Category Archives: Summer 2016 issue

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Protecting the children of Tanzania and Zanzibar

In 2011, UNICEF commissioned an extensive study of violence against children in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar revealing alarmingly high levels of physical, emotional and sexual violence against children. In 2014 The Centre for Applied Childhood Youth and Family Research at the University of Huddersfield was commissioned by UNICEF Tanzania to undertake a follow up study exploring the role of Knowledge Attitudes and Practices that give rise to violence against children.

Expertise at Huddersfield

The Centre for Applied Childhood Youth and Family Research has an established international reputation in research concerning violence and abuse against children as well as participatory action research with children and communities.

Developing a deeper understanding to inform policy and programming

The aim of the study was to gain a better understanding of the drivers of violence against children and the possibilities for developing a protective environment for children. The overall purpose of the research is to inform policy and programme development whilst at the same time build capacity at a local level through community engagement.

International collaboration

The study was undertaken between October 2014 and December 2015 in 10 regions across mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar and involved a collaboration with Mzumbe University in Tanzania. A team of 10 researchers from Mzumbe University and 20 community researchers from each of the 10 regions were trained by University of Huddersfield staff to undertake the field work.

Community action research

The research was conducted in two phases. The first phase involved focus groups with children, parents, community leaders and professionals in each region. The second phase involved a community action research process involving a total of 60 research workshops. Action research is a different sort of research. Instead of collecting data, action research involves a process of ‘learning for change’ in which participants critically reflect on their own values and practices in order to consider possibilities for change. In this research, issues and questions emerging from the focus groups were explored further in a participatory appraisal process to map attitudes and practices in the community. Parents and community leaders then engaged in critical reflection and dialogue in response to findings, with a view to exploring possibilities for developing a protective environment for children.

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[Image caption: Adults involved in participatory appraisal of values and practices relating to violence against children]

Giving children and young people a voice

In parallel to the adult community action research groups, participatory research with children and young people aged 11-18 years was undertaken in each area. The voices of children are often overlooked in Tanzania, so in this study emphasis was placed on ensuring children and young people had an opportunity to share their views and experiences of violence.

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[Image caption: Young people working together to map violence in their community]

Policy and programme development

UNICEF along with other NGOs (non-governmental organisations) is working with the government in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar to improve child protection. In January 2016 two national workshops were facilitated by the University of Huddersfield during which national stakeholders engaged with the findings from the study and discussed implications for policy and programme development. Findings from this study will feed into the next 10 year strategy to reduce violence against children in Tanzania. At the same time emphasis was placed on building capacity at a local level by engaging community members and local stakeholders as research partners and agents of change. Their role is to activate learning and development at a local level to respond to violence against children.

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[Image caption: National stakeholders engaging with research findings]

Future research

A subsequent proposal has been submitted to the Oak Foundation for a study of Healthy Relationships in Adolescence, which is a participatory action research project with young people to develop preventative strategies in response to sexual abuse and exploitation.

This project consolidates the reputation of the Centre for Applied Childhood Youth and Family Research for high quality research in the field of child abuse and exploitation.

For further information contact the project leader:

Professor Barry Percy-Smith

Eunice Ma

Serious games helping to combat domestic violence

Researchers and practitioners in the growing area of ‘serious games’ are using video game-based technologies such as virtual and augmented reality – more widely associated with entertainment – in order to make breakthroughs in many aspects of healthcare and education.

Minhua Ma 1

A leader in the field is the University of Huddersfield’s Professor Minhua Eunice Ma (pictured above) who has published a large number of articles and books, including Serious Games and Edutainment Applications and Virtual, Augmented Reality and Serious Games for Healthcare 1, which has contributions from almost 100 global experts and is aimed at healthcare professionals, scientists, researchers and students.

Combating domestic violence in the East Caribbean and the UK

Gaming is often associated with encouraging violence, however a project at the University of Huddersfield will lead to the development of a serious game that aims to prevent violence, by helping to reduce levels of domestic violence, generate empathy and change players’ attitude to domestic abuse. The game will be used as part of a project in both the Eastern Caribbean and the UK.

serious gaming

A team headed by the University of Huddersfield’s Professor Adele Jones – an expert on social work and issues including child protection – includes Professor Minhua Eunice Ma, who has a global reputation in the field of serious games designed to bring about improvements in fields such as healthcare and education.  The inter-disciplinary group has been awarded €400,000 via the European Union’s Delegation to the Eastern Caribbean Research Programme: Towards a Future Free from Domestic Violence.

Minhua Ma, Adele Jones and Gill Kirkman

(Pictured from left: Minhua Eunice Ma, Adele Jones and Gill Kirkman)

This will fund a multi-faceted investigation of domestic violence in the Caribbean countries of Grenada and Barbados. The research will be mirrored in the UK by another member of the team, Gill Kirkman, who is Subject Leader in Social Work at the University’s School of Human and Health Sciences. Also taking part in the project is Reader in Criminal Psychology at the University of Huddersfield Dr Daniel Boduszek.

Data will be used to develop an interactive, role-playing computer game designed to educate and influence attitude change among potential perpetrators of violence while seeking to empower those who are at risk of victimisation.

Professor Ma’s goal for this new project is to use games to change young people’s behaviour and attitudes to domestic violence.


The project has been named None-in-Three, derived from the finding that one-in-three women and girls experience violence in their lives.


The University of Huddersfield will implement the project in partnership with the Grenada-based Sweet Water Foundation, which campaigns on child sexual abuse, while Huddersfield’s links with the University of the West Indies will help to ensure that the research outcomes have maximum impact across the region.

When the computer game has been developed it will be piloted among groups of young people in the Caribbean. Its language would be adaptable for different countries, although the basic content would likely remain the same.

