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Sonia leading the way for service users on Social Work research


Tutors Anne McGlade, Dr Campbell Killick and Professor Brian Taylor with Sonia Patton

A Health and Social Care Board funded academic initiative to support service users and carers get involved in social work research has marked a significant milestone.

Three years of hard work, commitment and dedication culminated in Sonia Patton becoming one of the first graduates to achieve an MSC in Development and Co-Production in Social Care Research at the University of Ulster’s recent Winter Graduation Ceremony.

The Social Work Post graduate Research Methods Programme is designed to develop the skills relevant to social work research related activity and culture in Northern Ireland.

Anne McGlade, Social Care Research Lead at the HSCB and tutor on the Research Methods programme, said; “The HSCB is delighted to have supported Sonia and we want to congratulate her on her achievement.

“In 2016, the Social Care and Children’s Directorate at the HSCB agreed to fund service users and carers to undertake post qualifying training based on the principle of equality and inclusion and parity in participation. That principle was advocated by our good friend and colleague, Jacqueline Magee, who is sadly no longer with us.”

The programme equips candidates to carry out service user roles in developing social care research, user involvement in priority setting and commissioning structures, as membership of research committees and grant awarding panels and in the dissemination and implementation of research findings.

Delighted with her achievement Sonia said; “I have been on an incredible learning journey transitioning from service user to student to researcher.

“Having gained a core set of knowledge and skills to develop and participate in social care research I look forward to future co-production opportunities making a valuable contribution to the necessary research and evidence base within social work and social care in Northern Ireland.”

Sonia is leading the way for others to follow. Currently, there are seven other service users and carers at various stages on their academic journey.

For more information about the course contact the University post-qualifying social work office: pqresearchmethods@ulster.ac.uk or contact anne.mcglade@hscni.net to discuss service user and carer involvement.