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Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Wolfson Fellow

Professor Sarah Banks, MA, MSW, PhD

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41497
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41497
Room number: 29 Old Elvet: Room 206

Contact Professor Sarah Banks (email at


Sarah Banks has a background in community development and worked in the voluntary sector and local authority social services before joining Durham University. Her degrees are in philosophy, social history and social work. Her research interests include professional ethics, community development, community-based participatory research and work with young people.

She initiated the European Social Ethics Project - a group of academics from various countries who have undertaken research and curriculum development work on the theme of teaching practical ethics for the social professions. She has been involved in developing and revising codes of ethics for several national and international bodies, including The National Youth Agency, International Federation of Social Workers and the British Association of Social Workers.

Sarah supervises PhD students who are exploring aspects of community development work, faith-based practice with young people and communities, teaching and learning about values in youth and community work, asylum seekers and refugees, family resilience and sustainable livelihoods. She welcomes applications from intending PhD students in the fields of professional ethics, practitioner values and motivations, community development and youth work. She is also keen to encourage postgraduate research projects that take a participatory action research approach.

Sarah is co-director of the Centre for Social Justice and Community Action at Durham University. She is founding co-editor of the journal, Ethics and Social Welfare.

Her most recently published books are the fourth edition of Ethics and Values in Social Work: the edited collection Ethical Issues in Youth Work (2nd edition); Ethics in Professional Life: Virtues for Health and Social Care (co-authored with Ann Gallagher) and the edited collection: Practising Social Work Ethics around the World: Cases and Commentaries (co-edited with Kirsten Nøhr). Recent research projects include work on co-inquiry action research, ethical challenges in community-based participatory research, household debt, community organising and faith and bioethics.

Read about Sarah's latest action research with Thrive Teesside on high cost credit in poor households.

Research Groups

School of Applied Social Sciences

  • Policy, Professions and Communities

Research Projects

School of Applied Social Sciences

  • Community-based participatory research: ethics and outcomes
  • Faithful judgements: the role of religion in lay bioethical evaluations of new reproductive and genetic technologies, £17K
  • Imagine, The social, historical, cultural and democratic context of civic engagement: imagining different communities and making them happen, £2.2M (Durham £290K)
  • Making ends meet: action on sustainable livelihoods
  • Ordinary ethics: the moral evaluation of the new genetics by non-professionals
  • Promoting the Social Inclusion of Young People: The Role of Faith Communities
  • Valuing Diversity, Exploring Faith and Culture: A project that worked with young people in the North East of England

Research Interests

  • Professional ethics, community development, work with young people and community-based participatory research.

Teaching Areas

  • Teaching includes MA modules on: Community Policy and Practice, Professional and Personal Development, Practitioner Research and Research in Community and Youth Work.

Selected Publications

Articles: magazine

Books: authored

Books: edited

Books: sections

Journal papers: academic

Reports: official

Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Social sciences: Community and youth work: Community development work; community engagement/participation/empowerment
  • Social sciences: Professional ethics, particularly in social work, youth work and community work.

Selected Grants

  • 2012: Tackling ethical issues and dilemmas in community-based participatory research
  • 2011: Community-based Participatory Research: ethics and outcomes, (£28970, Arts and Humanities Research Council)
  • 2011: Debt on Teesside: Pathways to financial inclusion (£108181.00 from Northern Rock Foundation)
  • 2011: Faithful judgements: the role of religion, (£17189.84, Economic and Social Research Council)
  • 2010: Co-inquiry Action Research Project
  • 2009: Evaluation of Myplace
  • 2008: Making ends meet: action research on sustainable livelihoods. Wolfson Research Institute.
  • 2007: Valuing diversity, exploring faith and culture, funded by the Gulbenkian Foundation
  • 2005: Promoting the Social Inclusion of Young People: The Role of Faith Communities, research grant awarded in partnership with Churches Regional Commission in the North East, from Big Lottery Research Grants Programme, £217,870
  • 2002: Ordinary ethics: the moral evaluation of the new genetics by non-professionals - funded by Wellcome Trust
  • 2001: Evaluation of Durham County Council's Community Support Unit and Member Area Panels, 2001-2004
  • 2001: Evaluation of Empowering Communities Scheme (region-wide SRB6 scheme), 2001-2004
  • 2001: Study of capacity of youth work services to engage with Wellcome Trust’s Medicine in Society programme, Wellcome Trust
  • 1999: Ethics Consultation (£4500, National Youth Agency)
  • 1999: Investing in children evaluation, (£155000.00, Investing in Children)
  • 1998: Community Capacity Building Research (£10,000, Groundwork East Durham)