Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS)

KESS Header

2016-2017 Programme

Embedded in the KESS model are: the local universities via their academics; Assembly committees via their Chairpersons; the Assembly’s Research and Information Service (RaISe) via its Researchers; and, a broad spectrum of attendees. (Attendees include: MLAs and their staff; political party staff; Assembly and Departmental officials; others from the public and private sectors; academics; voluntary and community groups; and, members of the public.) For this reason, KESS creates unique engagement opportunities; and importantly provides a ‘pathway’ for more, in-depth discussion at a later date about findings presented at KESS.

The Series is jointly delivered by RaISe, in partnership with all three universities located in Northern Ireland (NI) – the Queen’s University of Belfast (QUB - co-founder in 2011), Ulster University (Ulster - in 2012) and The Open University (OU - in 2013).

Seminars are free and will be held from October 2016 through June 2017. Each seminar starts at 1.30pm in Parliament Buildings, located on Stormont Estate. Most seminars cover a range of themes under one broad heading – see below for relevant dates and timings. On arrival, delegates receive a seminar pack that includes the academics’ policy briefings and power point presentations, including contact information.

Tea/coffee is provided following presentations and discussion. Free parking is available to all. Kindly allow time to pass through Assembly Security upon entry to Parliament Buildings; and ensure that you specify your special needs (for example, wheelchair accessibility) when registering. The Assembly is committed to fulfilling its equality-related roles and responsibilities and will take reasonable efforts to meet requests relating to them.

To reserve your place at a seminar, email raise@niassembly.gov.uk.

Thanks for supporting KESS

 

2016-2017 Programme Details

 
 Date Seminar Topic
12.10.16 Outcome of the European Referendum: A Northern Ireland Perspective
16.11.16 Abortion Policy and Law: Key Considerations
23.11.16 Economy: Incentivising Investment and Competitiveness and Managing Public Debt
14.12.16 Children and Young Persons' Attitudes and Experiences
18.01.17 Prison Reform
25.01.17 Labour Market and Employment: Current Themes
08.02.17 Obesity: Key Considerations
15.02.17 Using Administrative Data to Inform Policy
22.02.17 Parents / Mothers and Children
08.03.17 Mental Health: Treatments and Interventions
22.03.17 Language in Education
29.03.17 Addressing Autism
05.04.17 Women in the Workplace
26.04.17 Farmers: Bureaucracy and Stress
10.05.17 Preventative Health: New Developments
17.05.17 Food System Planning
24.05.17 Environmental Issues
07.06.17 Deprivation in Northern Ireland
21.06.17 Understanding and Promoting Community Well-Being

 

12 OCTOBER 2016

OUTCOME OF THE EUROPEAN REFERENDUM: A NORTHERN IRELAND PERSPECTIVE

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks  

1.45pm – Prof John Garry (QUB) - The EU referendum Vote in Northern Ireland: Implications for our understanding of citizens’ political views and behaviour
Politics in Northern Ireland is typically dominated by the ethno-national divide between Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists. The EU referendum presents an opportunity for a major political issue to cross-cut this division, with variation in both communities on the issue of EU membership. In this presentation I use data from a large scale representative survey conducted at the time of the referendum (number of respondents = 4,000) to investigate the following questions: What kind of citizens participated in the referendum and what kind of citizens abstained? What is the demographic profile of ‘Remain’ voters and ‘Leave’ voters?: I investigate the relationship between vote behaviour and age, gender, social class, and education. What is the attitudinal profile of ‘Remain’ voters and ‘Leave’ voters?: I investigate the relationship between vote behaviour and positions on the nationalist-unionist issue area, on economic left-right matters and on socio-moral (conservative versus liberal) issues. The data used is from a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council on which I am the Principal Investigator.
Overall, the presentation provides a strong evidence-based discussion of who voted in the referendum, how they voted and how their voting relates to demographic and attitudinal characteristics. The presentation discusses the implications of the findings for our understanding of contemporary Northern Ireland politics and the use of referendums to address political issues.

2.05pm – Dr Graham Brownlow (QUB) – Opportunity Brexit? Institutional Economic Implications for Northern Ireland
The vote for Brexit has created a situation where economic policy, to a certain extent, is developing faster than textbook theory. Northern Ireland’s economic predicament is a combination of UK-wide processes, more intense forms of UK-wide problems and processes unique to the region. The speed, sequence and ‘architecture’ of regional economic policy-making, as well as its content, requires consideration if Brexit is to provide an economic opportunity. Designing appropriate economic policy responses requires considering not just the policies to be pursued, but also the design of the organisations needed to implement policies.

2.25pm – Dr Lee McGowan and Dr Viviane Gravey (QUB) – EU Policy Competences after Brexit: Issues for Northern Ireland
Many aspects of public policy in Northern Ireland involved an EU dimension, being shaped in Brussels and implemented locally. The return of devolved government to Northern Ireland opened up new possibilities for engagement with the EU, provided access to specific funds and gave Northern Ireland a presence in Brussels. What does Brexit mean for Northern Ireland? Following Brexit (former) EU competences will become the responsibility of the devolved administrations but are they ready to develop, fund and administer these aspects of public policy.  This presentation focuses on two policy areas, namely agriculture and the environment. Both have played a significant role in Northern Ireland in terms of funding (through, for example, the Single Farm Payment) and legislation (Habitats Directive; Waste Directives). As the UK government prepares its negotiation strategies, there are many questions to raise over the EU impact on both and the future shape of a Northern Irish agricultural policy and which areas of EU environmental legislation to keep or abandon.  

2.45pm – Discussion
3.05pm – Comfort Break

3.10pm – Dr Katy Hayward (QUB) – The Implications of Brexit for the Irish Border: Challenges and Options
A key conundrum facing policymakers is how to realise a central ambition of the Brexit campaign (i.e. hardening the UK’s borders with the EU) without damaging the benefits currently ensured by the UK’s ‘soft’ borders with Ireland. This presentation will focus on the Irish border as the locus of this challenge – one which has particular implications for the cohesion of the UK and political stability within NI. It will first identify the likely fracture points and, indeed, yield points in cross-border cooperation on the island. It will then outline different options for managing the UK/Ireland border flows and governance in the potential context of the UK’s exit from the EU.

3.30pm – Prof David Phinnemore (QUB) – Northern Ireland and Brexit: Limits and Opportunities for a New Relationship with the EU
The prospect of Brexit begs questions of what new relationship the UK can and should seek to establish with the EU and how Northern Ireland can and should position itself in that relationship. Given the remain vote and post-Brexit the challenges posed not least by its geographical location, what if any options are there for a bespoke status for Northern Ireland? The presentation reviews established and more recent options against the backdrop of established principles underpinning the nature and content of the relationships the EU has established with European neighbours, as well as bespoke arrangements established for specific regions within partner and member states.

3.50pm – Discussion
4.10pm – RaISe Closing Remarks
4.15pm – Networking and Refreshments

  


 

16 NOVEMBER 2016

ABORTION POLICY AND LAW: KEY CONSIDERATIONS

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks 

1.45pm - Dr Kathryn McNeilly (QUB) - Beyond Article 8: The European Convention on Human Rights and Abortion in Cases of Fatal Foetal Abnormality and Sexual Crime
In November 2015 the Northern Ireland High Court determined prohibition of abortion in Northern Ireland in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and sexual crime incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This Article upholds the right to private and family life. While this was the only Article found to be violated by the High Court, submissions were also made to the Court on two other Articles of the Convention, namely the Article 3 right to be free from torture or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment and the Article 14 right to non-discrimination. This presentation will outline in an accessible way the legal background and reasoning for the Northern Ireland High Court’s determination on Article 8, but will also return to case law of the European Court of Human Rights to explain why further incompatibility may be found under Article 3. This is significant in understanding not only the potential for this case on appeal, but also for future development and discussion of domestic law in this area. 

2.05pm - Dr Fiona Bloomer (Ulster) and Dr Claire Pierson (Manchester Metropolitan University) - Morality policy under the lens - evidence based policy making on abortion versus myth-usage
This paper considers global trends in abortion policy using the framework of morality policy.  The authors will explain how the controversy over abortion policy restricts legal reform, resulting in legislative lacunae and non-decision making.  Using evidence from a British Academy funded analysis of debates in the Northern Ireland Assembly during the period 1998 to 2016, the authors demonstrate how such trends are visible in the Northern Ireland context.  The authors present examples of myths used in political debate in Northern Ireland and counter these myths with academic evidence drawn from systematic scientific reviews to illustrate the problematic nature of basing policy on morality rather than fact. 

