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Current Projects


Towards inclusive responses to sexual violence

These webpages present findings and resources from a series of participatory research projects undertaken since 2019 by Dr Alison Jobe from Durham University and Dr Helen Williams from the University of Sunderland, in collaboration with third sector organisations and learning disabled / autistic survivors of sexual violence. Please see project webpages here:

Towards Inclusive Responses to Sexual Violence - Towards inclusive criminal justice responses to sexual violence (


Hongkonger diaspora in the UK: Voices, identities and communities

The new British Nationals (Overseas) (BN(O)) visa route entitles 5.2 million Hong Kong BN(O) passport holders and their dependents to settle in the UK. Despite there is a tendency in the government policy to restrictively frame these migrants as self-sufficient, highly skilled and of high assets, Hongkonger migrants in this BN(O) cohort are immensely diverse in terms of their class, education and socioeconomic backgrounds. 

This programme of research focuses on listening to the diverse and precarious voices of Hongkonger diaspora in the UK, especially women, young people, working class families and LGBTQ+ communities. By considering identities, communities and sense of belonging as performed and situated, Hongkongers’ different and even competing ways of navigating their new lives in the UK will offer insights into how the political, cultural and social relations interact to shape people’s migration experiences. We also work with social work communities, both from Hong Kong and in the UK, to advocate for the recognition of pre-migration knowledge and experiences of social workers and use them as resources for promoting culturally grounded practice to support the emerging Hongkonger diaspora in the UK. 

This research programme is underpinned by three funded projects:

We are Hongkongers: Contested identities, communities and home-building, funded by the British Academy/Wolfson Fellowship 2022

This project aims to explore how Hongkongers settle in different cities and towns in the UK and they ways by which they rebuild their Hongkonger identities and community, most importantly their homes. Through questionnaire, interview and documentary filmmaking, the project also examines how their migration experiences may impact pre-existing and new relationships with local and transnational communities, friends and families and support agencies. Research findings will help the UK government, community groups and social care professionals develop suitable services for Hongkongers. A blog is set up for this project to present migration stories of Hongkongers in relation to food.  


Kong, S.T., Jackson, S and Ho, P.S.Y. (2023). Seeking Love and Justice amid Hong Kong’s Contentious Politics. Feminist Encounters. DOI: 10.20897/femenc/13547

The Darkside of Solidarity, funded by the British Academy Social movement studies have long viewed solidarity as positive resource for bringing activists and allies together. Focusing on Hong Kong’s 2019-2020 protests, this project examines solidarity as a more complex phenomenon by investigating how it can silence and alienate minority voices within a movement, impact negatively on personal relationships outside the movement and paradoxically undermine the local and global solidarity needed in the context of a pandemic. By eliciting personal narratives of the experience of solidarity in Hong Kong, we aim to contribute new knowledge of the consequences of solidarity for personal life and community response to COVID-19.Publication(s):

Kong, S.T., Jackson, S. and Ho, P.S.Y. (2024). Problematizing Hongkonger Political Subjectivity: The Struggle for, and over, Democracy. In Gurminder K Bhambra, Lucy Mayblin, Kathryn Medien, Mara Vivero Vigoya (2024), SAGE Handbook of Global Social Theory. Sage. 

Transnational Social Work, funded by Durham Research Impact Fund
The project aims to contribute to the UK social work workforce in the context of shortage and enhance the UK public’s understanding of the lived experiences of Hong Kong migrants coming through the new BN(O) visa route (expected to be 300,000 in the first five years). This project is tied to the ‘We are Hongkongers’ project which is funded by the British Academy/Wolfson Fellowship 2022. With the support of the British Association of Social Workers, the funding will contribute to the development a national CPD curriculum to support internationally qualified social workers to join the UK social work; and to enable cross-cultural exchange between UK and Hong Kong qualified social workers to develop culturally grounded practice to support the emerging Hongkonger diaspora communities especially children and young people. The training video produced from this project will support social work professional training and enhancing general understanding of the UK public on the diverse lived experiences and needs of Hongkonger diaspora communities in the UK.

Impact-focused publication(s):

Kong, S.T. and Chow, H. (2023). Concerns and Experiences of Hong Kong Social Workers in England and Wales: Registration and Job Seeking. Transnational Social Work Practice Briefing No.1. Department of Sociology, Durham University. (Click Here)


Participatory Research Innovation and Learning Lab

This project involved a series of workshops during March-June 2022 for Durham University researchers and members of community, voluntary and other organisations. The aim was to enhance learning about participatory research (PR), share experiences, pursue innovative ideas and practices and consider how university systems and procedures might need to change to facilitate PR.  A report has been produced outlining the process of the workshops and identifying areas of good practice and recommendations for improved institutional systems at Durham University to support participatory research. A toolkit is under development offering guidance about specific innovative methods and approaches developed by participants in the Lab. 


