Happy New Year – Welcome to 2015 and introduction to Ceri Durham our new administrator

It is perhaps too late to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR given that we are now almost at the end of January, but as the beginning of 2015 is marking a new involvement for me as the administrator for the Revaluing Care Network, I feel it is appropriate to wish everyone a healthy and peaceful 2015 full of lively debate and interesting conversations. I look forward to being in touch with many of you as the year progresses. Particular thanks go to Sue Westwood from whom I am taking over the role, and who I already know will be of assistance in helping me build on her excellent work to date.

I was lucky enough to meet some of you at the ‘Cycles of Care‘ seminar at the end of November, but for those of you who I didn’t, I will tell you a little about me. I am Ceri Durham, a mother of three young children, living in Bow in London’s East End. I am currently undertaking my LLM (Masters in Law) in Medical Law at Queen Mary, University of London. Until October, I was working as a solicitor predominantly doing commercial and private client work for so-called “ultra-high-net worth individuals”. However, in October I took the plunge and left my (paid) work to follow the passion of my voluntary work role as a campaigner for improvements in maternity services (and to do my LLM, of course).

As a maternity rights campaigner, my role splits into two – the complaining activist and the compassionate supporter. I spend much of my time telling anyone who will listen about the perilous issue of women’s choice and birth autonomy in the UK today. I also have the joy of running various birth-groups supporting women as they make their choices and plans for their birth, in particular assisting women who are contemplating giving birth at home and who are finding it difficult to access the information and advice they need to make the decision that is right for them. In my view, even where autonomy and human rights are protected in theory, the women I support tell a different story. Thankfully, even where there have been difficulties, surgery or undesired outcomes, the wonderful birth stories I hear full of joy and laughter from women who have had empowering and life-affirming births, make me know that this is a campaign worth fighting for.

Whilst I believe – and am very grateful – that maternity services in this country are ‘safe’ and will usually result in a mother and baby who are both alive at the end of birth, I feel the emphasis that this is ‘all that matters’ manifests by denying women real choice about their body and the care of their children. Too often there seems to be a tension between consultant (clinical) care and genuine woman-centred midwifery care, and whilst some advances have been made in this area, the fact that an event as natural and as every-day as birth should result in thousands of women each year suffering from avoidable post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and social exclusion is something which I feel the need to keep speaking about. That this is all taking place in the midst of NHS cuts and increasing privatisation of the NHS adds further issues to the mix, especially because we know that the models of maternity care which most benefit women, especially those who may be described as ‘vulnerable’, bear little relation to what is offered in practice. Needless to say, if you know anyone who is pregnant or if you would like further information on the campaigns I am involved in, please get in touch. I would love to hear from you.

Ceri.

ReValuing Care in 2013

A wordle of the ReValuing Care Blog 2013

ReValuing Care in 2013

As we approach the end of 2013, the time is ripe for a brief look back over the activities of the ReValuing Care research network in the last 12 months, and a peek forwards into ReValuing Care activities for 2014.

I’ll begin with a heart-felt “thank you”. To all of you – who have written for the blog, read contributions to this blog, shared those contributions on twitter, facebook and other social media. Since the launch of our regular blog series in June of this year, there have been nearly 50 blog contributions from members of the network. The website visitor numbers have increased from just 120 in January, to over 2,000 unique visitors in November. The ‘wordle’ image on this page provides an overview of the topics that have been covered. Of course, we’ve been talking about ‘care’; but we’ve also seen posts on topics as diverse as dementia, gender identity, soup kitchens, parenting, childlessness, sexuality and ageing (to name but a few). Care has been explored in its personal, practical, and conceptual senses. Blog contributors have explored the challenges and possibilities of care, and the multifaceted ways that research into and about care can lead to the (re)valuing of all forms of care. The international nature of our network has been demonstrated by the diverse locations of care research that have been shared: we’ve had contributions from the UK, the Republic of Ireland, India, Kenya, the US, Italy, and Australia. Creating a network is a very difficult thing to do. It takes time, energy, thought. It takes care. We all have to care about the potential and possibilities that arise from being in touch with others who care about care.

The way this blog has developed over the last six months, demonstrates the vitality and diversity of research about care. The challenge we face for the future is how to keep our conversations going; how to make the most of the network that we have created. Our AHRC grant, which funds the current phase of the ReValuing Care research network ends in the next few months. It would be all too easy for our network to spit, and fade and fizzle out when the money runs out. For the network to continue to develop, and for the conversations to continue beyond that time, we need to think creatively about how to take things forward. I have some ideas, and I’m sure you all do too.