2.25pm - Dr Lesley Hoggart, (OU) and Prof Sally Sheldon (Kent University) - Tensions in Abortion law and policy, and effects on women
This presentation will focus on the tensions between the legal and policy framework for abortion, and women’s abortion experiences, throughout the UK. First, we will report on a mixed methods study into different aspects of young women's experiences (aged 16-24) of one or more unintended pregnancies ending in abortion in England and Wales. One key finding was that despite most abortions following contraceptive failures, women still internalised shame and blame. This reflects the continued stigmatisation of abortion. We then draw on a recently completed study of the home use of abortion pills in Northern Ireland (and elsewhere), highlighting some of the ways in which the current law fails either to prevent abortion or to protect women’s health.  At a time when it is possible to end a pregnancy using pills that are readily available on line, it assesses some of the challenges for effective regulation and poses some fundamental questions regarding the need for legal reform. ​

2.45pm – Discussion 
3.15pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
3.20pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


 

23 NOVEMBER 2016

ECONOMY: INCENTIVISING INVESTMENT AND COMPETITIVENESS AND MANAGING PUBLIC DEBT

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks

1.45pm – Dr Gareth Campbell (QUB) – How should NI respond to Corporation Tax cuts in ROI and GB?
The Fresh Start Agreement committed the NI Executive to reducing the corporation tax rate in Northern Ireland to 12.5% from 2018. The intention was to make the tax rate in NI the same as in ROI, and lower than in GB. However, within the past year the Irish government has cut its tax rate on certain types of profits to just 6.25%. Meanwhile, the British government has promised to cut its tax on profits to 17%. Further corporation tax rate cuts in ROI are possible, and in GB are very likely. This research analyses how the NI Executive should respond. It argues that simply maintaining the 12.5% rate, the default approach, would be the worst possible option. Matching cuts on an ad hoc basis would be unlikely, and suboptimal even if it happened. A much better approach would be to publicly commit now to match any cuts in the GB rate, reducing the NI rate to 11.5% by 2020, and possibly to 7% by 2025 if the GB rate is cut further. The best approach would be to commit to more than match any cuts in the main rate of corporation tax, but leave the small profits tax rate unchanged.

2.05pm - Mr Richard Johnston and Miss Laura Heery (Ulster) - Competitiveness Scorecard for NI
Competitiveness is a key driver in the rate of economic growth and living standards.  Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre (UUEPC) developed the Competitiveness Scorecard on behalf of the Economic Advisory Group, taking a similar approach to the Republic of Ireland’s National Competitiveness Council.  The Scorecard benchmarks NI’s relative competitiveness against a range of competitor nations over a five-year period in more than 150 indicators.  There are eleven pillars that make up the Scorecard, including macroeconomic and fiscal sustainability, quality of life, environmental sustainability, business environment, business performance, education and skills and innovation, research and development.  The presentation will focus on outcomes (economic, quality of life and environmental), the economic environment (labour supply, productivity etc.) and policy drivers (Education and skills, Innovation R&D etc.)

In overall terms, NI’s competitiveness performance has improved marginally over the last 5 years, but remains below average for the countries analysed within the Scorecard.  In terms of individual pillars, NI performs well in the business environment, quality of life and business performance elements of the Scorecard.  In contrast, NI’s performs less well in terms of productivity, employment & labour supply and macro and fiscal sustainability elements.  The Competitiveness Scorecard acts as a barometer of relative competitiveness, acts as a useful tool to direct policy-makers towards the key issues that require intervention and also provides an indication of the scale of the challenge facing NI.

2.25pm – Discussion
2.45pm – Comfort Break

2.55pm - Dr Sharon McClements, Prof Martin Haran and Mr Andrew McErlane (Ulster) - Unlocking Benefits and Opportunities through Social Infrastructure
Research has established that social infrastructure provision positively influences economic growth and social development, and a review of historical spending in NI indicates an identified need to upgrade and replace social infrastructure. Yet, as the UK Government continues to implement its austerity policies, the NI Executive has been subject to imposed budgetary cuts and as a result, capital budgets have been restrained. Against this backdrop, there is a necessity to review social infrastructure provision policies and the mechanisms by which it is provided in NI.

Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) have been the predominant mechanism for large social infrastructure provision in the UK and will continue to be utilised through the new Private Finance 2 (PF2) model, introduced in 2013. Similarly, in the Scotland, the Scottish Futures Trust approach to infrastructure investment is based on joint ventures between the Scottish Territories and private sector partners. In providing the new NI Executive solution-based recommendations, this presentation deliberates on the application and compatibility of the strategic infrastructure investment approaches adopted by both UK and Scottish Governments as potential strategies for increased social infrastructure investment and the opportunity to enhance economic growth and social development in Northern Ireland.

3.15pm - Dr Dimitris P. Sotiropoulos (OU) - Options for public debt management
Austerity policies in the wake of the 2008 global financial meltdown have left a host of developed capitalist economies struggling with very high levels of sovereign indebtedness. Given that prospects for economic growth still remain anaemic, and that financial risks have not been completely eliminated, the recovery process is slow and fragile. Contemporary policy-making thus encounters an unusual debt overhang puzzle. How important is this issue for the European economies? Is there an easy way out? Should policy-makers continue to rely on ‘business as usual’, or should they seek answers in the unchartered waters of unorthodox solutions? How important is central banking to tackling the problem? Drawing on my policy proposal for the resolution to the European sovereign debt overhang and my book on the political economy of contemporary financialised capitalism, the seminar will discuss a number of policy options in relation to how public debt can be managed in a sustainable way. The key lessons to policy-makers are that economies with weak currencies are better off within monetary unions and that unorthodox central bank policies are the only means to overcome the contradictions of a monetary union in the absence of fiscal integration.

3.35pm – Discussion   
4.05pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
4.10pm – Networking and Refreshments

  


 

14 DECEMBER 2016

CHILDREN AND YOUNG PERSONS’ ATTITUDES AND EXPERIENCES

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks

1.45pm – Dr Stefanie Doebler (University of Liverpool), Dr Ruth McAreavey, Prof Sally Shortall and Dr Ian Shuttleworth (QUB) – Negativity toward immigrant out-groups among Northern Ireland’s Youth – are younger cohorts becoming more tolerant?
Negativity toward immigrants is a known problem in Northern Ireland. Media reports of racist hate crimes have been so frequent that Northern Ireland was famously dubbed the ‘race hate capital of Europe’. There exist several accounts on this, but the current knowledge-base has gaps regarding young people’s attitudes, and there is a lack of cohort comparisons. This paper examines cohort differences in, and predictors of negativity toward immigrant out-groups in Northern Ireland using data from the Northern Ireland Life and Times (NILT) and Young Life and Times (YLT) surveys 2004 to 2013. The main focus is on young people aged 16 and 18 to 24 years. Findings: Negativity toward immigrants has increased in recent years across all, but the youngest cohort. Segregation, sectarian attitudes and type of school are important predictors. Living in segregated areas and
preference for a segregated neighbourhood are positively and social contacts and (religiously) mixed schooling negatively related to negativity toward immigrants. However, for the 16 year olds, not mixed schooling, but other school characteristics are statistically associated with lower levels of outgroup negativity.

2.05pm – Dr Gemma M. Carney and Dr Paula Devine (QUB) - Children’s attitudes towards old age: findings from the Kids Life and Times Survey 2015
Mindful of Northern Ireland’s history of religious and ethnic segregation, this paper investigates another, more prevalent form of segregation: age segregation. Public policy tends to divide people into age groups by virtue of the ‘natural’ association of childhood with schooling, middle age with work and old age with retirement. Leading scholars have argued that this age segregation can lead to absence of mutual understanding between generations, arguing that age segregation is a root cause of ageist social attitudes (Hagestad and Uhlenberg, 2006). This contention has not been tested, and as a result, little is known about what children think about ageing and older people. For these reasons, questions about ageing and older people were included in the 2014 Kids’ Life and Times (KLT) Survey, exploring the opinions of 10 and 11 years olds to ageing and ageism. We report the views of 4,757 10 and 11-year-old children, living in Northern Ireland. We present some timely and significant results which offer new research questions for policy-makers interested in how population ageing affects all age groups, particularly when societies are segregated along age lines.

2.25pm - Dr Dirk Schubotz, Dr Katrina Lloyd and Dr Martina McKnight (QUB) - A Question of Sport: Perspectives of Children and Young People
In 2015 ARK surveyed children and young people, who were at the end of their primary and post-primary education respectively, about their experiences of sport and physical activity. A module of questions on sport was included in the Kids Life and Times (KLT) survey of P7 children and the Young Life and Times (YLT) survey of 16-year olds. Approximately 5,200 10 and 11 year olds and 1,200 16-year olds responded. The survey included questions about the extent of regular physical activity and sport undertaken both inside and outside of school; about encouraging and prohibiting factors in relation to taking part in sport; self-assessed health; the role of sports idols; and enjoyment of sports. At this seminar we will present the key findings from this research. We will discuss how experience of, and access to, sport varies by gender, socio-economic background and rurality. We will also report on what type of physical activities children and young people most enjoy, and how the available infrastructure meets their needs.

