Our story

Our story

We are a mixed bag of people – academics, parents, young people, practitioners and service users – who find the idea of resilience useful in our lives and in our work. Professor Angie Hart loosely leads the group from two bases at the University of Brighton, the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice and the Community-University Partnership Programme, and from the Community Interest Company that she manages. We work in the City of Brighton and Hove, on the south-east coast of England.

Our work on resilience got underway in 2005

With just three of us involved in the beginning (Professor Angie Hart, Dr Derek Blincow and Helen Thomas), we started out by completing a scholarly literature review of the resilience research base. We were curious to know why some children facing similar difficulties and ongoing social disadvantage did better than others. Inspired by what we found, we pulled out the key findings, tied them with our own practice and parenting experience, and created Resilient Therapy (RT).  Because, we wanted to address the gap we noticed in the research and translate the messages from resilience research and practice based evidence for parents, practitioners and young people to use themselves

Kim Aumann, our community partner from Amaze joined the team in 2006

Kim was keen for us to involve parents from the outset because without trying the ideas out with families living with real life challenges 24/7, or tapping into their experience and expertise, we could have missed a trick. We frequently co-deliver training with Helen Arnold-Jenkins and Carrie Britton and really wanted RT to be practical, accessible and useable and our Resilience Parent Advisory Groups helps us to do just that. They have a real knack for getting across with great honesty and humour, what family life is like with children with extra difficulties.

We’ve been testing and refining the framework ever since

The glue that binds us is a shared passion to explore research and practice that gets to the crux of how to build resilience in complex situations. We’re interested in what to do to help children and families living with persistent difficulties and disadvantage do better than any of us might expect – those situations for example, where the level of social and economic deprivation feels overwhelming, or where practitioner or parent morale is low and it’s hard to see what can be done next to shift things for the better.

Our work on different initiatives, all links in some way to wanting to bridge the theory practice divide

We’ve written two books, published a series of articles and produced a short film to help explain how RT works. We deliver conference presentations, information and training sessions and work directly with various groups of parents, young people and practitioners. We regularly pursue new opportunities and have successfully secured funding from a number of sources to develop the work further.

Our collaboration with others expands every year and is central to our work

We prefer and are committed to including partners from a wide range of settings. This way, we get to swap and develop knowledge and skills and identify effective ways to link teaching and research with real community issues. Academics, students, practitioners, parents and young people have worked with us in different ways. For example, we now have a resource pool of folk trained in the application of RT for us to draw on for future research and practice developments and community members contribute to university teaching programmes.

The Community of Practice approach is one that we have found to be particularly helpful in achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable joint work between the university and its community.

In 2010, we set up a Community Interest Company

We want to see if we can create a sustainable community-university partnership fit to tackle entrenched deprivation. So our Community Interest Company (CIC) is testing our resilience work with social enterprise activity. Fingers crossed, it just might provide another model of funding for the sustainable development of resilience research and practice work.  We are currently busy designing a coherent learning programme with new learning materials so we can deliver and disseminate our resilience work further afield.

In 2016 Boingboing North was set up in Blackpool!

With funding from Blackpool Council and the Big Lottery Fund’s HeadStart programme we have set up a Boingboing office in Blackpool. Blackpool is a quirky town in the North of England which faces multiple social and economic challenges. We are facilitating aspects of the HeadStart programme to support the mental health of children and young people in Blackpool using a community development approach to embed Resilient Therapy across the town. We are drawing on both resilience and systems theory to work alongside practitioners, parents and young people to build a more resilience-based way of working using a common language. We are supporting others in the North of the UK to develop resilience stuff too.

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