The Centre’s Beacon Projects aspire to exemplify the ways in which the Centre aims to create and sustain cultures and environments of health through transdisciplinary engaged research.
Transforming relationships and relationship transitions with and for the next generation: Healthy Relationship Education (HeaRE) and Transitions (HeaRT).
Professor Anne Barlow
Dr Tamsin Newlove-Delgado
Dr Jan Ewing
This project is a partnership between the Law School, the Medical School, and the Graduate School of Education. Our work is concerned with transitions into and out of relationships across the life course and their impact on mental and physical health. We focus in particular on children and young people, in terms of how they can develop the skills needed to have healthy relationships in the future, and how they might be supported to cope with parental relationship breakdown and future relationship transitions of their own. Public narratives around marriage, divorce and relationship breakdown often make expectations around transitioning into and out of relationships intended to be long term, mismatched with reality. Relationships and sex education will form part of the curriculum from September 2020, yet evidence suggests many schools are not well prepared to deliver the aspects which focus on healthy relationships rather than on sex.
Evidence from two projects, the Shackleton Relationships Project and Mapping Paths to Family Justice, showed an appetite among young people for:
· more education at school (which they help to develop) about how to build positive relationships and handle ‘normal’ relationship difficulties
· more information, and for their views to be better represented in mediation processes following parental relationship breakdown
In the HeaRE strand, we are currently exploring the best ways to co-develop messages and materials about healthy relationships together with young people which can be used in schools, based on the core attributes and key skills identified by the Shackleton project. We are also carrying out qualitative research to better understand young people’s perspectives on the most important outcomes of relationship education, which will inform further work on outcome measurement and evaluation.
In the HeaRT strand of this programme, we are focussing on the impact of parental relationship breakdown on children and young people, and how young people and adults can learn skills to cope better with transitioning into and out of a range of relationships across the life course. In particular, we are considering how to make child-inclusive mediation better understood and more accessible for parents and children as well as build wider practitioner confidence in the process. To this end, we are working with mediation agencies, the Family Justice Young People’s Board and relationship experts, as well as interviewing both professionals and families who have participated in child-inclusive mediation.
In a final conference, the findings from the two strands will be brought together to look at how relationship education and family justice processes can normalise relationship transitions, help give voice to young people and build appropriate skills to help them make healthy relationship choices and cope better with relationship difficulties – their own or their parents.