Posts about: Meet our Staff

Mid life transformation: From social worker to academic

7 February 2016

donna1As I start to write this blog I realise there is so much about me that is already on the internet.  So, you can find out things about my reflections about teaching and learning here in a blog I wrote as part of my postgraduate academic practice certificate.  If you venture to read that blog, you will discover elements of my character and history. These days my ever chatty nature leads me to love Twitter, as you will see if you visit here.  The life I experience now, is vastly different from my very humble beginnings living in an impoverished area of Manchester. I missed a lot of primary and secondary education and it was only a fluke that enabled me to go to college. I left home aged 18years and was self sufficient from that time. Well almost, at times without money and occasionally without sufficient food. But struggling to survive and make ends meet was familiar to me.

I sometimes remark that I was born a social worker; the eldest of six children I quickly learned to be responsible and to develop skills that met the needs of others. From 1985, I worked as an unqualified social worker in children’s homes until in 1995 I completed the diploma of social work at the University of Salford. There is not enough space to explain what those years of experience gave me. However, I will share with you that, although I have never had children, there exist in the world people who think of me as their mum.  That never fails to make my heart swell, with both joy and sadness, for them and for me.

donna2My career progressed into working in child protection teams, before later working for the children and family court advisory and support service (CAFCASS). The final ten years of my career were spent acting as an expert witness for the family courts. Despite my social work skills and knowledge, I tried and failed to complete a degree on two occasions. However, in 2006 I embarked on a five year journey with the Open University and was awarded a first class honours degree in psychology. This was such a boost to my confidence that I went on to achieve a MSc in family and child psychology (with distinction) in 2012.  For me, this was a huge achievement. I was in my 40’s and the first person in my family to go to university. The urge to learn continued and I embarked on a phd. In truth, I didn’t really quite know what a phd was, but I saw no reason why I couldn’t get one. I am now close to finishing my thesis, which explores the lived experience of prospective adoptive parents. This time next year, I will be Dr Peach and will become a chartered psychologist with the British Psychological Society.

My social work values are embedded in my role as an academic. I was delighted to lead the team which analysed the needs of the people of Rotherham following the publicised concerns about the sexual exploitation of children in the town. I am currently involved in other important projects which aim to combat the abuse of children. I firmly believe that ordinary people like me can make a difference. Ordinary people like me, with support and opportunity, do extraordinary things. I have even found myself published in the Conversation and the Independent newspapers.  But, I also like to have fun and spread joy, particularly raising spirits and funds in my Christmas costumes.

donna3Life is about continual learning. Sometimes this is recognising we each have a voice, and we can, indeed we must, make a stand against social injustice. My passion remains to make a meaningful difference in the world, and let me tell you, if Donna Peach from Higher Openshaw can do it, then so can you.

Donna Peach, Lecturer in Social Work


31 January 2016

Ian / CoventryI was born and grew up in the thriving metropolis that is Coventry. This is one reason why I am fascinated by the paintings of the great George Shaw. I  moved to the North West to study as a post-graduate at Manchester University.

Ian Cummins

Ian Cummins

I originally trained as a probation officer. It is so long ago that not only did trainees qualify as social workers but they were also generously sponsored by the Home Office. In the first year of my course , I received a £200 book allowance. After working as a probation officer, I was civil servant – a job I was totally unsuited for and not very good at –  but I did meet Mrs. Cummins whilst working in that office. I moved back to social work and worked as a mental health social worker in Central Manchester before taking up academic posts. I joined the University in 2003 and became a Senior Lecturer in 2006. I have been the leader for both undergraduate and postgraduate social work programmes. In a move that surprised a lot of people – myself included – I was appointed the Acting Director for Social Work Education  for a period last year.

researchMy main research revolves around the experiences of people with mental health problems in the Criminal Justice system. This includes all areas of the CJS but I have focused on policing and mental illness.  I argue the CJS has become, in many incidences, the default provider of mental health care. In the area of social theory, I am influenced by Wacquant’s analysis of  processes of advanced marginality.and the development of the penal state analysis of the development of mental health policy has applied Jonathan Simon’s   notion of “governing through crime”  to the history of community care.   I am currently working in two areas : the history of anti-psychiatry and social work’s response to poverty.

Ian4I have just completed a book that examines mental health issues across the CJS. This is due for publication in March 2016.  I explore the way that the failure of community care policies have led to more people with mental health problems being drawn into the CJS. This is not only unjust but puts their health at greater risk.  The book argues that the use of imprisonment has to be reduced and that the only way to do this is by rediscovering the principle of dignity.  All those caught up in the CJS are our fellow citizens if we start from acknowledging this fundamental point then we would devise completely different responses to offending.

