research

We have a thriving and growing postgraduate environment:  

PhD research themes include:

  • Wellbeing and young people
  • Experiences of migrant’s
  • Family violence, child development and attachment
  • Work-based learning research
  • Impacts of rurality on young people NEET
  • Participatory Research with Young People
  • Community Profiles and assessments to promote sustainable communities
  • Youth Work and Youth Services
  • Equality and Diversity
  • Social Studies
  • Counselling and Psychotherapy  

MA research themes include:

  • Participatory Research with Young People
  • Community Profiles and assessments to promote sustainable communities
  • Youth Work and Youth Services
  • Equality and Diversity
  • Social Studies
  • Counselling and Psychotherapy  
  • Education Studies
  • Teaching Assistants

Links: Resources

Resources developed for wider community impact:

Enabling Children’s and Young People’s Rights

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Animated resources to promote awareness on enabling children and young people’s rights. A Welsh Government supported project.

Visit www.uwtsd.ac.uk/uncrc to find out more.

Youth Work Wales

Youth Work Wales is a not-for profit site supported by the YMCA Wales Community College and University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

The aim of the site is to provide practitioners, students and managers of youth work in Wales with a range of historical and current information which will help develop thinking and practice.

Visit www.youthworkwales.org.uk to find out more.