2.45pm – Discussion 
3.15pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
3.20pm – Networking and Refreshments

  


 

18 JANUARY 2017

PRISON REFORM

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks 

1.45pm - Dr Michelle Butler (QUB) - The Northern Ireland Prison Reform Programme: Progress Made and Challenges Remaining
With the devolution of justice powers to the Stormont Assembly following the Hillsborough Agreement (2010), a commitment was given to undertake a review of prison conditions, management and oversight. The findings emerging from this review fed into a significant penal reform programme which was launched in 2011 (DOJNI, 2011). In the final report emerging from this review, 40 recommendations were put forward, outlining “the kind of prison system that could and should be constructed” (Prison Review Team, 2011: 5). The achievement of these 40 recommendations have been used by many as a barometer to judge the success of these reforms. Drawing on publically available administrative data, this presentation will reflect on the reform journey so far. Key achievements will be reviewed before moving on to discuss some of the main challenges remaining. Comparisons will be drawn with other jurisdictions and insights from academia will be put forward to demonstrate how evidence-based research can be used to inform policy development, practice and reform.

2.05pm – Discussion
2.35pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
2.40pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


 

25 JANUARY 2017

LABOUR MARKET AND EMPLOYMENT: CURRENT THEMES

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks  

1.45pm - Dr John Moriarty, Dr David Wright, Dr Dermot O’Reilly and Professor Allen Thurston (QUB) – Social Mobility in Northern Ireland
Both the 2008 and 2011 Programmes for Government placed economic growth and creation of enhanced high skill labour market opportunities to the fore among the strategic priorities for Northern Ireland. Intertwined with these objectives is an emphasis on the key role of improved educational attainment in driving opportunities for social mobility. Unfortunately, social mobility has been difficult to quantify satisfactorily, due to a lack of suitable datasets. However, data linking successive Census returns have recently become available, allowing for comparison of labour market progression between persons from different socioeconomic backgrounds. This seminar will demonstrate how such linked longitudinal data can be used as evidence of:
     a. The extent of both absolute mobility (i.e. changes to occupational socioeconomic structures over time, both upwards and downwards) and of relative mobility (rates of movement between socioeconomic classes);
     b. The extent to which key factors such as an individual’s gender, education attainment or history of disability may affect their opportunities for socioeconomic progression; and,
     c. The relative importance of macro-level socioeconomic structures versus individual-level opportunities for upward mobility.

The seminar will conclude with an overview of how further linkage with administrative records around education are enabling us to further disentangle the routes to greater economic opportunity.

2.05pm – Prof Duncan McVicar (QUB) - Zero Hours Contracts, Job Quality and Impacts on Workers
Seven years on from the Great Recession, survey data suggest that the use of zero hours contracts (ZHCs) in the UK labour market continues to grow rapidly. In some sectors, such as care working, incidence may be over 50%. This seminar will begin by summarising what we know from existing studies on the prevalence of ZHCs across recent years and across industries and socio-demographic groups at the UK level. We will then consider what we can learn about the prevalence of ZHCs in Northern Ireland from existing survey data. Finally, we will consider the impact of ZHCs on worker outcomes such as wages and job satisfaction. 

2.25pm – Dr Matt Jennings (Ulster) – ‘Quality of Life’: inclusion and resilience in community cultural development
Work within the arts sector is often precarious, inequitable and underpaid. Yet policy bodies increasingly recognise the social and economic benefits of the creative industries and cultural development. Management research has identified the flexible approach of arts organisations as a model for workplace relations everywhere. Yet the resilience of cultural workers can be tested when their livelihood is threatened. This can have serious implications for the communities with whom they work. This presentation will examine working conditions within the community arts sector of Northern Ireland, drawing on interviews with 20 experienced artists from a range of disciplines and backgrounds. All helped to deliver the Derry/Londonderry City of Culture 2013 and continue to provide vital support for: the wellbeing of older people, people with mental health issues and disabilities; the education of young people and children; and peacebuilding and social development. The findings demonstrate the complexity, commitment and resourcefulness of their working lives. However, increasingly they are working outside of the region or leaving the community sector.  This presentation raises concerns for cultural inclusion within the new Department of Communities, but will also suggest innovative measures that could allow the sector to thrive, drawing on international examples of policy and practice.

2.45pm – Discussion 
3.15pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
3.20pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


 

08 FEBRUARY 2017

OBESITY: KEY CONSIDERATIONS

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks  

1.45pm - Dr Toni McAloon, Prof Vivien Coates and Professor Donna Fitzsimons (Ulster) - Halting the rise of Obesity: making every clinical contact count
Obesity is a major 21st century health challenge, contributing to chronic illnesses and presents a serious threat to world health. Obesity is associated with more deaths than underweight/malnutrition, imposing a serious financial burden on struggling health services. Northern Ireland has 60% prevalence of adult overweight/obesity and reduction is a priority in the HSC Commissioning Plan Direction 2016/17. Global, national and local guidelines aim to halt its rise by 2025; yet no country is on track to achieve these. Current obesity reduction strategies are failing; with professionals challenged to promote best practice. Clinicians’ beliefs/attitudes are potential barriers to implementing effective strategies. Whilst current research emphasises clinician anti-fat bias, there is no triangulation of bias with clinical outcomes to determine impact. This paper presents innovative research addressing this deficit through estimating the degree of anti-fat bias in a multidisciplinary sample and examining associations with clinical behaviour. These findings break new ground and contribute to the development and implementation of ‘Transforming Your Care’ agenda and future policies to reduce obesity and associated health care costs. This work is timely with the chief nurses of the 5 countries, including the Republic of Ireland, calling for professional action on obesity reduction as a 2016 priority.

2.05pm - Prof Marie Murphy (Ulster) - Sit Less - Move More. Reducing sedentary behaviour to improve health in overweight and obesity
There is strong relationship between time spent in sitting and many health outcomes including, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Sedentary behaviour is defined as waking activity with very low levels of energy expenditure and a sitting or reclining posture (SBRN 2012). In modern society sedentary behaviour in adults has become increasingly prevalent with TV viewing and other screen-focused behaviours, prolonged sitting in the workplace, and time spent sitting in cars taking up most of our waking hours. Objective data suggests that UK men and women actually spend approximately 7.5 and 7 hours per day respectively being sedentary (Ekelund 2009). Conversely, interrupting sedentary time and/or replacing it with light-intensity activity has been shown to improve several markers of health. Obesity may act as a mediator between sedentary behaviours and negative health outcomes with more sedentary people more likely to become overweight and obese which then has an impact on health (Same 2016). This presentation will review a range of local, national and international interventions aimed at the individual, environmental and policy levels to reduce sedentary behaviour making policy recommendations to guide future approaches to this important objective.

2.25pm – Discussion
2.45pm – Comfort Break

2.55pm – Prof Alison Gallagher, Dr Angela Carlin and Prof Marie Murphy (Ulster) - Teenage girls heading for a lifetime of ill-health. Using the school environment to enhance health-related behaviours: shared experiences and suggested future approaches
Aside from home, children and adolescents spend more time in school than in any other setting. As such schools represent a key environment for promoting of health-related behaviours. Additionally, use of the school-setting has the potential to overcome health inequalities, as all children and adolescents are able to participate irrespective of socioeconomic status. Central to success is ensuring interventions are both effective as well as sustainable in the longer-term. It is important that policy makers, researchers and practitioners actively consult with their target population to gain an understanding of how best to promote the health-behaviour, as well as identify any barriers/ facilitators, thereby informing the content of future interventions. In the UK, children from Northern Ireland are least likely to meet current physical activity recommendations than their counterparts elsewhere. Transition from primary to second-level education represents a time when physical inactivity and sedentary behaviours may increase, especially in adolescent girls. This presentation will share recent data on the development and implementation of a peer- led school-based brisk walking intervention (the WISH study) and will review evidence in relation to what works and suggested ways forward which target this key environment as a means of effectively promoting positive health-related behaviours.