I am now working with colleagues, Sarah Pollock and Valerie Houghton on research that will examine the implementation of the Care Act in HMP Manchester. I am also involved in an evaluation with Kate Parkinson of a local project that is aiming to reduce the numbers of vulnerable young people who are “missing from home”.

Ian5With colleagues at MMU, I have been working on a series of papers about TV crime drama. These include discussions of the representation of stress in cop drama but also research that explored retired officers’ views. Like all right thinking people, I am slightly obsessed with the Wire – they teach a course on it at Harvard so we should do the same at Salford.

elfI am a reviewer for a number of journals, on the editorial board of the Journal of Adult Protection. I also write regularly for the Conversation, and the Socialcareelf and Mentalcareelf blogs. I suspect that I am best known across the School for having the clearest desk in the department and for that Elf video.

Ian Cummins, Senior Lecturer in Social Work

School of Nursing Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences

My journey from a Business graduate to a KTP associate

20 January 2016

About me as an associate

Carolyn Wilson, KTP associate

Carolyn Wilson, KTP associate

I obtained my PhD from Durham University in May 2014. The PhD was on the motivations of technology use by older adults. I then became a KTP research associate in Digital Health at the University of Salford in January 2015. This journey has allowed me to extend the research experience I already had; I have learnt a lot about processes in the health context and I have also had great opportunities to attend courses and conferences.

I studied for my PhD at Durham University Business School, however, my interests have always been in the well-being of people and how behaviour change can improve health and lifestyle. It therefore felt like a natural step to move more into the public health domain. I am now working with GPs and healthcare professionals on a particular digital health product for patients with long term conditions. This move has meant that I’ve learnt a lot about the research process in public health in a very short period of time. Being thrown into the deep end, I quickly learnt about the intricacies of local approvals, CCGs, CSUs and the IRAS website, which were all completely alien terms before I started at Salford. I can now, however, take confidence that I understand a little but more than I did before.

The KTP has provided me with great opportunities to attend conferences and courses. Having previously undertaken an unfunded PhD, this was a very exciting prospect and like a kid in a sweet shop, I definitely made the most of it. I’ve present at the 40th Anniversary KTP conference in Glasgow and at workshop on Digital Innovation in Health at the University of Salford. I’ve also attended courses on management, systematic reviewing, academic writing, digital health and the behavioural science of self-control.

Alongside being a research associate in Digital Health, I also teach online MBA and MA modules at Durham University Business School on a part-time basis. I have been teaching since 2011 and as a result I’ve taught on a wide variety of topics from methods of inquiry to social media strategies, improving management decision making and crisis management. I really enjoy both teaching and research and hope to continue these to a high level throughout my career.

About my research

The research that I am currently undertaking is part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Carolyn2between Dynamic Health Systems (DHS) and the University of Salford. The initial brief was to evaluate the effectiveness of VitruCare, a digital health service, at helping patients self-manage their own health. As the project has progressed, the research has also and we now have three different versions of VitruCare to evaluate.

The first is VitruCare for people with Long Term Conditions (LTCs): this service involves patients setting goals and action plans on how to achieve these goals. It provides a health tracking service for any measure the patient chooses; blood pressure, weight, food intake, exercise, time spent watching TV etc, with the idea that the patient can visualise their progress as they strive for a healthier lifestyle. The research on this cohort involves measuring patient health, symptoms, well-being and self-efficacy of managing chronic disease across an 8 month time period at baseline, 4 months and 8 months. Satisfaction is also being measured (4 months, 8 months) and focus groups are being held with both patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs).

The second version of the system is VitruCare Lite, which is intended for patients with hypertension or diabetes. The aim of this system is to provide the patient with pre-set goals and action plans so that they can move quickly to adding in values to their health trackers. It is essentially a time saving version of the system. These patients are being measured in the same way as the LTC cohort and results will be compared to see if there is a benefit to the goal setting and action plan creating process.

carplyn3The final version of VitruCare has been designed for patients in palliative care and is more centred on the well-being of the patient. As a result, the system provides the patient with trackers for mood, energy, symptoms and pain, an online space for a diary and a secure messaging service that can be shared with their HCPs. The benefit of this system on patients nearing the end of life is being investigated through repeated measure questionnaires at baseline and 3 months, focus groups, satisfaction questionnaires and extraction of information entered into the system.

The three different versions of the system that have emerged over the past 12 months may have reduced the numbers for a large quantitative study but we can look at the service development journey for three different cohorts and explore what worked and what didn’t work. Using the research gathered, principles from behavioural economics and journey mapping the service implementation will be evaluated and recommendations developed for the future of VitruCare.

Dr. Carolyn Wilson,

KTP Associate in digital health,

University of Salford, School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Social Work & Social Sciences.

