Life behind bars: can prison be better than this?

Anastasia Chamberlen is Assistant Professor in Sociology at the Department of Sociology, University of Warwick and is researching in the fields of prison sociology, feminist criminology and criminal justice.

English and Welsh prisons are undergoing one of their most challenging periods in decades. As I’m writing this piece, news emerges of yet another outbreak of violence in an English prison. This time, it’s the high security HMP Long Lartin in Worcestershire, a prison described by the Ministry of Justice as ‘well-staffed’, which saw 81 prisoners take over a wing, raising once again concerns about safety and order in English carceral institutions.

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Time for Parliament to allow for job-sharing MPs?

rosie-campbell 150Rosie Campbell is Professor of Politics at Birkbeck, University of London. She has recently written on what voters want from their parliamentary candidates, attitudes to MPs’ roles, the politics of diversity and gender and voting behaviour. She is the principal investigator of the ESRC-funded Representative Audit of Britain.

sarah childs 150Sarah Childs is Professor of Politics and Gender at Birkbeck, University of London. Her research centres on the theory and practice of women’s representation, gender and political parties, and re-gendering parliaments.

Just because MPs don’t job-share at the moment doesn’t mean they never will. We think it’s worth asking why the practices of flexible working, which have helped many people access to the labour market, don’t yet apply to our democratic institutions.

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Disadvantage and worklessness: a longitudinal perspective

Rob DaviesRob Davies is Public Affairs Manager for CLOSER, the UK longitudinal studies consortium funded by the ESRC and the Medical Research Council. CLOSER brings together eight biomedical and social longitudinal studies, with participants born as early as the 1930s to the present day.

Before I worked for CLOSER I helped run a charity supporting vulnerable people with different needs, including addictions, mental health problems, debt or homelessness. I saw first-hand the damaging effects of these complex issues and the barriers people face in their attempts to get back to work and take advantage of opportunities many of us take for granted.

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Tackling the social costs of mental ill health

Gordon HaroldProfessor Gordon Harold is the Andrew and Virginia Rudd Professor of Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex.

Today the government launches its Improving Lives: Helping Workless Families policy paper, which aims to improve outcomes for children who grow up in workless families. A core emphasis of the report is on ESRC-funded research showing that children who experience acrimonious conflict between parents are at risk for multiple poor outcomes, including reduced mental health.

Here, Gordon highlights the role of social science in improving mental health research and the outcomes this can have on society.

Mental health is fundamentally the bedrock of a successful and productive society. Recent estimates (PDF) suggest that by the year 2020, depression will represent the second leading cause of time lost to illness. In 2015, mental health-related issues were found to lead to approximately 17.6 million days sick leave, or 12.7 per cent of the total sick days taken in the UK. Continue reading