3.15pm - Dr Liz Simpson, Dr Marian McLaughlin and Prof Tony Cassidy (Ulster) - Health psychology: Behaviour change for health and well-being in adults and children in Northern Ireland
A number of health psychology researchers are working in the area of behaviour change within Northern Ireland.  The aim of this seminar is to provide an overview of how health psychology theories are being used to design more effective interventions to improve health and well-being in different groups and across a range of health related behaviours in Northern Ireland.  Some theories of behaviour change such as The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) has been endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as an evidence-based way of predicting health related behaviour and a framework for designing interventions.  Within this seminar, we will look at how theories of behaviour change are being used, and in collaboration with Public Health bodies such as Cancer Focus NI, the Public Health Agency and Chest Heart and Stroke NI to develop and deliver more effective behaviour change interventions focusing on physical activity, dietary intake and e-cigarette use. Such theories can be applied to a number of health related behaviours, both at a community and clinical setting, that represent health inequalities and considerable risk for the development of chronic conditions, such as obesity and coronary heart disease and poor health outcomes. This seminar will showcase ongoing research and how health psychology can contribute to Public health.

3.35pm –Discussion
4.05pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
4.10pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


 

15 FEBRUARY 2017

USING ADMINISTRATIVE DATA TO INFORM POLICY

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks

1.45pm - Prof Gillian Robinson, Prof Helen Dolk, Dr Joanne Given and Ms Lizanne Dowds (Ulster) - Public attitudes to data sharing in Northern Ireland
Government and other organisations gather information about people under assumptions that the data will remain confidential and not be passed on to any other organisations. Recent debate has focused on data linkage and the great potential that it could have for public good. Effective sharing and linking of medical and other social data is potentially a game-changer in advances in health and social wellbeing. However, the conflict between this clear potential, and the importance of protecting individual privacy of the public is an ongoing issue. This seminar focuses on this topic with a particular focus on health data in a local context. The seminar will discuss the results of a survey on public attitudes to data sharing that was carried out as a part of the 2015 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey (NILT).  As well as providing a valuable insight into local public opinions on such an important issue, this piece of research provides a baseline of public attitudes to data sharing that can be reassessed regularly. The findings of this local research can inform policy on data sharing between government departments and for research. and feed into the wider public debate on the issue of data sharing.

2.05pm - Dr Saul M. Goldenand Mr Lindesay Dawe (Ulster) – A Fresh Look at Community Engagement and Regeneration: Toward Good Practice and Innovative Policy in Northern Ireland
The Fresh Start Agreement sets out three key aspects of public consultation-engagement: To enhance decision-making, to improve the acceptability of decisions reached, and to build capacity internally and externally for improved relationships and stakeholder input to political processes. This evidence-based seminar will examine current policies, research and strategies for more effective public/stakeholder engagement on larger regeneration initiatives. The presentation is based on data gathered from a symposium carried out by Belfast School of Architecture and Urban Research Lab in June 2016, and additional data collected through anonymous surveys and written feedback from public-private stakeholders involved in consultations for Belfast city-centre regeneration initiatives during 2012-2015. The June 2016 symposium brought together academics with statutory and third sector representatives to appraise tools and processes that inform development policy for all stakeholders concerned with urban and rural regeneration across Northern Ireland. The research provides an insight into deliberations on policy and skills capacity to addresses consultation fatigue through good decision-making practice and more effective policy implementation. Outcomes include an appraisal of models and tools that can inform policy to better articulate community need, and to better integrate government and other agencies in community engagement and planning processes.

2.25pm – Discussion
2.45pm – Comfort Break

2.55pm - Dr Markus Ketola and Dr Ciaran Hughes (Ulster) - Independence of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector in Northern Ireland: Lessons for government-voluntary sector relations
This seminar presents findings from new research that investigates the independence of voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) in Northern Ireland. Commissioned by the Building Change Trust, the research draws on survey results, interviews and focus groups with respondents from both the voluntary sector and government, offering an insight into how the dynamics of the relationship between government and the VSCE sector impact on the sector’s independence of voice, purpose and action. The data presents a complex and nuanced picture that outlines a number of tensions between the VSCE sector and government that help us better understand the challenges to independence. The aims of the seminar are twofold. First, to offer insights to the constantly evolving relationship between government and the sector. Second, to suggest how to develop the relationship further in ways that continue to support the independence of the VSCE sector.

3.15pm - Dr Jacqueline Baxter (OU) - The Strategic School Governor: School Governor Understandings of Strategy in Federated School Structures
Strategy plays a key role in school governance- a key area within education policy-making in Northern Ireland: Governing boards are held to account on their ability to strategically lead the school. In federated structures: chains and multi academy trusts (MATs). Their strategic role is vitally important in managing areas such as school growth, outsourcing and expansion. Yet research in this area tends to suggest that many boards still struggle and that even for experienced governors, moving into multi-level governance in federated structures introduces a range of new challenges for growth, direction and mission. This paper draws on qualitative data from 50 interviews carried out with board members in school federations, (Wilkins, 2014, Baxter, 2014), to analyse governor perceptions on strategic role of governors. Using a framework for strategy (Johnson and Scholes, 2000), the study analyses governor’s strategic role, investigating their understandings, perceptions and action within this important area. The research concludes that although governors are comfortable with monitoring of existing strategy they are far less confident in setting and monitoring strategic direction for groups of schools, and that this is a key area for governor training and development in the future.

3.35pm – Discussion 
4.05pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
4.10pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


 

22 FEBRUARY 2017

PARENTS/MOTHERS AND CHILDREN

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks

1.45pm - Dr Mark McGovern (QUB), Dr Giampiero Marra (University College London), Dr Rosalba Radice (University of London) and Dr Slawa Rokicki (University College Dublin) - Breastfeeding Promotion as an Economic Investment
Not only are rates of breastfeeding low in Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK, but there are substantial inequalities with mothers living in the least deprived wards twice as likely to breastfeed as those living in the most deprived wards. Previous evidence demonstrates that children who are breastfed are healthier and have better educational outcomes, however it is important to assess whether these benefits persist into adulthood. This presentation demonstrates the impact of being breastfed as a child on adult economic and cognitive outcomes. Using data from the National Child Development Study (NCDS), a nationally representative sample of British infants born in one week in 1958, we show that cohort members who were breastfed for a month or more (compared to not being breastfed) score substantially higher on memory tests at age 50, and their household income is 8 percentage points higher. Therefore, differential rates of breastfeeding by parental socioeconomic status perpetuates intergenerational transmission of disadvantage. We discuss how increasing rates of breastfeeding in Northern Ireland provides a low-cost means of investing in the futures of mothers and children and improving inequalities, and illustrate why breastfeeding promotion strategies are likely to have substantial economic benefits in the long-run.

 2.05pm - Mr Iain McGowan, Dr Lucy Thompson and Prof Phil Wilson (University of Aberdeen) - Mellow Parenting: Caring for vulnerable mothers
Pregnancy and childbirth are traditionally recognised as life events that are to be cherished and celebrated. However, recent official reports of deaths by suicide, including a recent report of the Confidential Enquiry on Maternal and Child Health have raised awareness of the potential dangers of mental health problems to mothers during pregnancy and in the first year after giving birth. The long-term impact of maternal ill-health has negative impacts on the emotional, social, educational and physical development of the child. A number of programmes are in existence to support mothers, however these have been criticised for being too expensive, too narrow in focus and not effective. Mellow Parenting, as an intervention, has been delivered in both the Southern & South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust. The Public Health Agency has funded these programmes. This presentation focuses on the role that the Mellow Parenting intervention has on the emotional and mental well-being of vulnerable mothers. Drawing on data from a recent systematic review the presentation will be contextualised with findings from local evaluations of the programme. The presentation aims to help inform social, health, mental health and other polices that are relevant to mental health in this group of people

2.25pm – Prof Marlene Sinclair (Ulster) - Harnessing Modern Technology to Inform Policy on the Appropriate Use of Technology in Childbirth
Technological interventions in childbirth such as ultrasonography for fetal assessment, prostin for induction of labour, cardio tocography for fetal monitoring and epidural anaesthesia for pain relief are older ‘”Z” generation technologies that have been superseded by the new personalised medicine platforms offering services such as: genetic profiling, epigenetics, personalised medicine, 4D scanning and easy access to a mushrooming online market of cheap, easily accessed, hand held devices and Apps. Online purchasing is the new ‘buzzy behaviour’ for pregnant women who are increasing their purchasing behaviour in an Internet where suppliers are not regulated for pregnancy safety standards. Visioning the future for the new alpha generation requires a focus on issues of safety, monitoring, regulation and evaluation of the impact of new technologies. The process requires multiple layers of various data obtained from key players in maternity care including mothers, partners, professionals and various external agents. Technology itself can be harnessed to assist in this process. The discussion will be on how to use modern technology to engage the public in debate about developing appropriate policies for effective use of technology in childbirth.

