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New paper from Psychology’s Kay Ritchie and Robin Kramer on face identification from CCTV images

A fascinating new paper published by Lincoln Psychology’s Dr Kay Ritchie and Dr Robin Kramer explores the benefits of enhancing CCTV images to improve face recognition.

You can read the full article here

If you have something you would like us to post here, please email: collegesocialscience@lincoln.ac.uk

Lincoln Student Wins Young Adult Carer Award

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We are so proud of Lincoln Law graduand, Chloe Rollings who has achieved so much during her time at the University of Lincoln. This award is very much deserved in recognition of Chloe’s ongoing commitment to supporting other student carers while at university.

‘On the 13th June 2018, Carers Trust CPN held their 3rd Annual Pride in Our Carers Awards. This event is designed to bring together unpaid family carers, organisations, charities and businesses to recognise and celebrate the incredible work of Carers. 

The Young Adult Carer Award is presented to a Young Adult Carer who goes out of their way to help and support others and who makes a difference in someone’s life. This year, I was honoured to receive this award in recognition of the new support framework, created in partnership with Carers First and the Student Wellbeing Team, to support Student Carers whilst at the University of Lincoln. This has inspired a novel approach to supporting students with additional responsibilities and challenges which could grant more student carers the opportunity to aspire to higher education. Through frequent consultation, increased awareness, deliverance of public talks and production of information and tools, a holistic approach was adopted to capture and support the needs of carers. This includes an enrolment question to identify Carers as well as an online platform of information to cement the network of support across various departments by acting as a signpost. This also enhanced the partnership between the Students Wellbeing team and the external Carers organisation leading to the introduction of Carer Surgeries and a smoother referral system. Since raising awareness of this issue, a Wellbeing Advisor and Careers Advisor for those with complex needs and caring responsibilities were also employed to support this project. This has since developed in the University’s and Students’ Unions commitment to Carers manifesting in the creation of a Students’ Union Policy. 

I became a Carer on 11th October 2015, just 3 weeks into my university journey. For the following 2 years, I was a struggling student and an exhausted carer. I truly thought this was a battle I faced alone and very few people knew how tough my life had the potential to be at times. One major difficulty was the guilt that came with living away from home and continuing my University journey whilst my family’s life came to a standstill. Upon realising I was a Carer 2 years later, I discovered that there is nothing unique about this situation or this feeling; I am not an anomaly and other carers face the same struggles. I knew then that sharing my experiences could make a difference and empower others. This inspired me to create the role of Student Carer Champion in September 2017. For the last academic year, I have been striving for change and the success of this project has transformed my story from one of sadness to one of strength. 

My caring responsibilities are never something I considered to be award-worthy, which is why this award came as a surprise. Caring is a big part of my life, but I hope that this award shows that Carers are able to embrace both aspects of their life and having a separate identity from caring is important for their personal wellbeing. This project enabled me to explore my new identity as a Carer and a Law Student, and I could not be prouder of what has been accomplished.’

If you have something you would like us to post here, please email: collegesocialscience@lincoln.ac.uk

Research by Professor Steve McKay Featured in Article on Family Breakdown and Child Mental Health

Lincoln School of Social and Political Sciences Professor Steve McKay has had his research featured in a new article, ‘Harry Benson’s marriage lines: Family breakdown and the toll on children’s mental health’.

‘In December last year the government produced its Green Paper on children’s mental health. The opening paragraph begins with an optimistic note that the state can make a difference. ‘Children with a persistent mental health problem face unequal chances in life. This is one of the burning injustices of our time.’ Alas, it’s all downhill thereafter: the scale of the problem, the consequences of the problem, and the difficulty of treating the problem make depressing reading. Treating the problem is one thing. But as the select committee on education, health and social care noted in its scathing review last month, although the role of families was acknowledged, there was no attempt to translate that into prevention, i.e. trying to control or reduce the demand for services.

To get an idea of the scale of children’s mental health problems, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) finds that one in eight 10-15-year-olds reports symptoms of mental ill-health. This has risen over time, as shown by the seven-yearly NHS Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey. This shows a rise in anxiety among 16-24-year-olds from 1993 onwards but especially between 2007 and 2014 for women.

As for causes, the select committee highlighted exam pressure, social media, school exclusion, parenting and what are called Adverse Childhood Experiences. The most recent rise coincides with the introduction of smartphones which really took off around 2008 and is certainly evidence – but by no means proof – that hours spent gazing at the fun everyone else appears to be having is not good for your mindset. In the end, all these experts are arguing over ‘interventions’: things the state thinks it can do better, usually involving more money, services, and – as Laura Perrins pointed out – incursions into areas of life that could and should be done by families. But there’s an optimistic way of looking at this. Families can do things better and children’s mental health outcomes can be a lot better as a result. How?

