Hi there, I’m Angie Hart. I’m a Boingboing volunteer, if volunteer is quite the right word. I’m actually its director, but I don’t draw a salary from Boingboing. I co-founded the organisation with Kim Aumann in 2010. In terms of my interest in resilience, the year 2004 stands out for me. This is when I first became excited by some of the books and articles on resilience research. Psychiatrist Derek Blincow and I were planning a talk for a resilience conference in Istanbul. We were applying ideas from the research to our practice work in NHS child and adolescent mental health. For the past 20-odd years I’ve been an academic working at the University of Brighton. I am the director of the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice based in the School of Health Sciences and I work closely with the Community University Partnership Programme (Cupp).

I’ve got really practical expertise in resilience too. I find the ideas very useful in my family life, especially when I’ve been about to shout at my kids or when I was too busy gossiping to my pals on the phone to help them with their job applications. I’m the adoptive parent of three gorgeous young people from the care system, all of whom have complex needs, and who are all now young adults. I’ve also got long-standing experience as a child and family psychotherapist. This job has taught me loads, including the following. It’s much easier to be completely nice and do finger painting with kids once a week, than it is when you’re their mum. This insight makes me want to champion the role of parents and foster carers – they are so undervalued.

I can also relate the concept of resilience to my own life in case you are interested in my sob story. I grew up in tricky circumstances, but went on to study social sciences at Oxford and Cambridge, and although I’m podgy and asthmatic I’ve cycled the London to Brighton twice. How did all that happen? But mostly I’m passionate about what an understanding of resilience can do for people who have really been dealt bum cards in life. And – yes I know this sounds a bit vomit-worthy – I’m trying to use what I’ve learnt, and the sometimes unexpected privileges I enjoy, to support people who haven’t been as fortunate as me. Lest I sound too much like a very dull martyr, I do have loads of fun on the way and enjoy discussing deep thoughts over cappuccinos in Brighton or Blackpool where I also hang out quite a bit. My brother calls me a champagne socialist. I find this most unfair because if you stick me in a corner with a glass of cava I’m just as happy.

As an academic I’ve researched loads of issues over the years, but have ended up sticking with resilience. It’s been a bit surprising to see how interested people get in our work. Some of the papers or books I’ve written before have only been read by about three people, and one of them was me. But our resilience research and practice development seems to inspire – well I get animated emails out of the blue from folk who’ve read our stuff and people keep asking if I run training programmes – so I suppose that counts. We’ve got quite a community going now, with lots of projects and a great network of collaborators. I’ve done quite a bit of work on resilience over the past five years – co-authoring two books and various other bits and bobs, you can check out my TEDx Brighton talk ‘Angie Hart – Making Resilient Moves’.

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