2.45pm – Discussion 
3.15pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
3.20pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


 

08 MARCH 2017

MENTAL HEALTH: TREATMENTS AND INTERVENTIONS

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks

1.45pm - Dr Karen Kirby, Ms Orla Mc Devitt-Petrovic, Dr Orla McBride, Prof Mark Shevlin, Dr Donal McAteer, Dr Colin Gorman and Dr Jamie Murphy (Ulster) - A New Mental Health Service Model for NI: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Low Intensity CBT (LI-CBT)
In 2010, the Strategy for the Development of Psychological Therapy Services in NI proposed a step care framework (SCF) as the most efficient model of mental health service delivery. A core feature of the SCF was that those with anxiety and depression would receive early interventions with a treatment that was shown to work. Despite the fact that early interventions such as LI-CBT are the most strongly evidenced interventions for depression and anxiety (NICE, 2009), and are shown to save money in the long term (London School of Economics, 2012), we do not currently have a service framework that formally applies this evidence, by training and employing specialist therapists to work in early intervention. Those with mild to moderate depression and anxiety who would greatly benefit from this service are thus missing out. At Ulster University we have therefore trained approximately 30 LI-CBT therapists to meet the developing service demands (treating approximately 500 clients), and while they are on placement, we are routinely monitoring their effectiveness on a session by session basis. The researchers at Ulster aim to evaluate the efficacy of this service model, based on the criteria of reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms below a clinical threshold, while being standardised against national rates for recovery, are thus demonstrated.

2.05pm - Dr Claire McCauley, Prof Hugh Mc Kenna, Dr Sinead Keeney and Dr Derek McLaughlin (Ulster) – ‘Surviving out of the Ashes’: An exploration of Mental Health Recovery in Young Adulthood in Northern Ireland
In response to the Bamford Review (2005) recommendations, the Service Framework for Mental Health and Well-being (DHSSPS 2010) indicated mental health recovery must be at the heart of all service and strategy development. This, the first study of its kind, explored young adult service user’s perspectives on mental health recovery in NI. This research identifies the factors that most impact on recovery. It proposes that there must be a definition of mental health recovery, personalised for young people here, and that their experiences must be used to inform decisions on service provision. It finds that the considerable risks to young adult’s lives of a generic and service orientated understanding of mental health recovery must be understood by legislators and policy-makers. The research findings make an important, positive contribution to our understanding of mental health recovery, and to the policy changes and service developments that are ultimately required to help service users. For example, findings indicate specific and targetable barriers, the removal of which would significantly improve a young adult’s perception of the achievability of mental health recovery in their life. Findings also identify specific areas in which tailored information, education and service provision are able to significantly promote the process of mental health recovering in the young adult demographic. The briefing will identify the actions policy-makers can take to ensure mental health recovery is understood and articulated by young adults to provide them with an effective wellness strategy for life.

2.25pm – Discussion
2.45pm – Comfort Break

2.55pm – Prof Chris Nugent, Prof Sally McClean and Dr Ian Cleland (Ulster) - The empowering role of smartphones in behaviour change interventions: The Gray Matters Study
The use of mobile apps are being claimed to have the ability to support a range of health and social care problems.  Their use is, however, surrounded by widespread scepticism due to the lack of clinical evidence of their effectiveness which subsequently hinders their widespread use.  This seminar will provide clinical evidence on the positive effects of mobile apps as a means of delivering behaviour change and reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  The Gray Matters Study, a 6-month pilot study with 104 participants using the Gray Matters app, aimed to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, whilst in the short-term promoting vascular health. The Gray Matters app was designed to facilitate the delivery of intervention material, recording of user behaviours and presentation of performance feedback. Results indicated that recording behaviours and achievement of daily targets were correlated to favourable improvements in biological and clinical markers, with significance in reducing BMI and correlation with cholesterol levels. Further analysis indicated that 69.2% of those who achieved more than 60% of their daily targets reduced their BMI during the study. In summary, the Gray Matters app excelled as a method to deliver intervention material, and simultaneously encourage and monitor behaviour change.

3.15pm Prof Owen Barr, Dr Elizabeth Gallagher, Dr Laurence Taggart, Prof Siobhan O’Neill and Prof Angela Hassiotis (University College Limerick), Mr Paul Webb (Praxis) - Examining the difference in how residential facilities support people with intellectual disabilities with challenging behaviour and/or mental health problems live in the community
Over the last 30 years’ services for people with learning disabilities in NI have been transformed with community services. The ‘Equal Live’ Report (2005) and Learning Disability Service Framework document (2012) strongly emphasise supporting people with learning disabilities to be supported in the community. Although, this has generally been quite successful, the development of community living has not been without its challenges as some people can present with challenging behaviours and/or mental health problems. The present study was a 3-year project funded by the HSC R&D Division. It was carried out with the aim to investigate potential differences between two groupings of residential facilities for people with learning disabilities and/or challenging behaviours, one of which has experienced higher rates of hospital admissions, and one of which has successfully maintained people in the community. Staff from across the five HSCTs in NI participated by completing a number of standardised questionnaires and interviews, as well as family members and service users in both groups. Key findings highlight differences in terms of approaches of support, leadership and managerial structure across these two settings. The findings will be discussed and implications/recommendations for both policy and practice will be highlighted.

3.35pm – Discussion
4.05pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
4.10pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


 

22 MARCH 2017

LANGUAGE IN EDUCATION

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks  

1.45pm - Dr Sharon Jones (Stranmillis University College) - Languages in Primary Schools in Northern Ireland
The current deficit in skills in modern languages is economically detrimental (Foreman-Peck and Wang, 2013), not least to the growth of the export base (Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, 2014). Evidence suggests that learning a modern language should begin at primary school (Lenneberg, 1967; Jones and Coffey, 2006) as this increases self-esteem, enthusiasm, and positive attitudes to later learning (Hawkins, 1974, 1999; DfES, 2002; Jones and Coffey, 2013). As Northern Ireland’s primary schools become increasingly multicultural (Kernaghan, 2015), intercultural education facilitated by modern language learning is increasingly relevant (Richardson and Gallagher, 2011; Purdy and Ferguson, 2012; Jones, 2015), addressing racial prejudice early (Sharpe, 2001, p. 35). While primary school children in Scotland and England will learn at least one additional language, Northern Ireland has ‘the shortest period of compulsory foreign language learning in Europe’ (British Council, 2015). This presentation draws on recent research into current practice and teacher and pupil views in primary schools across Northern
Ireland (Jones et al, 2016), to conclude that foreign language learning should be made a statutory part of the Northern Ireland Curriculum, thus affording the opportunities of modern language learning to our young people, and its economic and cultural benefits to our region.

2.05pm - Mr Ian Collen (QUB) - Transition from Primary Language Programmes to Post-Primary Language Provision
As in England, entries for GCSE and A-level languages in Northern Ireland have declined annually since 2004 (CCEA/JCQ). To redress this decline, languages are now compulsory from Primary 5 to Primary 7 in England. In Scotland, two languages will be compulsory at primary level from 2020. This has led to a focus in educational research on transition in modern languages (Chambers, 2014; Courtney, 2014). In Northern Ireland, there is a patchwork of schools offering various modern languages at primary level (Purdy, Siberry & Beale, 2010), but recent research (Collen, McKendry & Henderson, 2016) indicates that primary pupils perceive modern languages to have a low status, that there is no evidence of effective transition in modern languages between primary and post-primary schools and that there is a need to make language learning statutory at primary level, if our pupils are to be afforded the same opportunities as pupils in England and Scotland, and be prepared to compete in a globalised employment market. This presentation draws on recent research into models of delivery of primary languages, taking
cognisance of the need for effective transition to post-primary education, and suggests ways in which statutory modern languages should be introduced in Northern Ireland.

2.25pm – Prof Kieron Sheehy (OU) - Inclusive Practice through Keyword Signing – Addressing barriers to accessible classrooms
This seminar will present evidence that having an accessible communicative environment is the core of inclusive educational practice, facilitating positive outcomes for diverse groups of learners (Sheehy et al. 2009). One effective communicate approach is keyword signing (KWS), which typically samples the manual signs of a country’s Deaf community. For example, British Sign Language is the basis of the Makaton vocabulary used in Northern Ireland. KWS signs accompany only the key word(s) in spoken sentences and so provides sign-supported communication, rather than a sign language. There is extensive evidence of the educational and social benefits to support using KWS. It has also been seen as a potential way to give some children a voice  within the criminal justice and safeguarding system (Bunting et al. 2015), addressing the mental health needs of people with learning difficulties (Devine & Taggart 2008) and a  professional training need for  school staff (McConkey & Abbott 2011). However, there are significant barriers which impede its use in schools and communities.  This seminar will illustrate the nature of these barriers through our research in developing of  KWS Signalong Indonesia (Sheehy & Budiyanto 2014). It will discuss how these difficult barriers might be tackled and the challenges this presents for policy makers with an inclusive agenda.

