Changing Lives

Understanding what enables children growing up in adversity to thrive in modern Britain

Dr Siân Pooley (History) and Dr Lucy Bowes (Experimental Psychology) from the University of Oxford are developing connections with national charities, local governments, and researchers from across a wide range of disciplines. The network explores and shares knowledge about how to use evidence to inform children’s services in a more effective way.


Changing lives understanding what enables children growing up in adversity to thrive in modern britain


Dr Pooley and Dr Bowes lead the Childhood Adversity and Lifetime Resilience project, hosted by TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities). Their research uses historical data to examine how children growing up in adverse circumstances were affected by these experiences.  The historical evidence is then linked to epidemiological data on the life-long impact of early adversity on educational outcomes, social functioning, physical health and mental well-being. By working interdisciplinarily, the researchers hope to identify the relationships, environments, resources, actions and interventions that best support people to thrive following childhood adversity. As one result of this research, Dr Pooley and Dr Bowes are interested in how these findings might contribute to improvements in contemporary policy and practice in children’s services, explored in this Knowledge Exchange project.

Funding from Oxford's ESRC Impact Acceleration Award means that the project team will have the opportunity to explore 4 key questions developed together with their partner organisations from different sectors:

  • How can interdisciplinary research enhance our understanding of what helps children exposed to neglect or abuse to thrive?
  • What do we already know about what helps particular groups of children and when?
  • How can research be designed so that its implications can be translated into evidence that can best support policy-makers, professionals, carers and children?
  • What are the opportunities for future collaborative work?

Using an IAA Kick-Starting Impact award, the team are building long-term relationships to develop a new approach to children’s services. An interactive collaborative workshop begins this conversations by identifying, analysing, sharing and using evidence for what best supports children to thrive in adverse circumstances, specifically exposure to neglect and abuse. The team hopes to enable dialogue between practice-led partners from children’s health and social care, from local government and children’s charities, and researchers from the humanities, social and health sciences. These conversations will be the starting point for future potential collaborations that will build on these priorities by developing concrete proposals for how researchers can work together with practice-led partners to improve outcomes for children. 


Childhood Adversity and Lifetime Resilience


Contact the project team

Dr. Siân Pooley

Faculty of History, University of Oxford

Dr Lucy Bowes

Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford

Key Project Activities


• A workshop for 30 invited experts to share expertise, establish priorities, and create partnerships

• Collecting evidence and communicating shared findings widely

• Initial funding to develop longer-term partnership activities, including meetings, publications, and further funding applications