Coloured confetti against a blue background
  • Crosspoint, Roland Levinsky Building, University of Plymouth

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This year we showcased the positive ways that our social sciences researchers are changing the lives of vulnerable and harder-to-reach groups with work that empowers them as individuals, that reduces barriers to their participation in society, or that highlights the challenges they face. 

Through collaboration with a wide range of charities, policy makers, NGOs, businesses, and social enterprises, these innovative projects directly benefit communities in Plymouth and the South West, with many also influencing policy and practice nationally and internationally. 

The public was invited to join us to talk to our researchers about their projects and to discover how they could get involved. 

The evening was introduced by Professor Jerry Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, with an opening talk from Andy Phippen, Professor of Social Responsibility in IT, and lawyer Asha Beswetherick, a Senior Associate of Enable Law.

Andy and Asha talked about their work in developing knowledge among both litigators and care teams about the digital rights of people with learning difficulties and mental capacity issues and how this relates to Court of Protection rulings. The talk explored this from both a social and legal perspective highlighting how it is important to ensure safeguarding doesn’t become an excuse for the erosion of human rights and an excuse for excessive control and monitoring.

Afterwards there was an opportunity to chat to our researchers, network, and explore our exhibition featuring of a wide range of academic and student projects from across our Social Sciences, including:

  • Prisoner lifestories through Dartington-based ‘Landworks’
  • Experiences of employment for those with mental health issues
  • How criminal justice responds to violent women
  • Trans-communities lived experiences of harm
  • Improving the health and wellbeing of those with combat PTSD
  • Migrant agricultural workers in the South West
  • Empowering harder-to-reach groups through food
  • Providing young adults with a non-formal training route to employment
  • The impact of family support agencies on so-called 'troubled families'
  • Understanding how large organisations manage sexual harassment claims
  • Addressing health inequalities for people from traditionally marginalised groups, including the homeless, substance users, and those who have had contact with the criminal justice system
  • Gypsy, Traveller and Roma experiences of planning and policing, and their experience of hate crime
  • Disadvantage and deprivation in English seaside towns
  • Multidisciplinary health care teams in action
  • Nancy Astor’s relevance to Plymouth today
  • The award winning Plymouth Law Clinic
  • HIV digital activism.

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Professor Jerry Roberts, Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Plymouth

Biography: Professor Jerry Roberts

Jerry is Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise at the University of Plymouth. Prior to this appointment, in February 2017, he was at the University of Nottingham where he was Director of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) AgriFood Advanced Training Partnership and of the University of Nottingham’s BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership.

Jerry’s primary research interests are focused on understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for regulating cell separation processes in plants. He has published in excess of 100 papers in international peer reviewed journals and his work has led to the application and granting of a number of patents.


Biography: Professor Andy Phippen

Andy is a Professor of Social Responsibility in Information Technology at the University of Plymouth. He has specialised in the use of ICTs in social contexts for over 15 years, carrying out a large amount of grass roots research on issues such as attitudes toward privacy and data protection, internet safety and contemporary issues such as sexting, peer abuse and the impact of digital technology on wellbeing. He has presented written and oral evidence to parliamentary inquiries related to the use of ICTs in society, is widely published in the area and is a frequent media commentator on these issues.

Andy Phippen

Biography: Asha Beswetherick

Asha is a Senior Associate at Enable Law. She is an experienced Mental Capacity lawyer specialising in Court of Protection work and Elderly matters. She qualified as a Solicitor in 2004 after completing training in London. She initially specialised in property work and has worked with the elderly and vulnerable for over a decade. She finds Court of Protection work rewarding, and enjoys helping to “put right” situations and protect the vulnerable. Each case is very different and can range from assisting the elderly to managing large building projects for children who have been awarded compensation for birth injuries. She works with accountants, case managers, architects and families every day.

Asha Beswetherick

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