2.45pm – Discussion  
3.15pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
3.20pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


 

29 MARCH 2017

ADDRESSING AUTISM

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks

1.45pm - Prof Karola Dillenburger, Dr Lyn McKerr and Dr Julie-Ann Jordan (QUB) - Preventing poverty and social exclusion for those affected by autism and their families
Autism rates in Northern Ireland are rising by 0.2 annually and now stand at 2.3% in the school population. The cost to society for autism is £34billion in the UK, more than cancer, strokes, and heart disease combined; 36% of this cost is for adult services. The NI government has invested heavily in autism diagnosis and autism services.  However, services are still not meeting the needs of those directly affected by autism and their families; and there is a feeling that the money is not always spent wisely. A major study was funded by OFMDFM (2012-2016) to explore poverty and social exclusion of children and adults affected by autism and their families, and to make policy and practice recommendations. In this presentation we will present data from all 4 phases of this study: (1) A thorough literature review exposed gaps in service provision; (2) An adult population survey (NILTS autism module) identified levels of autism awareness and attitudes; (3) A comprehensive secondary data analysis of existing data banks exposed levels of poverty and deprivation; and, (4) Detailed qualitative data analysis looked at staff training and gave voice to those on the autism spectrum and their families. Data from the research will be reported and recommendations outlined, including making cost-savings. 

2.05pm – Prof Mickey Keenan (Ulster) - Evidence and Policy: How to help families of children diagnosed with autism in Northern Ireland

Currently in the USA, 44 States have introduced legislation to ensure that parents have access to Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) for the treatment of autism; hundreds of major companies have also made ABA available under their health insurance policies for workers. The supporting evidence to introduce this legislation will be outlined as well as the training standards for professionals trained in ABA. This information will provide a basis for contrasting how ABA is viewed in Northern Ireland and in the UK in general. I will show how misinformation by professionals with no training in ABA has resulted in misinformation influencing politicians charged with developing policy for helping families of children diagnosed with autism (http://theconversation.com/science-that-could-improve-the-lives-of-people-with-autism-is-being-ignored-39951).

2.25pm – Discussion
2.45pm – Comfort Break

2.55pm – Dr Ilona Roth (OU) -  Autism: a cross-cultural perspective on service provision and capacity building
Prevalence estimates for autism in the western world have risen substantially over recent years, most probably reflecting a combination of increasing public awareness, wider inclusion criteria and improved diagnostic services. Many gaps and inequalities of services and support remain, especially in relation to adults and to deprived and ethnic minority communities. There is growing recognition of these needs and of the political, practical and educational initiatives necessary to address them.  However, autism is now widely recognised to be a global problem. Many difficulties faced by individuals with autism and their families in Lower and Middle Income Countries (LAMIC) resemble those in the western world, but have strikingly greater scale and impact in these settings. Moreover, a western approach to resolving gaps in diagnosis, intervention and other forms of service provision often does not translate well to LAMIC situations and cultures.   A recent collaboration between academics at The Open University and the University of Addis Ababa sheds light on the situation in Ethiopia, where poor awareness of autism, together with high levels of stigma and extremely limited service provision serve as a stark example of the challenges to be addressed worldwide. This presentation will discuss findings from this research, and outline some of the initiatives undertaken as first steps in seeking to address these problems.

3.15pm – Prof Jonathan Rix (OU) - Global Challenges for Inclusive and Special Education – Exploring solutions within a Community of Provision
This seminar builds upon a study undertaken for the National Council for Special Education in the Republic of Ireland, examining the continuum of special education globally (Rix, Sheehy, Fletcher-Campbell, Crisp & Harper, 2013). This involved a systematic literature review of the multitude of continua associated with special education, followed by a review of policy in 50 countries, and then a further detailed examination of 11 administrations. Although this review did not include Northern Ireland, the seminar will present findings and a framework of analysis which will have direct relevance to the experiences of Northern Ireland’s policy-makers and practitioners. The Community of Provision (CoPro) was developed to explore the challenges of the systems in the study. It is defined by the settings and services that work together to provide a service within a locality. The nature of the CoPro will vary nationally and locally and be dependent upon the individuals concerned. It is intended to encapsulate complex societal support systems, assisting the thinking of decision-makers and researchers and underlining the need to focus their efforts across all arenas of practice. (Rix, J., Sheehy, K., Fletcher-Campbell, F., Crisp, M. & Harper, A. (2013) Continuum of Education Provision for Children with Special Educational Needs: Review of International Policies and Practices. (Volumes 1&2.) National Council for Special Education, Trim.)

3.35pm – Discussion  
4.05pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
4.10pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


 

05 APRIL 2017

WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks

1.45pm – Prof Joan Ballantine, Dr Graeme Banks, Prof Kathryn Haynes, Dr Melina Manochin and Mr Tony Wall (Ulster) - Gender Equality in the Northern Ireland Public Sector - a View from the Top
The highly contentious issue of gender equality with regard to executive and non-executive director positions has received considerable attention in the context of the private sector. However, substantially less is known about gender equality issues at the senior levels of the public sector, including that of NI. While the limited statistics available for NI indicate that males dominate senior positions, there is a lack of data which enable an understanding of why this is the case.  In this presentation we report on the final stage of an OFMDFM funded research project which involved 107 in-depth interviews with male and female current and aspiring executives, employed across the NI public sector. We report on the findings with respect to a number of themes including, gender culture, work life balance and promoting gender equality at senior levels. The presentation will conclude with recommendations to improve gender equality within the NI public sector.  The research is timely given the recently published draft Programme for Government Framework 2016-21, which was surprisingly silent on the issue of gender equality in the workplace

2.05pm - Dr Clem Herman, Dr Elaine Thomas and Dr Katie Chicot (OU) - Returning to STEM: interventions to support women returners after career breaks
The ratio of male to females employed in STEM-related industries in NI is 3 to 1, yet although the business case for gender equality in STEM has been well recognised in NI policy, little attention has been paid to date to the potential presented by women returning from career breaks. The persistence of normative gendered career pathways and gendered organisational cultures in STEM sectors present barriers to those who have non-linear or unconventional career trajectories. In this presentation we will showcase two new resources launched last year by The Open University (OU) – Reboot Your STEM Career and Returning to STEM - the latest in a succession of interventions by the OU to encourage and support women in their STEM careers. The resources were developed following a longitudinal research project that tracked women’s career progression over a five-year period and identified five key success strategies for returning to STEM work (foot in the door, networking, back to basics, retraining and helping hand). Case studies highlighted in the resources can be used by NI policy-makers to support women resuming and progressing their careers and interviews with STEM employers illustrate the benefits to companies of developing internships specifically aimed at returners.

2.25pm – Discussion 
2.55pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
3.00pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


 

26 APRIL 2017

FARMERS: BUREAUCRACY AND STRESS

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks

1.45pm - Mrs Ursula Walsh (Ulster) - Regulation and bureaucracy – a significant source of Framers’ stress
Farming is a very stressful occupation and ranks in the top ten job groups with a high mortality from suicide.  This presentation aims to highlight the results of recent research (involving over 90 Northern Ireland farmers) that found that bureaucracy remains a significant cause of stress to farmers.  Farmers reported that particular issues, including inflexible deadlines and excessive paperwork, exacerbated the problem.  The government's policy of electronic by default, puts particular burdens on those farmers with limited IT skills and poor internet connections.  The 2014 review of Northern Ireland business red tape ‘Making Life Simpler: Improving Business Regulation in NI’, made several recommendations including the implementation of the principles of regulatory reform such as proportionality, collaboration, support and regard for economic growth.  Despite these recommendations, the farmers who participated in this research overwhelmingly reported that paperwork continued to be a considerable burden and cause of stress. These findings are not only concerning with regard to the mental health of individual farmers, but also within the context of adding to the pressures on these, mainly, small businesses.

2.05pm – Discussion    
2.55pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
3.00pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


 

10 MAY 2017

PREVENTATIVE HEALTH: NEW DEVELOPMENTS

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks

1.45pm - Dr Joe Duffy, Dr Gavin Davidson (QUB), Dr Subhajit Basu (Leeds University) and Prof Katherine Pearson (Penn State University) - Modernising Adult Social Care in Northern Ireland
This seminar presentation will focus on the key findings from research this team published for the Commissioner for Older People Northern Ireland (COPNI) in June 2015, the full report can be accessed here: http://www.copni.org/images/publications/COPNI_Report_-_03_June_2015.pdf . One of the innovative recommendations from this research for modernising adult social care was that Northern Ireland should consider the introduction of a Preventative/Support Visit for all older people once they reach the age of 75. The Preventative Visit is legally mandated in Denmark through the Consolidation Act on Social Services (2013) where, in Section 79a of this Act, this is described as follows: “The municipal council shall offer preventive home visits to all citizens who have attained the age of 75 and are residents of the municipality. The municipal council shall offer at least one annual preventive home visit.” (Part 14, Section 79a, Consolidation Act no.1093 of 5 September 2013). Furthermore, it is noted that: “the Preventive Visit has been introduced after several randomised controlled trial studies proved this service cost-efficient in that it reduces the risk of becoming hospitalised or admitted to a nursing home, and proved to have a positive effect on mortality” (Rostgaard, 2012:78). The focus of this visit is on needs assessment and helping continue planning for sustained independent living (Schulz, 2010). The introduction of this scheme to Northern Ireland would, therefore, align with the theme of prevention underpinning Transforming Your Care (2011). This seminar will explore this initiative in more detail.

