Youth loneliness research on @SVT

The Loneliness Connects Us youth co-research was featured on Swedish TV @SVT station’s Correspondents series. As the programme billed it:

The epidemic of loneliness. The lack of human contacts is as dangerous as high blood pressure or extreme overweight. What can Sweden learn from a small British city, where it managed to stop the epidemic? Program leader: Lena Scherman and Bengt Norborg. Part 10 of 10.

ESRI at American Education Research Association 2018 conference

Academics from ESRI presented their research last month at the 2018 AERA conference in New York. The overall theme of the conference was ‘The Dreams, Possibilities, and Necessity of Public Education’, and with over 17,000 attendees, the annual conference is organised around a number of Divisions, Sections and Special Interest Groups (SIGs).

David Menendez Alvarez-Hevia and Karen Pashby presented (on behalf of co-authors Edda Sant and Jane McDonnell) “Agonistic Controversial” Issues as a Pedagogy for Global Citizenship Education“, within the Democratic Citizenship and Education Special Interest Group. The paper described findings of research workshops aimed to generate an agonistic space in which ideas on global citizenship were discussed without seeking consensus. Karen Pashby also presented (on behalf of co-author Louise Sund of Malardalen University) ‘Rethinking Teaching Sustainability and Global Ethics for U.N. Sustainable Development Goal Target 4.7: Engaging Swedish Upper Secondary Teachers’.

Liz de Freitas presented a paper ‘Dyscalculia, neuroscience and time: Rethinking the biopolitics of the body’ (on behalf of co-author Nathalie Sinclair), within the Disability Studies in Education SIG. David Rousell presented three papers in the Environmental Education SIG. His papers were titled Creatures of Experience: Towards an ecological aesthetics of childhood in an age of climate change (w/ Amy Cutter-Mackenzie). Ecological Aesthetics: New spaces, directions, and potentials (w/ Dilafruz Williams); and The ChildhoodNature Companion: Art, writing and research by children and young people (w/ Joshua Russell).

 Sarah Truman presented in four sessions across various Special Interest Groups including: ‘Inhuman Literacies’ in Division B; ‘Racial Ontologies and the New Materialisms’ in the Qualitative Research SIG; ‘Walking methodologies in a more-than-human world’ in the Qualitative Research SIG; and ‘Public Pedagogies and the Arts’ in the Arts-Based Educational Research SIG. (Sarah’s attendance at AERA was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and WalkingLab.) Also as part of the symposium ‘Walking methodologies in a more-than-human world‘, Michael Gallagher presented ‘Sound beyond meaning: listening walks as pedagogy‘ on behalf of my co-authors Jonathan Prior, Martin Needham and Rachel Holmes.

Kate Pahl convened a symposium on ‘Rethinking Literacy Ontologies Through the Eyes of Participants, Objects, and Sites: Public Pedagogies of Possibility’. This was part of the Writing and Literacies Special Interest Group. As part of this symposium. Kate Pahl and Hugh Escott gave a paper on ‘Prescriptivism and Inhuman Literacies: Rethinking Language and Schooling for Public Pedagogies’. Christina MacRae also presented in this panel her paper called ‘Colliding bodies and vibrant objects’, uses Harraway’s notion of ‘tentacular’ thinking to explore ‘object conflict’ in a class of two-year olds. Finally, also in this symposium Abigail Hackett and Pauliina Rautio presented ‘Corresponding with the world as early childhood literacy ontology’, in which they offered a new orientation for early childhood literacy, away from mastery of and naming of the world towards a deepened entanglement with the more-than-human.

“It was my first AERA and I found it extremely enriching and overwhelming. I had the opportunity to attend to some presentations that provided me with a flavour of some of the main trends, concerns and interest in educational research in the context of USA. It allowed me to come out of the “UK-European bubble”.

David Menendez Alvarez-Hevia, Senior Lecturer, School of Childhood, Youth and Education Studies


“I was immensely proud of the breadth of ESRI’s research represented at AERA and the world-leading nature of the papers. As Head of ESRI it is a privilege to witness my colleagues’ amazing work”.

Kate Pahl, Head of ESRI

Bibliotherapy Day – Manchester, 5th September

Booking is now open for the bibliotherapy day in Manchester on 5th September.