My colleague Professor Steve McKay at the University of Lincoln and I have been looking at a big national survey called the Millennium Cohort Study, which followed a large initial sample of 18,000 mothers who had children in the years 2000 and 2001. The parents were interviewed when the children were newborns and when they were aged three, five, seven, 11 and 14. They are now mostly 17-year-olds. From this sea of data, we can look at the prevalence of teenage mental health problems and also identify some of the factors present in families over the years that either increase or decrease the risk that children will face problems as teens. The first paper we did on this last year found that the problem is much more widespread than the ONS reports. Whereas ONS and others look at OVERALL level of problems (from the widely used Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire), we looked at whether children faced ANY kind of problem. A child who plays up at school or who worries unduly might not have an OVERALL problem but each of these children certainly displays ANY kind of problem. All in all, we found that 27 per cent of boys and girls have high levels of ANY problem – as reported by their parents – with boys tending to be more externalised and girls more internalised. This gender difference isn’t particularly new. Boys act out. Girls worry.

What was new was the sheer scale of the problem and our finding that family breakdown was the biggest risk factor for girls and equal first (alongside parent relationship happiness soon after the baby was born) for boys. So family breakdown is as important, or more so, than either the parents’ relationship or various background factors such as mother’s age, education and ethnicity. Being married also makes a difference above and beyond all these other factors.

We are currently extending this research by looking only at the parents who have stayed together, adding in a lot more relationship factors, such as the use of physical force over time, the quality of the parents’ relationship over time, and the closeness between child and each parent. I hope to report these new findings before the end of the summer and expect they will be newsworthy. Some of what we’ve already found could be really helpful in screening parents with newborns for risk through NHS post-natal clinics or Surestart centres. This would be a genuine early intervention, meaning specific families could be offered a parenting programme and follow-up before anything has gone wrong. If the state is going to stick its oar in, it’s far more cost-effective to do it this way than wait for problems to emerge and then play catch-up. But in the end all of this is a bit like repairing sand castles on a beach. Without dealing with the underlying issue of family stability, it’s going to be a losing battle that will involve ever more taxpayer money and state resources. In fact, children’s mental health problems have been on the increase since the 1970s, according to a Nuffield study. Yet the authors, as with so many enthusiasts for state intervention, go on to perform intellectual and verbal gymnastics to blame any aspect of social change except family structure. I don’t doubt that mental health is a complex area. Anyone who is a parent with more than one child will be bemused by the variations in temperament and character between children brought up in the same household. So there is a lot more in play than simply how we bring up our kids. But it defies the evidence we see with our own eyes as well as the empirical data to pretend that family structure doesn’t matter. What is really needed is a concerted government policy to encourage parents to begin family life on a firm foundation. The inescapable conclusion is that this means formal commitment and marriage before having children.’

You can view the original article at https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/harry-bensons-marriage-lines-family-breakdown-and-the-toll-on-childrens-mental-health/

Lincoln Psychology Introduce New Computer Game For Children With Vision Loss

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Researchers from the University of Lincoln have teamed up with the WESC Foundation to create a new browser-based game called Eyelander, which aims to help children and young people with vision-loss to lead more independent lives.

The game was specifically designed for people with visual field loss caused by Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI) – which is usually the result of a brain injury – and it prompts the player to use their vision more efficiently. The game requires players to move their eyes quickly around the screen to find matching shapes and colours at different positions and it is punctuated with encouraging words to motivate the player.

When played regularly the game can improve people’s performance of everyday tasks such as navigating through a crowded space or reaching for items in a supermarket.

If you are interested in trying Eyelander for free, go to their website to register and play https://www.eyelander.co.uk

If you have something you would like us to post here, please email: collegesocialscience@lincoln.ac.uk

Lincolnshire Carers’ Conference

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In support of ‘Carers Week’ the University will be hosting a one day conference to examine some of the key issues for professional and informal carers in Lincolnshire.

The event is being held in partnership with Carers First and will take place from 9.30am until 4pm on Tuesday 12th June.