Summary report of the PRILL project:

Durham Community Research Team (2022) Realising the potential of participatory research at Durham University and beyond: Piloting a Participatory Research Innovation and Learning Lab (PRILL), CSJCA, Durham University, Durham, UK


Ethical challenges for social workers during Covid-19 and beyond

Sarah Banks (Durham University, Coordinator), along with fellow members of the Social Work Ethics Research Group, worked in partnership with the International Federation of Social Workers to conduct an international survey on ethical challenges for social workers during Covid-19. The survey was conducted in May 2020, and received 607 responses from 54 countries. A small grant was received for this work from Durham University (UK) ESRC Impact Acceleration Account. Presentations and workshops have been held worldwide (online) to discuss this research (from New Zealand to Iran). Members of the group are now looking at ethical challenges post-Covid-19, and the group is involved as a partner in planning a people’s summit, Co-building a new eco-social world: leaving no one behind, to be held online, 29 June-1 July 2022. For further details of the research contact:  Various publications have been produced from the research, including:

International outputs

UK outputs (based on analysis of the UK survey responses, in partnership with British Association of Social Workers)


Youth engagement and skills acquisition within Africa’s transport sector (gender)

For further information contact: Prof. Gina Porter

Women in Africa face substantial discrimination in the transport sector, both as transport users and as transport sector employees. This affects their wider access to work, education and training in every sector. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, additional pressures on women’s mobility have further exacerbated these constraints. Relevant skills acquisition, at an early age, is essential if women are to break through such barriers.

This research project, “Youth engagement and skills acquisition within Africa’s transport sector: promoting a gender agenda towards transition into meaningful work”, aims to explore and help address these challenges. It is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund [GCRF] and was awarded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council [ESRC]. The grant runs from 1st December 2018 to 30th November 2021.

The study focus is on young women and girls of low socio-economic status living in less accessible locations of three cities: Abuja (Nigeria); Cape Town (South Africa) and Tunis (Tunisia). In each city region, our field research is focused principally on one peri-urban neighbourhood and one city-connected settlement beyond the city boundary. Through the research (which encompasses diverse modes of transport, including walking as well as non-motorised and motorised vehicles) we aim to produce gender-sensitive transport/travel-related skills guidance and make this available to governments, the private sector, NGOs, and academia working at local, national and international levels.

Find out more about Youth Engagement and Skills Acquisition Within Africa’s Transport Sector (Gender)


Rethinking bidi (leaf cigarette) rolling as a livelihood in Vellore, South India

For further information contact: Prof. Andrew Russell

Principal Investigator: Prof Sushil John (Low Cost Effective Care Unit, Christian Medical College, Vellore)

Andrew Russell, CSJCA Co-Director and Professor in Durham University’s Anthropology Department is co-investigator on a Global Challenges Research Fund networking grant administered by the Academy of Medical Sciences.

As part of the work on the grant, 33 people, including 11 bidi (leaf cigarette) workers attended a workshop held in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, South India from 18-20 December 2019. The workshop was jointly facilitated by Mary Robson of Durham University’s Institute for Medical Humanities and CSJCA’s colleagues Stanley Joseph and Pradeep Narayanan of Praxis – Institute for Participatory Practices, who generously gave their time on a pro bono basis.

In the preceding six months, Stanley had overseen the participatory methods training of six community health volunteers who work for the D Arul Selvi Rehabilitation Trust in Tirupattur, about 70 miles from Vellore. Both Vellore and Tirupattur are important centres for bidi rolling in northern Tamil Nadu and the network aims to investigate current and possible alternative livelihoods for those employed in this exploitative and unhealthy occupation using participatory methods with bidi workers themselves.

As a result of this pilot research, we have testimony from over 50 bidi workers concerning their conditions, livelihoods and aspirations for the future. These were presented at the workshop where the bidi workers who attended gave further feedback and analysis, with Tamil-English-Tamil language translation provided by a local volunteer, Mrs Padmanabhan. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first workshop ever held where academics, practitioners and bidi workers came together as equal partners. “I have worked in tobacco control for 12 to 13 years without ever meeting a bidi roller” said one network collaborator. “Please help us in getting our children out of this bidi rolling profession” exhorted one of the bidi rolling participants.

Mr Paul Dass (ProVISION, Bengalaru) is a physiotherapist who has set up a social enterprise that provides training in papier maché and other crafts. Following a presentation at the workshop, Sushil John invited him to run alternative livelihoods training sessions for bidi and other disadvantaged workers at the Low Cost Effective Care Unit. 31 bidi rolling women attended a practical demonstration of different craft activities in February 2020. Further work has had to be put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the Academy of Medical Sciences has generously provided a no-cost extension to the project until March 2021.