2.05pm - Dr Maria Truesdale and Dr Laurence Taggart (Ulster) – Diabetes education for adults with learning disabilities: addressing the inequalities
Health inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities (LD) is a critically important issue for primary and secondary healthcare services.  Although health inequalities are, to an extent avoidable, it is evident that existing patterns of healthcare provision are insufficient and likely to be in contravention of legal requirements under the Disability Discrimination Acts 1995 and 2005 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety’s policies (Equal Lives, DHSSPS, 2005) and guidance (LD Service Framework, DHSSPS, 2012) have emphasised the central role of mainstream health services in meeting the health needs of this population. Understanding the determinants of health inequalities helps identify potential solutions including: making ‘reasonable adjustments’ in all areas of health promotion and healthcare in light of the specific needs of this population and acting within the legal framework of the Mental Capacity Act (2005).  This seminar discusses how a national self-management Type 2 diabetes education programme (DESMOND) was adapted for adults with a LD (DESMOND-ID).  It illustrates how making reasonable adjustments can support these individuals to increase their knowledge and understanding of diabetes resulting in better self-management and improved glycaemic control with the support of their family and/or paid carer.

2.25pm – Dr Gillian Prue, Dr Olinda Santin, Dr Lesley Anderson, Dr Donna Graham and Prof Mark Lawler (QUB) – Making the case for universal HPV vaccination.
Prevention of human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancers is an increasingly prominent public health issue. The current UK strategy of vaccinating girls alone does not provide males with adequate protection against HPV infection and HPV-related diseases, particularly men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM). In response to this, in November 2015, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published a statement on HPV vaccination of MSM. This statement recommended that the vaccination programme be extended to MSM aged up to 45 years via a genitourinary (GUM) or Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) clinic, or opportunistic vaccination via a GP. In August 2016, the Health Minister announced the investment of £100,000 for the targeted vaccination of MSM in NI who attend GUM and HIV clinics. There are doubts that HPV vaccinations can be effectively targeted to MSM, and it has been argued that the only feasible way to protect MSM is by vaccinating all adolescent boys. The JCVI are currently considering the merit of extending the vaccine to all adolescent males. There are a number of countries that currently recommend and provide universal, gender neutral HPV vaccination. In order to inform the current HPV vaccine policy discussion, we will present our work on knowledge and attitudes to HPV and HPV vaccination in MSM and parents of adolescent boys. We will also present data on the cost-effectiveness of including males in HPV vaccination programmes.

2.45pm – Discussion  
3.15pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
3.20pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


 

17 MAY 2017

FOOD SYSTEM PLANNING

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks

1.45pm - Dr Wayne Foord (QUB) – Nexus project: a case study of scenario planning methodology applied to food system planning
This presentation provides an introduction to scenario planning, its increasing application to food system planning, and reports on the QUB Nexus project. There is growing evidence that future food security, globally and regionally, is at risk due to climate change, environmental degradation and resource scarcity, including fossil energy scarcity. Scenario planning methodologies have proven potential to bring together policy makers, researchers, and other stakeholders within the food and agriculture sectors, to face these challenges. The Nexus project, funded by the ESRC through the Nexus Network, addresses the following research questions: How might global climate change and future fossil energy depletion impact on food and agriculture systems in Northern Ireland? What are the different ways that food system sustainability is framed by different stakeholders? And what opportunities are there for developing new, shared understandings and options for action? The project brings together stakeholders from public, private, academic and NGO sectors, with differing perspectives and interests within the food system, and offers a process for developing a broader, more integrated perspective of the food system. The scenario planning methodology also presents opportunities to test and adapt existing policies, and to develop preferred transition pathways, in light of plausible future climate and energy scenarios.

2.05pm - Dr Brídín Carroll (University College Dublin) - TRANSMANGO EU research project: a case study of scenario methodologies applied to food system planning
This presentation reports on a current EU research project, TRANSMANGO, which focuses on the vulnerability and resilience of European food systems in the context of socioeconomic, behavioural, technological, institutional and agro-ecological change. TRANSMANGO addresses the effects of global drivers of change (climate, economic concentration and market structure, financial power, resource competition, marginalization, property rules, geo-political shifts, consumer preferences, consumption
patterns and nutritional transition) on European and global food demand, production, and food flows. The study seeks to review and develop vulnerability assessment methodologies and dynamic modelling tools in order to assess the resilience of Europe's agro-food sector and food security under the new unfolding conditions. The project has gathered analytical data used to design scenarios for possible and desired transition pathways in the food system. This study is important as there are signals that both
food and nutrition security in Europe will be threatened by new global challenges linked to resource scarcity, environmental degradation and climate change. The study provides a valuable case study of the application of scenario methodologies to food system planning in a range of policy-making contexts, and therefore offers useful guidance and potential models for policy-makers in Northern Ireland in the transition to sustainability.

2.25pm – Discussion 
2.55pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
3.00pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


 

24 MAY 2017

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks

1.45pm - Dr Heather Ritchie (Ulster) - Marine Spatial Planning in Northern Ireland: Towards Productive Seas and Resilient Communities?
Until recently there was no single system in place to guide development and management decisions at sea. Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) has emerged in response to the increasing use and pressures placed on the marine environment in terms of managing competing interests. The forthcoming publication of the draft Marine Plan will be a milestone for Northern Ireland and presents an opportunity to support sustainable growth within the maritime sector as a whole, and secure a more resilient future for our coastal communities. This new domain for planning requires knowledge, understanding and skills around the blue growth agenda to support the necessary interactions and enable stakeholders to participate effectively; across different jurisdictions and the land/sea divide. This is a timely opportunity to explore how best to raise civic and stakeholder awareness, understanding and engagement, both in the forthcoming consultation period of the plan, and when the new plans come into being. This presentation outlines the findings from an interdisciplinary workshop which sought to identify key lessons from elsewhere (including Scotland and North America) and develop a lay person’s guide to MSP. The presentation introduces the guide as a tool for enhancing stakeholder engagement and supporting the development of productive seas and resilient coastal communities. 

2.05pm - Dr Linda McElduff (Ulster) - Planning for Coastal Community Resilience
Coastal communities on the island of Ireland face a range of structural and locational challenges, including changing environmental parameters and the risk of specific coastal hazards. Such challenges have clear implications for the planning and regeneration of coastal resorts, as well as integrated coastal management. Some coastal communities are seeking to increase their adaptability through various regeneration schemes and investment strategies. In Northern Ireland the forthcoming Marine Plan presents an opportunity to increase the sustainability of the marine resource and the resilience of our coastal communities. Yet, there is an identified knowledge gap pertaining to the dynamism of the coast as part of a wider social-ecological system.This presentation highlights the need to enhance understandings of coastal resilience and advance a more strategic approach to coastal planning and regeneration. It draws upon the findings from qualitative research undertaken across the island of Irelandwhere a call for more coastal specific interventions and policy development was identified at the local level. The presentation puts forward recommendations for developing a more strategic vision in securing resilient outcomes for our coastal communities. 

2.25pm – Prof Keith Attenborough and Dr Shahram Taherzadeh (OU) - Environmental methods of surface transport noise reduction
Noise barriers are a common method of combating noise (mentioned under ‘environment’ in the KESS hot topics list) but they may be unsightly and tend to divide communities because any gaps affect their efficiency. The presentation will describe alternative methods based on the results of the Open University led parts of an EC FP7 project (HOSANNA www.greener-cities.eu). These methods are not considered at present by planners, highway engineers or noise consultants but are particularly relevant to cost-effective sustainable environmental policies in predominantly rural areas (common in Northern Ireland) and in cities, since they exploit and enhance the environment between the noise source and nearby people. They include (i) deployment of acoustically-soft ground such as non-compacted grassland; (ii) growing crops; (iii) planting tree belts and forests and (iv) deliberately introducing low (0.3 m high or less) wall configurations over hard ground. Tree belts can be effective noise barriers by combining sound absorption by decaying leaf litter, foliage attenuation and ‘sonic crystal’ effects through planting patterns. A particularly effective form of low wall design is a lattice. MLAs would benefit from knowing about these possibilities when making policies affecting land use and the planning of new developments near surface transport corridors. 