Key speakers will include:

  • John Kennedy, who is one of leading commentators on care and the care sector in the UK. A provocative and thought provoking speaker. John was a leading researcher at Joseph Rowntree Foundation managing a portfolio of action research projects including ‘Neighbourhood Approaches to Loneliness’, ‘Care Homes – Risk and Regulation’ and, ‘John Kennedy’s Care Home Inquiry’ published in Oct 2014. John was recently appointed by the Minister for Health in Northern Ireland to investigate potential solutions to meet the challenges facing the care system. The report “Power to People’ was published in December 2017.
  • Mo Ray, Professor of Health & Social Care Integration at the University of Lincoln. She is a leading researcher on older people, social gerontology and health and social care. Mo was a qualified social worker for many years specialising in practice with older people. She brings this combined experience as both a practitioner and an academic into all of her work. She is currently part of a Wellcome Trust Funded research project around ethical issues and self-funded social care.
  • Ian Dinghy, who is a singer, carer, award winning care trainer and public speaker. He is author of the books Dear Dementia and That Missing Piece – stories of survival and hope after bereavement. Ian is a much in demand public speaker on the subject of care, caring and life in general and we are very pleased to welcome him to the University of Lincoln.

Please register at attendance at www.eventbrite.com

For further details please contact Steve Corbett at scorbett@lincoln.ac.uk

Student Blog | Experiencing Mental Health Difficulties As A Student Nurse

To mark International Nurses Day we would like to share this really thoughtful and inspiring piece by University of Lincoln Nursing student, Lyndsey Howard.

“Studying at university can be difficult and having a mental health condition does not make it any easier, especially within nursing. Somehow, as a student mental health nursing, I thought that it would all be okay; I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about my mental health anymore… Oh, how wrong I was. I’m where I want to be, I’m studying the degree I want to do, I’m on the road to success… So why do I feel so low?

Experiencing mental health problems as a student nurse is somewhat, terrifying, yet humbling. Gaining the knowledge and experience to treat people, whilst being involved in treatment yourself feels like you’re a failure and a burden, combined with an experiment. Yet, it gives you insight and first-hand experience of good practice, based upon empathy and compassion – everything you are taught as a nursing student, and more. Lived experience is something that cannot be taught. It’s the whirlwind of emotions that takes over your very existence. It’s the look that people give you when they see your scars or hear your story; it’s the very reason why breaking the stigma of mental health is so crucial and the pure motivation for my passion. It’s one of the many reasons I became a student mental health nurse.

Managing your own mental health is something everyone must do, whether you have a mental health condition, or not. It’s those first day nerves that causes butterflies in your stomach, to the sad feeling we feel when we fail or don’t achieve as we thought we should. It’s looking after our own wellbeing and having the confidence and determination to live the life that we want. It’s just one of those things, like cholesterol or blood pressure. We all must look after our own physical and mental health, to be able to survive a nursing degree. Because it’s hard, you know? There will be times when you want to drop out, when it feels like enough is enough, but there will also be times when you’ve made such a difference to someone’s life, that you remember exactly why you wanted to be a nurse in the first place.

Being a student nurse has been one of the hardest journeys I’ve ever experienced, and I’m only in the first year! It’s becoming a lifestyle, a way of living if you may. It’s everything you want to be and it’s everything you want to learn, and much, much more. It’s noticing the small things within people and caring enough to make a difference. It means realising what is truly important in life and carrying that as your philosophy – your moto for life. It’s the way you smile at someone, the way you make them feel, the way you can empathise with their struggles and the way you can adapt yourself to help them live a better life.

The most important thing that I’ve learnt so far is that failure is okay; if you don’t fail, you don’t learn. Expectations are there to guide us, not define us. If we don’t succeed, try again. Learning is a journey of failures. You failed? So, what? Dust yourself off and try again. Who says you can’t achieve next time? Only that little voice inside your head criticising your every move, your every thought. What lies ahead of that void is entirely up to you. Our hopes and dreams carve the way for our ambitions to be fulfilled within this amazing career, and life, which lies ahead of us. It all starts now.”

Environmental Policy and Renewable Energy Research Seminar

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Dr Alexander Haupt is visiting from Plymouth Business School to lead a seminar on environmental policy and renewable energy. It is taking place on the 9th May 2018 from 16:00 to 17:00 in the Harvard Lecture Theatre (this is located on the ground floor of the David Chiddick Building in the Executive Development Centre)

The renewable energy sector is key to meeting climate policy targets and threatens the market power of conventional fossil-fuel electricity generators. The intermittence of renewable energy sources complicates environmental policy. This paper justifies to some extent the use of feed-in tariffs, capacity taxes and price caps in addition to emission taxes. Feed-in tariffs or capacity taxes might be necessary to counteract strategic overinvestment in conventional fossil-fuel capacities, but this strategic overinvestment can turn into underinvestment if the costs of renewable energy have sufficiently plummeted and the share of customers on time-invariant pricing schemes is sufficiently large. Emission taxes and feed-in tariffs might increase or decrease, as the costs of renewable energy decline, and the paper identifies the circumstances under which these different outcomes result. The analysis is based on a model in which a conventional fossil-fuel electricity producer competes with a potentially large number of renewable energy generators. The fossil-fuel electricity producer might apply different technologies.