For further information contact:

Professor Eunice Ma

Felicity Astin

Developing nurses to deliver the best cardiovascular care

With a growing and ageing population and an increase in lifestyle-related conditions such as obesity and diabetes the challenge facing the health service in Europe is immense.

Cardiovascular disease such as coronary disease and stroke continues to be a significant global health burden and the leading cause of mortality worldwide.

Nurse education

The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) which includes the Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professions (CCNAP) has an international membership of over 50,000 members from 56 countries. The Society has a vision to decrease the burden of cardiovascular disease in Europe.

As the largest sector of the health professional workforce nurses have a significant contribution to make. However, the provision of nurse education in Europe is variable. Research has revealed that the level of nurse education, together with the nurse-to-patient ratio, has an impact on 30-day in-patient mortality rates. Hospitals with a greater number of their workforce educated to Bachelor level have lower 30-day in-patient mortality, compared to those with less (Aitken et al, 2014).

Core curriculum

Felicity Astin

An educational initiative led by Professor Felicity Astin (pictured above) at the University of Huddersfield, together with colleagues, has made a significant contribution towards the streamlining of cardiovascular nurse education in Europe. A core curriculum has been developed, on behalf of CCNAP, that can be used as a learning framework to guide nurse education in cardiovascular care.

A grass roots approach was taken when developing the curriculum with the emphasis being on the decentralisation of decision making. This approach supports the autonomy and shared responsibility of each individual country.

There are eight key themes of the core curriculum. These themes are transferable across different levels of clinical practice and settings and can be used as a learning framework to guide nurse education.

Diagram of Core Curriculum
Diagram of Core Curriculum

Focus on ‘care’ not ‘cure’

A significant proportion of illnesses are preventable and by shifting the focus from ‘cure’ to ‘care’ the aim is to help people to self-manage their health.

The core curriculum moves the emphasis away from the biomedical approach to care delivery and strengthening the person and family centred perspective. Key components include effective communication, learning and teaching skills, the ability to facilitate patient autonomy and the provision of individualised care in a respectful manner – all of which were identified as key markers of quality care by in-patients in a large scale survey of over 68,000 patients in Europe (Jenkinson et al, 2002).

The curriculum also emphasises the importance of health literacy – the ability and opportunity that an individual has to access, read and understand high quality health information – which has the potential to enhance health promotion, wellbeing and reduce health inequalities. The educational provision of cardiovascular nurses needs to reflect the changing healthcare needs of our global population.

Equality of nurse education

The development of a core curriculum contributes to the advancement of cardiovascular nursing education across Europe. Currently educational programmes for nurses differ across European countries with an increasing need to provide nurses in Europe with access to Bachelor level education.

The next step is to identify advanced and specialist curricula. Other specialist groups, such as the Heart Failure Association within the European Society of Cardiology are currently developing such material. The content within the core curriculum will link with the specialist content to progress and advance cardiovascular nurse education.

The core curriculum is being used to inform similar educational developments in Australia and will be presented as part of a keynote session at the World Heart Federation meeting in Mexico in June 2016.

For further information contact:

Professor Felicity Astin

Jodie Matthews - canals 2

Exploring the lives of the Victorian communities of Britain’s waterways  

Dr Jodie Matthews looks at the lives of the Victorian communities of Britain’s waterways in her role as the first honorary Research Fellow for the Canal and River Trust.

Today’s canal travellers are mostly leisure boaters, in pursuit of tranquillity. Their Victorian predecessors were families who lived and worked afloat, earning mistrust and criticism from respectable society. This means they are a natural subject for the University of Huddersfield’s Dr Jodie Matthews, who specialises in nineteenth-century attitudes towards people who travelled Britain, including Romanies and Gypsies. Dr Matthews focuses on the representation of canal boat people in literature and non-fiction sources.

She has already authored articles on bargee families and has now been appointed by the Canal and River Trust as its first honorary Research Fellow.

Canal research network

Dr Matthews has started to establish a new Canal Research Network, bringing academics, heritage professionals and enthusiasts together to talk about new approaches to exploring waterways history and research. She is also helping with new designs for the Gloucester Waterways Museum.

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Although inland waterways retained a commercial role for a considerable time, the coming of the railways meant they faced severe competition and one result was that – to cut living costs – bargees and their families lived permanently on their boats and subsequently gained a reputation for drunkenness, violence and lack of religious observance.

Dr Matthews has already explored the representation of canal people and the attitudes towards them and other travelling communities in two articles for the journal Nineteenth-Century Contexts. The first – from 2013 – is entitled “Thousands of these floating hovels”: Picturing Bargees in Image and Text. In 2015 this was followed by Mobilising the Imperial Uncanny: Nineteenth-Century Textual Attitudes to Travelling Romani People, Canal-Boat People, Showpeople and Hop-Pickers in Britain.

Representations of canal boat people

Victorian attitudes to bargee families were complex and varied, according to Dr Matthews.

“It was very similar to the way the Romani were represented,” she said. “On the one hand there was exoticism, because canal life seemed a counter to urbanisation. In a strange way, given their role in industrialisation, the canals seemed to offer a quiet life that was different to the frenetic pace of modernising Britain.”

Britain’s waterways

“But then a lot of the representations come from a religious perspective, because canal people were often seen as alcoholic, illiterate Sabbath breakers whose children were mistreated. All of these were exaggerations, although they did have to work on the Sabbath to make it pay.”

Canal people

The Canal and River Trust was keen to appoint Dr Matthews because as a literature scholar she provides a different perspective on canal history. In addition to promoting academic research, she also intends to engage with the public and to incorporate the discoveries that are being made by canal enthusiasts and family historians into her research.

For further information contact:

Dr Jodie Matthews