Join us for a day of sharing and discussion about bibliotherapy – the use of books and other reading materials to support health and wellbeing.

The event is open to anyone, whether you’re new to bibliotherapy or have experience of using fiction, poetry or self-help materials for wellbeing.

The morning will include a choice of workshops, including ‘Using wellbeing-themed stories and poems’; ‘Playful methods of bibliotherapy’; ‘Creative writing as bibliotherapy’; and ‘Running and setting up a reading group’.

The afternoon will see discussions on a range of topics, to be chosen in consultation with delegates.

We’ll also be celebrating the launch of our book, Bibliotherapy.

You can book a place here:

Investigating the impact of the Street Child World Cup

Investigating the impact of the Street Child World Cup: Researchers head to Moscow, ahead of the FIFA World Cup

Over 200 street-connected young people from across the world will come together today in Moscow for the third Street Child World Cup and researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University will be joining them to explore the tournament’s impact.

The Street Child World Cup uses the power of football to raise awareness and tackle the widespread stigma faced by street-connected children, inspiring countries, governments and communities to better protect, respect and support street-connected children everywhere.

The international football competition will bring together 24 national teams, made up of girls and boys, to represent their countries on the pitch. Off the pitch, the young people will make their voices heard at a festival of arts and Congress for their rights, calling for the rights of millions of children living and working on the streets worldwide.

Dr Su Lyn Corcoran, Research Associate at the Manchester Metropolitan University’s Education and Social Research Institute, and Dr Jeremy Oldfield, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, will be exploring the impact participating in the Street Child World Cup has on the young people who take part, the communities they belong to, and the organisations who support their participation.

Understanding the impact

Dr Oldfield said: “As advocacy is increasingly played out on international platforms, this research is important to understand how the ‘ambassador’ role as a voice for other street-connected young people affects the players’ own particular journeys away from the street.”

Examples of advocacy campaigns, like the Street Child World Cup: The Future Depends on You 2018, can provide young people with opportunities to journey to a new country, or countries.

Such journeys can develop positive representations of the communities that these young people belong to and provide audiences and potential donors with first-hand experience or ‘relationships’ with them.

They are also used to amplify the voices of the young people participating, offering them an opportunity to be heard advocating for themselves.

Run by Street Child United in association with Save the Children and leading Russian telecoms operator MegaFon, the Street Child World Cup offers researchers the opportunity to explore an international advocacy campaign’s impact on participants, multiple organisations from many different countries and the wider communities to which the young people belong.

Post-event, Dr Corcoran and Dr Oldfield will have the opportunity to investigate the extent to which taking on the role of self-advocate positively impacts upon the continuation of a young person’s reintegration journey away from the street and how they figure their own identities as having been street-connected within the publicity of participation in a high-profile event.

Dr Corcoran said: “In events such as the Street Child World Cup, competitors leave their homes in predominantly impoverished areas of large towns and capital cities to become the centre of attention for two weeks before returning to their ‘normal lives’. Exploring their experiences and their later transitions back into home communities means we can better understand the impact of participating in such events.

“This could inform the development of frameworks for both the organisation of similar events and managing the transition of participants returning home. Understanding both the positive impact and challenges arising from participation could also inform the development of programmes that model similar opportunities locally and internationally – especially those that change aspirations and build on these aspirations for the benefit of the participants and their communities.”

Dr Su Corcoran is fundraising for the 2018 #StreetChildWorldCup. 
Support by texting SCWC47 £10 to 70070 or visiting

Reposted from

Loneliness Connects Us: All our emotions are important

The Loneliness Connects Us youth co-research developed by researchers at ESRI and young people from 42nd Street has been republished as part of the Co-op Foundations’ new report All our emotions are important: Breaking the silence about youth loneliness – below. The report supplements the arts-based, qualitative research with a survey of 2,000 young people on perceptions of youth loneliness and barriers to talking about the issue.

Download (PDF, 20.01MB)

Loneliness Connects Us – Bury Seminar, 23rd June

Building on the Loneliness Connects Us research and in particular the Youth Seminar, we are supporting groups in Bury, Greater Manchester, to host a participatory seminar to develop community-based strategies for reducing loneliness.