For further details please contact Alan Gazzard agazzard@lincoln.ac.uk

Lincoln’s Blue Dog Project Wins Award at PEARL Conference

The Public Engagement for All with Research at Lincoln (PEARL) Project is funded by RCUK and it recognises research that actively engages with the public. This year’s PEARL Conference featured speakers and presenters from across the University’s academic Colleges, detailing how people from the local community and professional practice can get involved in developing academic research ideas, participating in studies as subjects or researchers, and sharing or acting upon research findings.

Child psychologists whose work aims to help reduce the risks of dog bites in families with young children were among the award winners including the international group of researchers behind the Blue Dog Project who received the Team Award category. The team, which is led by Professor Kerstin Meints from Lincoln’s School of Psychology, has developed an interactive educational package for teachers, parents and young children that uses a cartoon dog to teach children about safe behaviours around pet dogs.

Another win for the School of Psychology went to Dr Niko Kargas who received a Staff Award for his work to support people with autism and other ‘hidden disabilities’ in the employment market.

Congratulations to everyone involved!

If you have something you would like us to post here, please email: collegesocialscience@lincoln.ac.uk

Sunday Politics Special Featuring Lincoln’s Sue Bond-Taylor Nominated For BBC Ruby Award

A Sunday Politics special on Child Friendly Cities featuring research from School of Social and Political Sciences lecturers Sue Bond-Taylor and Dr Anna Tarrant has been shortlisted for a BBC Ruby award for best Sunday Politics programme!

The Children of Lincoln project is an initiative to progress UNICEF’s international Child Friendly Cities agenda within Lincoln. According to UNICEF, a Child Friendly City is one in which children’s rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child are respected and supported, where young people’s needs are considered and catered for, and where children’s voices are heard and contribute to local policy making and services. Children of Lincoln is a collaborative partnership between Lincolnshire County Council, City of Lincoln Council, University of Lincoln and many other local organisations that work with and support young people, working together to make Lincoln a Child Friendly City.
The project was officially launched in November 2017, with an event held at the University’s Isaac Newton Building for children, young people and their families. Over 200 visitors attended the launch, including 100 children, who all enjoyed a range of activities on the day including arts and crafts, virtual reality games and football with Imps in the Community. Local BBC reporters came to take a look and did some filming, including an interview with Sue. They were sufficiently interested in what the team were trying to achieve to build upon this piece for a special themed Sunday Politics show looking at Children’s Rights and Child Friendly Cities. Key to the episode was the participation of children, with the show hosted from Our Lady of Lincoln Catholic Primary Academy rather than from the studio, and with children given the chance to present and to interview local councillors about how child friendly Lincoln might be. Sue was interviewed again by presenter Tim Iredale, as were two University of Lincoln student vloggers who also contributed a short film about the challenges facing young people today.
Since the filming, the team has started work to establish a Children and Young Person’s Steering Group to direct the future activity and priorities of the Children of Lincoln project, and are working in partnership with Visit Lincoln to develop their website as a hub for publicising community events for children and families within the city.

If you have something you would like us to post here, please email: collegesocialscience@lincoln.ac.uk

Sixth Form Students Visit Lincoln’s Biomechanics Lab

A group of sixth form students from Lincoln Castle Academy have had the opportunity to get hands-on experience with some of the cutting-edge technology used for motion analysis at the University’s Human Performance Centre.

The event, organised by Dr Sandy Willmott and Joe Moore of the School of Sport and Exercise Science, took place on the 24th April as part of National Biomechanics Day, an annual global celebration of biomechanics which aims to raise awareness of the field and the many ways in which it can enhance our lives.

The group attended two interactive workshops, which were supported by MSc Sport Science students Nicola Camp and Kristín Geirsdottir. The first session looked at how muscle activity can be monitored during sporting movements through sensors on the skin surface, and the second showcased the use of motion capture to provide real-time biofeedback for improving rowing technique.

Dr Sandy Willmott, Senior Lecturer at the School of Sport and Exercise Science, said: “What we’ve been doing today is showing the students some of the technology we have and giving them a chance to get hands on and have a go, as well as exploring the biomechanical principles behind the technology and discussing potential applications.”

“The students have been great and have really embraced the opportunity to both help set the equipment up and be analysed.”