SPA Awards 2010

Award winners 2010The 2010 Social Policy Association Awards Ceremony was held during the Association’s Annual Conference, at the University of Lincoln 5-7th July 2010. The awards, sponsored by Cambridge University Press and The Policy Press, were presented by the SPA President, the Financial Times journalist Nick Timmins.

The 2010 winners were (from left to right on photo): Professors Jan Pahl (Univ of Kent) and Ruth Lister (Univ of Loughborough) won the Lifetime Achievement Award; Helen Dickinson (Univ of Birmingham) won the Best Newcomer; and Karl Wilding from NCVO won Outstanding Contribution from a Non-Academic.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Awarded jointly to Professors Ruth Lister and Jan Pahl. In accepting the award, Professor Ruth Lister said:

“I’m proud and honoured to receive this award.”

“My career has been a ‘game of two halves’ – the first half was with the Child Poverty Action Group, and the second half has been as an academic. I have been very fortunate to end up in the inter-disciplinary social sciences department at Loughborough which has been a fantastic place to work and where I feel I’ve flourished academically.”

“I look at the social changes ahead with a sense of foreboding. Whilst we are not faced with a Thatcherite government, it feels like a turning point nonetheless. In particular, benefits are being played off against services in the framing of cuts. Despite a genuine concern with government about poverty and inequality, it is my fear that we will see both increase. Academics now have a responsibility to use the tools, knowledge, skills and evidence to counter how government is framing this situation.”

“Although I will be retiring in September, I hope I will continue to play a part in the battles that lie ahead. I like to think of myself as an academic-activist, but I suspect the balance may go more towards the activist part over the next few years.”

“I’m encouraged to see so many younger women making their mark and taking up the torch of feminist social policy.”

In accepting the award, Professor Jan Pahl said:

“I’m thrilled, honoured and surprised to be given this Award.”

“I attended my first Social Policy Association Conference in 1979, which in some ways is comparable to today in that Margaret Thatcher had just been elected, and there was some pessimism as to the ability of social policy academics to shape policy. But papers given at that 1979 conference had a profound effect, so academic researchers should feel encouraged – change in our field takes time, but it does happen. Good research, well disseminated, can make a real difference.”

“A highlight of my career was being sent by the Home Office to be the UK representative at the United Nations meeting on violence against women in Vienna. I remember feeling that I was speaking for the women I’d interviewed at the refuge – there I was in Vienna saying things in their words about their experience of being abused by their husbands. It was very thrilling – that went on to be built into UN policies on violence against women, which are now signed up to globally. The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women has been part of UN policy since 1994”

“I’m extremely concerned about inequality and poverty. Globally, 25,000 children every day die from the effects of starvation, and we have to act – it’s something a global society shouldn’t tolerate.”

“We should be very concerned about the current round of cuts. It seems to me that we’re coming at this from two directions – we’re cutting benefits for poor people, and we’re making more people poor. It will be those who work for the good of society – the care assistants and teaching assistants – who will find themselves out of work and much, much poorer.”

The Award for Outstanding Contribution from a Non-Academic

Awarded to Karl Wilding and the Research Team at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

In accepting the award, Karl said:

“I’m incredibly proud to win this.”

“Too many voluntary organisations are quite negative about working with academics, but I’ve always found my relationships with them to be absolutely fantastic, and I’ve worked with some brilliant people.”

“I’m lucky to have a Chief Executive and Board who think that robust research is really important.”

“These are difficult times, and despite the warm words of the ‘Big Society’, it is important to challenge policy makers about those ideas that don’t seem that well-formed.”

The Award for Best Newcomer

Awarded to Helen Dickinson. In accepting the award Helen said:

“I’m incredibly proud of this Award. I don’t consider this to be a solo effort – rather, it is a testament to the support I’ve received at the Health Service and Management Centre in the School of Social Policy.”

“Publishing has been exciting, but the biggest highlights are when you do some research that actually makes a difference.”

“Being an early career researcher can be challenging, but I guess I’m really lucky. I’m in a Department and as a School that is really supportive, and there something about early career researchers supporting each other that has been really helpful. You can’t underestimate the importance of networking.”

“All eyes are on the economy now, with cost-cutting being a really important driver. The important things that social policy researchers do is that, although we help with delivery of this agenda in some ways, we must also draw people’s attention to ethical and moral issues – not just with regard to people who use welfare services, but also to those who work in them. I’m seeing a lot of people feeling thoroughly depressed and disenfranchised by the amount of change going on, and that’s not sustainable. We have a duty of care to protect these people, and our position as researchers allows us to speak to some of those things and draw attention to them.”