Download (PDF, 6.09MB)

Loneliness Connects Us – Bury Seminar event is being run by St Michael’s and St Bernadette’s Parish, with MMU and 42nd Street.

23rd June, 10am – 4pm, St Michael’s Hall, Whitefield, M45 8JN

The starting point is that loneliness is of major concern and not only affects the old but the young and the whole community.

The event aims to raise awareness and explore effective support within the community.

The intended audience are teachers and councillors, parents, GPs, social services, mental health services, young people, youth leaders, and members of the community.

This will be a collaborative event, full of research-informed and arts-inspired, activities to help us collectively create solutions to reduce loneliness.

So join us for an interactive seminar that will enable you to voice your ideas and opinions to end loneliness.

For more information and to register visit the Eventbrite page

My Hulme: Book Reading and Film Screening

Pete Bradshaw, former Birley High student and author of Rise and Rise Again A Birley Legacy reads from his new book and talks about his memories of Hulme. Following a brief Q&A, there will be a screening of The Spirit of Hulme from the Hulme ‘sweet’ Hulme project by Reel Mcr. The film about the community response to housing developments in Hulme from 1960s to 1980s is by internationally acclaimed documentary filmmaker Paul Sapin and is told by residents of all ages.

ThuRsday, April 19, 2018, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Brooks Building, Manchester Metropolitan University



Loneliness Connects Us – thank you

We’d like to thank everyone who came along to the ‘Loneliness Connects Us’ Youth Summit and Project Celebration events on 22nd February, at Federation. The aim of the event was to invite young people and people that work or live with them to join us in continuing to rethink how youth loneliness is represented in relation to the types of recommendations that we are able to make to open more appropriate forms of resource and relationship for young people seeking to navigate experiences of loneliness.

The summit began with a wonderful performance from Clean Break Theatre – thanks all! A work in progress, the performance explored youth loneliness through a series of scenes interspersed by dance sequences where the young women moved in flow and against one another. The performance perfectly communicated our orientation in the research that arts-based and in particular theatre practice enables young people to explore and communicate the complexity of the pain, striving and intermittent connections that young people might experience while feeling lonely.

Janet Batsleer and youth co-researcher Kurtis Angell presented our research findings – see slides below – before young people from Barnados, Off the Record, Clean Break, Fresh R&B, and the Proud Trust led world café/ living library discussions on the loneliness and connection focused projects they participate in and lead.

The rest of the afternoon was devoted to developing and exploring scenarios of young people and the spaces, actions and reactions of experiences and attempts to navigate or endure feelings of loneliness. These scenarios challenged us to think beyond the simplicity of other people’s problems in suggesting that lonely people should just make friends or tell people how they feel. The biographies, the constrained spaces, the reduction in funding for services, the social and emotional dynamics of loneliness can frustrate the obvious and by grounding our responses to youth loneliness amongst these complexities we aimed to develop more relational and realistic engagements with youth loneliness.

Through the research we identified that youth loneliness is never simply a matter of young people being alone or feeling lonely. As we worked towards ideas for action or recommendations it became apparent that most went well beyond went initiatives that focused on loneliness amongst young people. Some of the ideas bordered into manifestos for re-ordering society wholesale:

This ideas will be taken forward in the form of a second performance piece around practical and political action on youth loneliness. We have been working with young people from the emerging Greater Manchester Housing Association Youth Assembly to plan this new performance and also to begin a dialogue on youth loneliness in and through youth democratic structures feeding into the Greater Manchester Combined Youth Authority.

An aim of the research was to work with young people to develop new perspectives based in their experiences and testimony and open up new ways of engaging with youth loneliness. We were happy that ITV Granada, ZDF and That’s Manchester joined us to report from the summit. This is the news report from ITV Granada:

Following the summit, we co-hosted a project celebration with Metropolis – thanks Veronica and Kai! Cllr Rishi Shori (Leader of Bury Council, GM Lead for Young People and Social Cohesion) opened the meeting, linking the research to the significance of empowering young people to engage with issues such as youth mental health, anti-radicalisation and youth loneliness. Jim Cooke from the Co-op Foundation outlined the foundation’s plan to engage with youth loneliness through its Belong network. Simone Spray (42nd Street) then gave an overview of the severe challenges facing the youth mental health and well-being agenda in Greater Manchester.

