The CYCJ Team continues to grow and evolve, with new funding allowing us to do more and extend our reach. In this interview series we sit down with new team members to find out more about who they are, and the nature of the work they’ll be doing for CYCJ. Next to face the music is Research Associate Lucy Holland:
Can you tell us a bit about your background and interests, and how they’ve led you to CYCJ at this point in your career?
Prior to academia, I had experience working with children and young people in a variety of capacities, including residential support work, therapeutic and SEND schools, pupil referral units and summer camps. During this time, I became more interested in returning to study in order to engage more critically with practice in these kinds of environments; doing a Master’s in Child Rights provided the underpinnings for this. I also began volunteering at this time; this was the beginning of my ongoing interest in migration, particularly supporting children and young people subject to the increasingly draconian immigration system here in the UK. Taking a child rights approach to supporting children and young people in their environments, as well as in research, has impressed upon me the importance of their participation in all matters that affect them – and our responsibility as adults to facilitate. CYCJ felt like an important stepping stone into being able to take action in this regard, as well as to share and develop my research skill set.
What’s the nature of the work that you’re doing with CYCJ?
I am leading the evaluation of the Scottish Child Interview Model (SCIM). The evaluation’s aims are to investigate how SCIM has been implemented across nine partnership areas, collating a national and regional picture to date. This will be achieved, firstly, by exploring the experiences of professionals implementing the SCIM in practice and those utilising the outputs of SCIM interviews as evidence in justice proceedings (members of the judiciary).
Another important aim is to ascertain SCIM’s efficacy in providing children and young people with an interview process that is trauma-informed, rights-respecting and appropriate to their needs. We aim to determine SCIM’s impact on the experiences and outcomes of children and young people participating in SCIM interviews. Finally, we will be exploring the use and efficacy of SCIM interviews as Evidence in Chief in criminal proceedings, hearsay in civil proceedings, as well as in Children’s Hearings, and the resulting impact on children and families regarding further evidence requirements (such as being cited to give evidence in court which can be, in itself, traumatic).
What’s your assessment of where the SCIM evaluation is at currently, and next steps?
The plan for the evaluation is currently with the university board of ethics for approval. Once this has been signed off we will be able to begin recruitment of the different groups of participants for interviews, focus groups and participatory data collection. A priority will be in recruiting ‘hard to reach’ participants where there is a large gap in the data regarding SCIM, such as children and the judiciary.
When we’ve spoken before you’ve said that you ‘don’t like to stay in the research bubble’. Could you tell us a bit about the support you’ve provided to refugees and asylum seekers via the South London Refugee Association, and the overlap between your research interests and work on the ground?
I’ve always loved working directly with children and young people – this never changed even after entering into research. Throughout my PhD I volunteered as a caseworker for the SLRA, providing weekly support to young people on areas like accessing services, housing, education as well as immigration-related issues. I often accompanied them to official appointments with children’s services, solicitors and the Home Office. This has provided a rich contextual element to my research, and I have been able to see in ‘real time’ the intersecting and complex effects of the hostile environment on children and young people. This invaluable experience has not only grounded my research, but also grounded me in terms of what is important and where support is most needed from the perspectives of children and young people.
I’ve heard you’re a bit of a fantasy fan. If you had to choose between JRR Tolkien, Joe Abercrombie and George RR Martin, who would you pick to have dinner with and why?
As much as I love them all – it’d have to be George Martin. Hopefully I’d be able to convince him to finish A Song of Ice and Fire!
What’s the best way for people to get in touch if they want to find out more?
You can reach me on my email: email@example.com with any questions.