To keep this network going, to build on the work that we’ve done, we need to nurture it, feed it and let it grow. We need to take care of it.

How? We could hold another ReValuing Care workshop (does anyone want to host?). We could reach out more to sectors beyond academia through other types of events (do you have ideas?). We could consolidate our academic contributions so far through an edited collection. We could apply for further funding to take forward additional questions and ideas. We could encourage our colleagues and contacts to get involved (from PhD students to professors, policy makers to activists, it doesn’t matter who you are, so long as you are interested in care). Perhaps the easiest thing of all to do is to keep up this blog. When we see a news story about care that makes us feel (in many ways it doesn’t matter which emotion sparks us off: angry, confused, impressed, concerned, happy…) we should write about it.  There are so many things we can do. I hope that we do at least some of them.

I’ll end with the caring equivalent of a call to arms (maybe a call to alms?): 2013 has seen the ReValuing Care research network develop into a community of scholars from across the globe. I very much hope that 2014 has even more in store for us. For this to happen, we need you to join in. I hope you will.

Caring about mental health inequalities, by Professor Elizabeth Peel

Previous research indicates that, compared to heterosexual people, LGBT young people are more likely to attempt suicide, lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to have drinking problems, and gay and bisexual men are more likely to have body image disorders. Therefore the Risk and Resilience Explored (RaRE) study, funded by the Big Lottery (2010-2015), explores these mental health inequalities in LGBT people in England. The project is led by PACE Health, a London-based charity, in partnership with Prof Elizabeth Peel (University of Worcester), Prof Ian Rivers (Brunel University) and Allan Tyler (London South Bank University) and aims to address the following questions:

  • Which LGBT people have these problems?
  • What are the risk/predictive factors?
  • What are the resilience/protective factors?
  • How do these vary between the study groups and between the study groups and their heterosexual counterparts?

The team has just launched a large-scale Health and Wellbeing survey that is open to anyone over 18 living in England. People of all sexualities whether or not they have experienced mental health problems can participate in the research via https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/a_RaREStudy This offers an opportunity for those who care about understanding health inequalities to share their experiences and perspectives. For more information about the RaRE study contact the project coordinator Nuno Nodin: nuno.nodin@pacehealth.org.uk .

 

Elizabeth Peel

Professor of Psychology & Social Change

Institute of Health and Society

The University of Worcester

Henwick Grove, Worcester, WR2 1AG

Email: e.peel@worc.ac.uk

 

Follow the ReValuing Care Network on Twitter: @ReValuingCare

The ReValuing Care Network aims to bring together academics, activists and advocates with an interest in ‘care’ in its many forms and locations.

We are committed to creating opportunities for open dialogue between academics and activists, advocates and others working in the third sector to improve the way that care is understood and valued in our society.

Alissa V. Tolstokorova

Tolstokorova, A. (2012). All Girls’ Best Friends?: Care Migration and Care Diamond in Ukraine in the Context of Population Aging. Research Report for ERSTE Foundation Fellowship “Generations in Dialogue”

http://www.erstestiftung.org/social-research/all-girls-best-friends-care-migration-and-the-care-diamond-in-ukraine-in-the-context-of-population-aging/

Welcome to the ReValuing Care Network Blog

The ReValuing Care Network is a research network funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The key aim of the network is to create open spaces (both physical and virtual) to facilitate discussion and dialogue about how we think about care. The ReValuing Care Network aims to bring together academics, activists and advocates with an interest in ‘care’ in its many forms and locations. We are committed to creating opportunities for open dialogue between academics and activists, advocates and others working in the third sector to improve the way that care is understood and valued in our society.

This website is a key aspect of the way that the network can develop, and if you are here, and interested, then we invite you to join the network so that you can take part in all of the discussions. Information about network members is displayed on your member profile on the site. To join, all you need to do is fill in the membership form, and you will have full access to all areas of the site.

On the website, we have a discussion forum, where members can discuss their work, their ideas, continue conversations started at physical events and so on. The forum is private, so you have to be a member and logged in to see it.

We also have this Blog. The ReValuing Care Blog is an open publishing space where any network member (whether you are an academic, activist, advocate, health or social care professional or whatever!) can post relevant news, views, links, events, or anything else that you can fit into a Blog post. All members will be given Blog author rights, so you will be able to post your contributions yourself. The ReValuing Care Project Team will act as editors of the blog, so if you don’t see your post go up straight away, it will be because one of use has to approve it. The reason for having this human intervention is primarily to prevent spam on the blog. Unlike the forum, the Blog is a public webpage, and so anyone surfing the web can see your posts, though only network members can also comment on blog posts.

What are you waiting for? Join us today, and get sharing!