This blog is an extended opportunity to thank all the people that made the research possible. Our roll call of honour and gratitude!

Janet Batsleer, James Duggan, Kurtis Angell and Simone Spray

A conversation about comics and health with Cathy Leamy and Tony Pickering

Join us for an afternoon with two comics creators who have both used the medium to explore patient experiences. Although they take very different approaches, Cathy’s and Tony’s comics illustrate the power of the medium to not only provide health information and raise awareness, but also to offer reassurance and stimulate discussion.

Cathy Leamy is a Boston-based cartoonist specializing in autobiographical and health education comics. Her work includes the Suzie and Ray wellness webcomics for Massachusetts General Hospital’s DiabetesViews blog and the humorous health education comic Diabetes is After Your Dick!, as well as and research and co-writing for the Marvel Comics collection Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades. She is a long-time member of the comics collective Boston Comics Roundtable.

Cathy’s website

Tony Pickering created Diabetes: Year One as part of his MA in Illustration at MMU’s School of Art. Diabetes: Year One is a ‘comics-anthology’ combining comics and poetry to chart his first year since being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The work offers a patient perspective to explore the design of the patient-practitioner interface, aimed at developing awareness and understanding of the patient experience for new diabetics, parents and family, medical practitioners and, in a wider sense, patients.

Tony’s website


Loneliness Connects Us: Young people exploring and experiencing loneliness and connection

Youth loneliness is an issue that has come of age; indeed, loneliness might be seen as the issue of the age. With the appointment of the Minister for Loneliness it is apparent that recent media, civil society, research activity and not least the campaigning and advocacy of the Jo Cox Commission is ensuring loneliness is taken seriously. But what kind of issue is youth loneliness? And, how might we take it seriously? The Loneliness Connects Us project is youth co-research project that brings the voice of young people into the growing conversation about youth loneliness and answer these questions.

Research Aims:

  • To develop new narratives and ways of thinking and talking about loneliness, beyond medicalised discourses and towards more inclusive ways of belonging.
  • To locate youth loneliness within contemporary experiences of precarity, poverty and austerity politics in addition to settled truths about social media and isolation.
  • To bring the diverse voices and perspectives of young people into dialogue and decision making about addressing problematic and painful forms of loneliness.
  • To work with young people to explore and develop youth-led approaches to reducing painful forms of loneliness and develop more cooperative ways of being with one another.

We worked with a group of 14 youth co-researchers from 42nd Street and MMU programmes, exploring issues related to youth loneliness through arts-based and creative methods. In total we spoke to 133 young people in Manchester, Rhyll, Ballymena, Glasgow and Great Yarmouth.

For more information read our report Loneliness Connects Us: Young people exploring and experiencing youth loneliness and friendship.

Download (PDF, 6.74MB)

A significant part of the research was the belief that as loneliness is a sensitive and stigmatised experience, arts and creative methods are invaluable in working to research and communicate issues relating to youth loneliness. The research developed ‘Missing’ a playful and immersive theatre experience for young people to explore experiences of loneliness and participate in discussions to develop new understandings of youth loneliness. For more information on Missing, watch these films:

This was a youth co-research project and that aimed to explore youth loneliness from the perspective of young people, developing the research agenda and research methods according to the preferences and interests of the youth co-researchers. As part of this we spent a day ‘taking over’ Reform Radio to record ‘Conversations that Matter’ on youth loneliness. To listen to the show click on the image: 

This was a project that aimed to understand youth loneliness and create new knowledge and practices to help young people to navigate painful experiences of loneliness. We recommend:

  • Develop new ways of thinking and talking about youth loneliness, beyond medicalised discourses of epidemics and towards more expansive understandings of youth and more inclusive ways of belonging.
  • Arts-based and creative methods create spaces and relationships where young people can find connection and navigate painful forms of loneliness.
  • Restore threatened youth work provision and fund a plurality of options so that all young people have someone who knows and accepts them for who they are.
  • Re-imagine interventions beyond individual funded projects and towards commons spaces and social movements to bring into being more co-operative and convivial communities.
  • Youth led social action is necessary to develop the practical and political change, benefiting youth participants and their peers.

Download (PDF, 1.68MB)

Janet Batsleer and James Duggan