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Enterprise and Engagement

The Department of Social Work , Education and Community Wellbeing offers consultancy, continuing professional development and takes commissions from partners who want to research and evaluate aspects of their own activity.

The Department of Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing; is highly successful in its offer of; consultancy, continuing professional development (CPD) and takes commissions from partners who want to research and evaluate aspects of their own activity. Our expertise is underpinned by research and professional practice in the following areas:

  • Children, family and communities
  • Disability
  • Early Years
  • Education – School and Post Compulsory Sector
  • Guidance and Counselling
  • Public and Community Health
  • Participatory Social Research and Evaluation

Our breadth of knowledge exchange is illustrated by the range of partners that we work with in communities which includes the public sector organisations in health and wellbeing (e.g. regional local authorities, NHS England, Northumbria Healthcare Trust, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust) and third sector organisations (e.g. Children North East, Play England, Percy Hedley Foundation, Disability North). We work with our partners to enhance policies, services and processes to support innovation through engagement.

Commissioned Research: is a key area of our expertise.We can work in partnership with you to meet your needs for research and development. 
For example:   Cumbria County Council commissioned us to evaluate their implementation of the Troubled Families Initiative with 60 families. The evaluation work involved a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches which will provide robust evidence to inform how services are developed. In addition, the research will strengthen Cumbria’s position when applying for further funding.  

Consultancy: where our expertise is used to enable you to innovate in areas such as organisational development  and workforce development.
For example: Video Interaction Guidance is an intervention recommended by NICE to support social and emotional wellbeing of children and for children and adults with autism. Dr Deborah James is implementing this intervention in children’s services at Newcastle City Council training social workers to use the approach with families facing significant challenge.  

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Short Courses: where we meet the needs of individuals and employing organisations through accredited and non-accredited study.Examples include: Working with school alliances to provide leadership development, where individual teachers are able to obtain Masters awards and schools meet their workforce development needs. 

Credit Equivalence Process for In-Organisational In-house Learning: this process allows an organisations own training provision to be credit rated. This will enable students to have learning recognised as evidence of prior experiential learning for entry or exemption to identified awards at Northumbria University.

For example: The Northumbria Advanced Clinical Assessment for Nurses (NACAN) is a clinical training module intended to provide advanced physical assessment skills for experienced nurses caring for adults. Learners come from a range of acute and community settings. NACAN asks already experienced nurses to build on their existing professional and clinical knowledge and as such encourages curiosity and inquiry.  The course is valued highly by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust and is seen as an important part of staff development, not solely in the context of employability for nurse practitioner roles, for a broad range of nurses. 


Developing participatory approaches to investigating practice:  Participatory social research is now widely used as a way of categorising research that has moved beyond researching "on" to researching "with" people. This approach leads to co-production with all those who participate that goes beyond commenting on pre-determined designs or processes. The impacts of participatory research include changes in attitudes and outlooks as well as changes in practice and continue to surface long after the initial research has been completed. Dr Tina Cook is an executive member of the international Collaboration on Participatory Health Research She offers open courses on how to use participatory research and evaluation. 


Work-based Learning: the University offers a framework which provides programmes of Work Based Learning as a series of modules which can be undertaken singly or combined into a University Award. Students undertake the programme from a range of professional background including teaching, fire and rescue service and speech therapy. Work-based learning can be employer commissioned and delivered in partnership or individual students can undertake study as part of a multi professional group that reflects the expertise within the department.

Expertise and Engagement

We offer many areas of practice expertise, research and leadership to our partnerships and our connections with communities of practice are highly valued relationships that underpin quality in all areas of our work, a few examples are highlighted below;

  • Our Early Years Steering Group meets three times a year and is made up of employer representatives from seven Local Authorities working in partnership to support the recruitment and subsequent development of Early Childhood Practitioners in the private, voluntary, independent and maintained sectors.
  • The Department has European partners via the Erasmus+ Programme and inter-institutional agreements with Malmo University, Sweden; Joanneum University of Applied Sciences, Graz, Austria; Oporto Institute for Social Work, Portugal and Hochschule University, Regensburg, Germany. These partnerships offer opportunity for student placements and exchanges.
  • Our considerable expertise and research focused on adult safeguarding and mental capacity, means that staff are engaged with local implementation networks and adult safeguarding boards, and nationally as expert safeguarding practitioners with The College of Social Work.
  • Dr Kim Holt (Head of Department) has dual professional background as a social worker and barrister and she contributes to professional legal practice. Kim is chair of the Government forum on Child Protection, a member of the Family Justice Board, Serious Case Review Committee, and member of the Legal Advisory Board to the British Association of Adoption and Fostering.
  • Staff members use their practice-based expertise to train others in the use of guidance and counselling. Peter Bevan delivers training for practitioners from education, youth work and social work backgrounds, in the public and private sectors in the UK and abroad in solution focused approaches and motivational interviewing. This training is tailored to specific organisational needs and can be used to support change in the context of behaviour change, self-assessment and career decision-making.

Our partnerships are important because through them we gain multiple perspectives and expand understanding of ourselves and our communities. If you would like to find out how you can become connection to our community please contact us.

Contact Information:

Director of Enterprise & Engagement - Nancy Kelly or 0191 215 6302

Department Business Development Manager - James Wilkinson or 0191 215 4196




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