Anxious about austerity: fragile family lives

As part of the Participation Lab’s Think-Pieces, we are pleased to publish our latest blogpost by Emma Cox, Geography undergraduate student, University of Reading: Anxious About Austerity: Fragile Family Lives. She writes that households and families are bearing the brunt of austerity and community systems are suffering.  The blogpost was written as part of the second year undergraduate module, Culture, Identity & Place, taught by Ruth Evans and Sally Lloyd-Evans, University of Reading.

Implementing Change for Hidden Young Carers

The Participation Lab was pleased to host the Implementing Change for Hidden Young Carers conference at the University of Reading on 22 February 2017. The conference was chaired by young adult carers and organised by the Children’s Society Include Project.

The Hidden Photography Exhibition displayed powerful photographs of hidden young carers and their perspectives.


The conference, attended by 80 practitioners, directors of services and commissioners, provided updates on the current national picture for young carers and shared models of effective identification and whole family support for young carers and their families. Delegates heard from Mark Brown, Department of Health, about the new National Carers’ Strategy due to be launched soon in 2017 and from Helen Leadbitter about recent changes brought about by the Carers’ Act and Children and Families’ Act.

The afternoon focused on families affected by stigmatised illness and those often hidden from support, including young carers affected by parental substance misuse and mental illness. Ruth Evans and Helen Leadbitter presented the particular challenges faced by young carers in refugee and asylum-seeking families.

Young adult carers led important discussions about how caring affects young carers’ wellbeing, in positive as well as negative ways, and the importance of young carers’ participation so that they feel valued, heard and represented.

The emotional bucket and how the stresses young carers face can be alleviated by finding ways to open the tap and relax.

See the Agenda for more information.


LAST CHANCE TO BOOK: Implementing change for hidden young carers conference

University of Reading, 22 February 2017, 10am-5pm

Meadow Suite, WhiteKnights Campus, University of Reading, RG6 6UA

A FREE conference for practitioners, directors of services and commissioners to provide updates on the current national picture for young carers, share models of effective identification and whole family support for young carers and their families. In particular the afternoon will focus on families affected by stigmatised illness and those often hidden from support. See the Agenda.

Delegates will hear about the current National perspective for young carers and their families, including a review of the national legislation and guidance; hearing from the Department of Health about the new Carers Strategy (due for launch early 2017) and exploring how local authorities and communities can successfully implement whole family working. The afternoon will consist of a series of interactive ‘mini-lectures’ showcasing national and local implementation models from across England.

In order to secure your place please click on the following link

Launch of our new blogpost series: Think-Pieces!

We are pleased to launch our new blogpost series: Think-Pieces

Researchers, statutory and third sector partners, academics, students and Participation Lab members share their reflections and experiences on doing participatory action research, community development work, citizen science and engaging with young people, families and communities, whether locally in Reading, nationally or internationally.

Our first blogpost is by Dr. Giuseppe Feola, University of Reading:

How can participatory methods be adapted to different socio-cultural contexts? A critical evaluation of Rapid Appraisal of Agricultural Innovation Systems, and its application to agricultural adaptation to climate change in Kazakhstan


Map of the challenges faced by different actors in the local farming system in Karaoi, Kazakhstan

Feel free to join in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags, #ParticipationLab and #Think-Pieces.

Ethic of Care. Why Care Policies Need to Recognize the Interdependence of Us All

Ruth Evans’ blog post for the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) Transformation Conversation blog series calls for the language of ‘burden’ and ‘dependency’ to be re-framed to recognise the vulnerability and interdependence of us all. She writes:

“Care is finally receiving more of the attention it deserves in international development policy. Unpaid care and domestic work is explicitly recognized in Sustainable Development Goal 5, “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. Target 5.4 indicates this recognition should take place, “through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies”. The UNRISD 2016 Flagship report joins calls for unpaid care and domestic work to be recognized, reduced and redistributed (known as the “Triple R” framework) by means of care policies. […]

Rather than using the language of ‘burden’ and ‘dependency’, care needs to be re-framed to recognize the vulnerability and interdependence of us all. While care is often constructed as ‘women’s work’, as part of their so-called ‘natural’ nurturing roles as mothers, children, particularly girls, also take on substantial and regular care and domestic work in households where a parent, sibling or relative has a need for care related to young or older age, disability, chronic illness, mental health or substance misuse. Despite significant research evidence that children’s care work can have a range of negative impacts, as well as some positive impacts, it is often neglected within public policy. Recent research in Senegal has also shown that the death of a parent, sibling or adult relative can lead to increases in young people’s care work, which can have detrimental impacts on their well-being, education and employment outcomes”.

Read more here

A holistic approach to young people’s psychosocial wellbeing

Next Participation Lab event: 9.30-11.30am 22 November 2016, Overseas Development Institute, 203 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NJ

This event explores different approaches to young people’s psychosocial wellbeing in the Global South, including care and support following the death of a family member, and shares good practice in advancing support for young people, families and communities. It coincides with Children’s Grief Awareness Week UK, raising awareness of bereaved children and young people, which provides an opportunity to explore learning from the Global North.

To register to attend or to watch online, please click here.

Migration, Care, Language & Identity workshop

We are pleased to host an exciting workshop that will explore multi-disciplinary perspectives on Migration, Care, Language and Identity at the University of Reading on 3 November 2016. The programme includes:

  • Keynote from Eleonore Kofman, Professor of Gender, Migration & Citizenship, Middlesex University
  • Presentations of research findings from Reading academic staff and from practitioners working with refugees and migrants
  • Presentation of preliminary findings from Ruth Evans’ research on Forced Migration, Care and Family Relations in the South East of England, followed by a panel discussion with practitioners, including the Refugee Council and Children’s Society Include Project
  • Keynote from Jean-Marc Dewaele, Professor in Applied Linguistics and Multilingualism, Birkbeck, University of London


Art work produced in participatory workshops with refugees living with chronic illness and with young people from migrant backgrounds as part of Ruth Evans’ research will also be exhibited.

This Participation Lab workshop is funded by the University of Reading and is a collaboration with the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism and Global Development at Reading.

For more information, see the programme: Migration workshop

Contact: Ruth Evans,; @DrRuth_Evans.