2.45pm – Discussion 
3.15pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
3.20pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


 

7 JUNE 2017

DEPRIVATION IN NORTHERN IRELAND

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks

1.45pm - Dr Lisa Bunting, Dr Gavin Davidson and Claire McCartan (QUB) – Child Welfare Inequalities
Child welfare systems in the UK are under profound stress because of growing demand and the current squeeze of austerity; they are expensive but provide a crucial investment in our children’s future; and protecting children’s safety and development is a core function of the state. Understanding child welfare services and the role that deprivation plays will contribute to primary
and secondary prevention planning. This research examines the role of deprivation in explaining differences in key children’s services outcomes between and within local authorities in four UK nations. A recent pilot study funded by the Nuffield Foundation found large differences in a child’s chance of being on a child protection plan/register or being ‘looked after’ in state care between and within local authorities strongly associated with social disadvantage creating child welfare inequalities with close parallels to those found in health and education. This new study seeks to test this hypothesis by accessing national data sets to extend the English study and replicate the investigation in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Accessing NI administrative data through the Honest Broker Service, we are examining how deprivation impacts on children’s services, and the quality and compatibility of data across the UK. 

2.05pm - Dr Nat O’Connor (Ulster) - Assessing the risks of economic inequality; the impact on societal wellbeing and economic development 
Economic inequality is rising in the developed world and influential research has found major risks to economic growth and population health; including OECD reports, IMF working papers, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century and the UK’s ‘Marmot Review’. Nobel economist Robert Shiller has called it “The most important problem that we are facing now today”. US President Obama has called income inequality the “defining challenge of our time”. While the USA leads on the extreme growth of income inequality, the UK and many other developed countries are moving in the same direction, and it is a global problem that transcends partisan politics. This seminar will use technical data and major research findings from a range of sources to look at how ‘economic inequality’ is defined and measured, and how inequality interacts with the wider economy, while demystifying some of the economic jargon involved. Technically, the rise of inequality is a ‘complex social problem’. The presentation uses An Inconvenient Truth as an example of the policy challenges involved in addressing a complex, multi-part, multi-cause issue such as economic inequality. The seminar will look at some policy solutions and challenges.

2.25pm - Dr Stefanie Doebler (University of Liverpool) and Dr Nina Glasgow (Cornell University) - Effects of socio-economic deprivation on reported health and premature mortality in Northern Ireland – a Life-Course-Perspective
Northern Ireland’s population is ageing, following a general European trend. Maintaining the health and wellbeing of Northern Ireland’s older generation is an important task for policy makers. This is even more the case in the face of austerity and impending cuts to public spending. This talk presents new and unique findings regarding the effects of poverty and deprivation on the health and premature mortality of Northern Ireland’s ageing population. Taking a longitudinal life-course perspective, we examine multidimensional indicators of deprivation as reported in the 1991 to 2011 Northern Ireland Censuses. The analysis is based on state-of-the-art statistical modelling of panel data from the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study (NILS), linked to 1991, 2001 and 2011 Census returns and to annual death records from 1991 to 2014 from the General Register Office. We present results regarding effects of educational, housing, material and area- level deprivation (of residential areas). This allows us to pin-point problem areas and population strata, policy should pay particular attention to.

2.45pm – Discussion 
3.15pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
3.20pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


 

21 JUNE 2017

UNDERSTANDING AND PROMOTING COMMUNITY WELL-BEING

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome 
1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks

1.45pm – Ms Louise O’Boyle (Ulster) - Promoting community well-being through partnerships and co-production
This presentation will discuss the findings from evidence-based research into the effectiveness of a partnership between Louise O’Boyle (Ulster University) and PIPS Charity North Belfast, over a series of collaborations between 2012-2016. The constituency of North Belfast is an area of multiple disadvantages and has the highest suicide rate in Northern Ireland (Constituency Profile Belfast North, December 2012). These collaborations included a number of arts-based projects that involved post-primary children, PIPS staff and PIPS Family Support Group. The outcomes of these projects were further utilised to promote emotional wellbeing within the local communities of North Belfast. This presentation will focus on the development of the partnership and discuss what were the key considerations, synergies and modes of working utilised to make it effective; how these findings can inform future partnerships within communities. As proposed in the Assembly’s consultation document, ‘Strategy for Culture and Arts 2016-2026’ the driving vision is “To promote, develop and support the crucial role of arts and culture in creating a cohesive community and delivering social change to our society on the basis of equality for everyone” (2015: 11). This presentation will conclude that fundamental to the development of any partnership is recognition that knowledge can be created outside of the academy and other formal bodies. Who the experts are and where they are located is changing and this approach to partnership can lead to coproduced forms of knowledge. Communities can inspire and inform public bodies and in turn be supported by them. 

2.05pm – Prof Siobhan O’Neill (Ulster) - Targeting zero suicide in Northern Ireland: understanding the risk factors in specific sub groups
Northern Ireland continues to have the highest suicide rate in the UK, and some of the highest rates in the western world. The psychological approach to suicide is that death is the result of a behaviour; of which mental illness is only one (unreliable) predictor. Since suicide is a behaviour, and therefore preventable, the only acceptable target is zero. Therefore, by understanding and addressing all the antecedents of the behaviour we can work towards eliminating it. Bringing these principles together, this presentation will link the evidence regarding the antecedents of suicidal behaviour in Northern Ireland with psychological theories of suicide and, provide “Zero Suicide” guidelines for policymakers and practitioners. It is widely recognised that those who die by suicide are not a homogenous group. Evidence from the Ulster University student well-being study, the Northern Ireland study of Health and Stress, and the Northern Ireland suicide database will be presented to illustrate the specific sub populations who are at higher risk, based on age, sex, demographic profile, trauma exposure, mental health and life events. Each of these sub populations have specific needs and suicide prevention strategies should take consideration of these. 

2.25pm – Discussion
2.45pm – Comfort Break

2.55pm – Dr Sharon Mallon (OU) - The role of paramilitary punishment attacks and intimidation in death by suicide in post agreement Northern Ireland.
The signing of the Good Friday agreement effectively brought an end to the widespread violence associated with the ‘Troubles’. However, communities within Northern Ireland continue to be blighted by an insidious form of violence in the form of punishment beatings and intimidation. Anecdotal evidence published in news media have linked cases of such intimidation and violence to individual cases of suicide. However, to date, there has been a lack of empirical research examining this relationship. The aim of this seminar is to address this gap in our knowledge by examining these forms of violence among a cohort of individuals who died by suicide in Northern Ireland.  Using data collected from Coroners and GP files and during interviews with family members, we use a modified version of the psychological autopsy method to explore how intimidation and/or beatings, at or around the time of the death, may have contributed to the suicides of individuals who died over a two-year period. We explore some of the specific features of these deaths and examine associated help seeking with primary care and other mental health professionals. We conclude by exploring ways in which this challenging issue might be tackled at a policy level.

3.15pm - Prof Cahal McLaughlin (QUB) – The role of oral history in societies emerging from conflict
Three official reports in Northern Ireland have each recommended storytelling as one of the methods to address the legacy of the past – Bloomfield (1998), Eames-Bradley (2007) and Hass (2014) reports. The proposal of an Oral History Archive in the Stormont House Agreement raises the possibility of similar benefits. The Executive is expected to renew negotiations over such legacy issues. In the meantime, community-based initiatives have filled the vacuum by organizing their own storytelling projects. Healing Through Remembering has produced an audit of such projects and the PEACE 3 funded ‘Accounts of the Conflict’ at Ulster University offers a selection of these on a digital platform. The Prisons Memory Archive, based at QUB, is another such initiative and I propose to present its research findings. Using a methodology based on co-ownership, inclusivity and life-storytelling, the PMA has recorded 175 interviews back inside the empty prisons of Armagh Gaol in 2006 and the Maze and Long Kesh Prison in 2007; participants include prison staff, prisoners, chaplains, teachers, visitors and solicitors. These filmed recordings are used in community and educational discussions throughout NI and internationally, with evidence to date showing that if methodologies include co-ownership and inclusivity there are opportunities to positively address our conflicted past in a contested present. 

3.35pm – Discussion
4.05pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks 
4.10pm – Networking and Refreshments

 


Details of earlier Seminars (including Briefing Papers, powerpoint presentations and videorecordings) can be found at the following;

Series 5: 07 October 2015 - 29 June 2016
Series 4: 05 November 2014 - 24 June 2015
Series 3: 03 October 2013 - 29 May 2014
Series 2: 04 October - 16 May 2013
Series 1: 22 March - 05 July

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