This year’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science saw a strong presence from the Bath’s Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences.

Having funded 303 events across the UK this year, the ESRC Festival of Social Science showcases the variety and innovation of the UK's social science community. As part of the festival, researchers from the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences organised three workshops to shine a light on a variety of pressing social issues and the work they’re conducting around these issues.

Respecting neurodiversity: communicating with autistic service users

Dr Jade Norris and Dr Katie Maras from the Centre for Applied Autism Research hosted the workshop Respecting neurodiversity: Communicating with autistic service users at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea.

Orthodontists, nurses, occupational therapists, HR professionals, disability and student support teams, and many other service providers engaged passionately with the workshop and shared creative ideas for how to improve communication with autistic service users. As an autistic person herself, Sarah O’Brien-Quilty shared her personal experiences of accessing healthcare services, and provided valuable practical tips for how access and communication could be improved.

Feedback showed that attendees found the workshop very useful to their practice, with many now implementing changes within their services in order to become 'Ambassadors for Autism'.

Child trafficking: Children’s voices informing practice

Dr Alinka Gearon from the Department of Social & Policy Sciences organised Child trafficking: Children’s voices informing practice, an event based on her social science research Child trafficking: Experiences of separated children on the move (Gearon, 2016).

This interactive event took place in Swindon and was held for front-line practitioners working with children and young people to share research findings and stimulate debate how to improve services. Social workers, police, youth workers, health practitioners, education professionals and lawyers attended the event and heard accounts from young people directly who were trafficked as children. They also had a chance to ask questions to develop awareness and understanding.

The event received high praise, with practitioners suggesting this research which informs practice should be mandatory for all children’s social care in the country.

Multilingual story-telling for children by children

Closer to campus, the Family Language Policy research team organised the Multilingual story-telling for children by children workshop at the Bath Central Library. The event was opened by the Mayor of Bath Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones, and supported by colleagues from University College London (UCL) and local schools in Bath and Bristol.

The event celebrated multilingual children's achievement and provided them an opportunity to creatively present their multilingual and multicultural lives in story-writing-and-telling. It helped parents who have interests in raising children with more than one language to find information about the best methods to manage children's bi/multilingual development at home, the consequences of bi/multilingualism to the brain and cognition, as well as maintaining the minority language as a migrant family. More than 60 parents and children with various ethnic and socio-cultural backgrounds attended the event.

The team behind this inspiring event was comprised of Professor Xiao Lan Curdt-Christiansen and Jing Huang from the Department of Education, Sahra Abdullahi (UCL), and Kinga Kozsminska (Birkbeck, University of London). Instrumental to the organisation of this event was also the contribution of our PhD student volunteers Luyao LI, Hala Khaled, and Hanan Alhai Yonis.

Reflecting on the Faculty’s involvement, Dr Ian Walker, Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty, commented: “I am really pleased that Bath researchers were so involved in this year's festival. Our Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences contains such an impressive range of people whose work touches on the pressing social issues of today. It is great that the wider community gets to see this.”