On Remembering Rapture – or reconnecting with the pleasures of writing

10 January 2016

keep-calm-it-s-my-first-blog-2This is my first blog and I must begin by saying how this is, for me, a rite of passage that has been a long time in the making, (reading the ‘Hail the Virgin Blogger’ of Lisa Bacon had resonance…)*. I have resisted technological innovations, an issue I revisit later in this, I want to say diary, journal, anything but ‘blog’…

Picture the scene, it is a December evening,  I am writing the preliminary outline for this, what is for me, biographical construction on paper, leaning (literally) on a book by James Rhodes ‘Instrumental’, where he gets to tell his story. bell hooks’ book ‘Remembered Rapture’ is lying next to me, both of these are inspiring me to write, for various reasons.


Tyler & the Chocolate Factory

20 December 2015

IMG_1239Chocolate, almost everyone likes it, some in small amounts and others in much larger quantities.  I am very sure many people reading this are likely to be prizing a small nugget of the stuff out of their advent calendar on a regular basis at the moment.  Personally, I fall into the latter group of people and I am very much a chocoholic, but my love of chocolate goes a little deeper than just eating it.  To me, it provides an essential source of relaxation and an avenue to channel the meagre amount of creative flare that I have.


The waltz goes on

13 December 2015

2006 – The beginning

Wearing traditional Romanian costume – 200 years old

In 2006 I stepped first on Salford grounds. It was a long journey having to deal with registration, games, prizes, new colleagues and tutors before I settled into life as a Salford Business School student. My head was buzzing, but what I often recall is one evening at work in a movie rental store in Curry Mile Manchester. Nothing unusual – computers switched on, clients around, and my friends, who came to keep me company. A couple interrupted the routine asking for a poster. I asked them to return in a week and they walked towards the front door. Suddenly the guy turned around and joyfully said: “I know you, I know you – you are Cristina from Romania. I know you from the University of Salford”.  My friends burst into laughter and ever since I remained ‘Cristina from Romania’ 🙂


Embracing the inner magpie

8 December 2015


As I sit on a train to Birmingham listening to Hot Chip sing “do it now, say it now” I decide to finally start the blog post that I’ve been promising to write for a couple of months. What’s the reason I’ve been putting it off? The fear of not writing anything interesting! Yes I know I’m the Digital Teaching & Learning Manager but when it comes to blogging I still hesitate. I think that’s what helps me talk to others about the value of social media, because I know how hard it can be. I’m great with the likes of Twitter and headline stuff but I’ve never been a natural reflector so I always put these kind of activities off.

emma2After many years of beating myself up about my breadth rather than depth nature, I think I’ve finally come to terms with it and have started to embrace the benefits of being a magpie. I love shiny new things, new ideas, new approaches and the freedom to experiment. True, I probably don’t read enough (unless it’s the legend Sir Terry Pratchett’s books RIP) but I do bring the energy and drive to create and encourage change.


Meet our Jeanne

30 November 2015

Dr Jeanne Lythgoe.jpgI have now been a Lecturer in Midwifery at Salford for 5 years after spending 30 years in practice. I really enjoy the challenges of teaching the next generation of midwives. In July this year I achieved my Professional Doctorate and still find it difficult to believe I have actually finished it! Being a doctorate student as a member of staff has been an interesting experience. I have found that the support of colleagues and supervisors has been invaluable, they have encouraged me to keep going, offered pearls of wisdom, even covering my work at crucial times. I cannot thank them all enough, particularly my supervisors.  I have to admit it is quite stressful knowing all your inevitable ups and downs are played out in full view of colleagues but overall I feel it would have been more difficult to achieve my doctorate had I been working in an environment where they did not appreciate the effort and stress involved in completing a PhD.


I am going to greatly enjoy myself here at Salford

22 November 2015

Tyler Warburton

My name is Tyler and I am a lecturer within nursing, much like Lisa who delivered last weeks blog, I am very new here.  This will be my forth week at the University of Salford and I am settling in well.  Its hard not to, given the welcoming and warm nature of the people I have met so far.  I think it will be quite sometime before I remember everyone’s names and perhaps much longer until I fully get my head around the finer details of the programme.

The most memorable and inspiring encounter I have had so far came in my second week.  I was given the opportunity to attend the second of the patient conferences that had been put on for the new cohort of nurses and midwives that had started in September.  Service user involvement is something of an interest of mine so I anticipated I would enjoy the day, but I most definitely underestimated how much.


Hail The Virgin Blogger

15 November 2015

IMG_0429I am the newly appointed Director of Midwifery, Counselling and Psychotherapy in the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences. I am also a practising midwife who over the last 25 years has worked and practised across a range of settings and organisations encompassing clinical care, education and management and leadership.  During this time my experience has been extensive, varied and comprehensive. However, there is one thing I have never done. I have never (until now) ‘blogged’ I now only need to write 324 more and I will have caught up with last week’s blogger – Professor Tony Warne.