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Professor Mel Hughes

  • Professor in Social Work
  • Bournemouth Gateway Building BG501, St Pauls Lane, Bournemouth, BH8 8GP
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Mel Hughes is Professor of Social Work at Bournemouth University (BU) and Director of the National Centre for Cross-Disciplinary Social Work. Mel champions lived experience expertise through her roles as Academic Lead for the PIER (Public Involvement in Education and Research) partnership and Deputy Director of the Research Centre for Seldom Heard Voices. Mel is committed to ensuring that those who are most affected by social, economic and health inequalities have a voice in shaping and informing research, education and practice. She has a track record for developing inclusive, arts based, co-created and community led research and co-designed and co-delivered education, training and coaching. She is editor and co-author of the textbooks: ‘A Guide to Statutory Social Work Interventions: The lived experience’ and Social Exclusion in the UK: The lived experience. Chapters are co-authored with people with first-hand experience of statutory interventions including having a child removed; being detained under the Mental Health Act; and going through the adoption process; and of social exclusion including being a refugee, being in prison, and having HIV...



Principal investigator: Parents Story Project: Gaining insight into parental substance use

Principal investigator: evidencing the impact of service user involvement in professional health and social work programmes

The impact of service user and carer involvement on students' subsequent social work practice: a follow up study

Principal Investigator. Gaining insight into the lived experience of older male carers (over the age of 85)

Principal Investigator. Exploring the relationship between rough sleepers and primary care services

Democratising Public Involvement in Research (ESRC bid)

Experiences of separated families (tender bid)

Proper Jobs (funding bid)

Narrative insights for seldom heard voices at risk of digital exclusion in access to healthcare

Research into Inclusive Ageing (ESRC call)


Journal Articles



  • Harvey, O. and Murray, J., 2022. ‘Being Transgender’. In: Hughes, M., ed. Social Exclusion in the UK The lived experience. Critical Publishing.
  • Lenz, S. and Bondsfield, C., 2022. Being a parent in the Child Protection system. In: Hughes, M., ed. Social Exclusion in the UK. St Albans: Critical Publishing, 99-110.
  • Rooney, Z. and Dray, R., 2019. I was detained under the Mental Health Act. In: Hughes, M., ed. A Guide to Statutory Social Work Interventions The Lived Experience. Red Globe Press.
  • Kleipoedszus, S. and Leanne, 2019. My Child was taken into care. In: Hughes, M., ed. A Guide to Statutory Social Work Interventions. The Lived Experience. London: Red Globe Press, 95-107.
  • Hughes, M. and Warren, A., 2018. Use of simulation as a tool for assessment and for preparing students for the realities and complexities of the workplace. Enhancing Employability in Higher Education through Work Based Learning. 73-89.



  • Hughes, M., 2012. Is social work education life changing?: a unitary appreciative inquiry into the impact of social work education on a person's beliefs, values and behaviour. PhD Thesis. Bournemouth University, School of Health and Social Care.


  • End of Life from a Carer's Perspective, 2019. Film.
  • Understanding self management for people with a long term neurological condition, 2019. Film.
  • Transforming health through lifestyle change, 2019. Film.
  • Living with an enteral tube, 2019. Film. Bournemouth, Dorset: Bournemouth University. Available from:
  • Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, 2018. Film.
  • Living with Crohn's: Lou's story, 2017. Film.
  • Experiences of using technology to manage health conditions: Derick's story, 2017. Film. BU PIER Partnership Website: Bournemouth University.
  • Experiences of using technology to manage health conditions: Laura's story, 2017. Film. BU PIER Partnership Website: Bournemouth University.
  • Experiences of using technology to manage health conditions: Carol's story, 2017. Film. BU PIER Partnership Website: Bournemouth University.
  • Simulated Child Protection Conference, 2017. Film.
  • Mothers' experiences of having their baby removed at birth, 2017. Film.
  • Johnny's story, 2016. Film.


PhD Students

  • Stefan Kleipoedszus. Decision making in social work, (In progress)
  • Krista Sharp. Lived experience of young carers, (In progress)
  • Louise Ward. An exploration of the perceptions and experiences of online PPI from public contributors in health and social care research as well as researchers, (In progress)
  • Phil Morgan. co-producing future citizenship alongside people with mental health challenges, (In progress)
  • Rosy Watts. lived experiences of young people through covid, (In progress)
  • Helen Ribchester. a study into the perceptions and engagement in reflective practice of occupational therapists in India.
  • Charlotte Clayton. Models of maternity care for women with low socioeconomic status, living socially complex lives: What works, for whom, and in what circumstances
  • Matt Simpson. Exploring decision making in the Approved Mental Health Professional role

Profile of Teaching PG

  • First substantive placement
  • Final substantive placement
  • Social work dissertation (supervisor)
  • Graduate Certificate in Practice Education (Enabling learners)
  • Msc Clinical Research (Public Involvement in Research unit lead)

Profile of Teaching UG

  • First substantive placement
  • BA social work: Learning from the lived experience unit
  • Final substantive placement


  • Whatever it Takes (National Institute on Handicapped Research, 01 Dec 2023). Awarded
  • HealthBus impact evaluation (Bournemouth HealthBus, 01 Mar 2023). Completed
  • co-designing inclusive research with local communities: The researching Hidden Hunger project (CRN Wessex, 01 Feb 2023). Completed
  • Reaching Communities under-served by research, training and coaching (CRN Wessex, 01 Feb 2023). Completed
  • Disability and Cancer - supporting community research (Help and Care, 05 Sep 2022). Completed
  • Hidden Dorset 3 (Dorset Community Foundation, 04 Jul 2022). Completed
  • Narrative insights for seldom heard voices at risk of digital exclusion in access to healthcare (National Voices, 01 Dec 2020). Completed
  • Patient voice (Community fund (Healthwatch Dorset), 04 Feb 2019). In Progress
  • Older carers story project (Dorset Community Fund, 19 Nov 2017). Completed
  • Film creation to embed public involvement in education (BU Centre for Excellence in Learning (CEL), 06 Feb 2017). Completed
  • The power of narrative and stories in enabling learning for professional practice (Higher Education Academy, 16 Apr 2013). Completed

Internal Responsibilities

  • Deputy Chair TeachBU Assessment Panel, TeachBU
  • Programme lead for BA and MA Social work, BA and MA social work
  • Deputy Lead of Research Centre for Seldom Heard Voices, Research Centre for Seldom Heard Voices
  • Academic lead for BU PIER partnership, BU Public involvement in Education and Research (PIER) partnership.

Journal Reviewing/Refereeing

  • Health Expectations, 01 Apr 2019
  • The British Journal of Social Work, 01 Jul 2013
  • International journal of social work education, Anonymous peer review, 01 Jul 2013

Conference Presentations

  • Wessex AHSN Community of Practice, Older male carers project, 26 Jul 2021, Hampshisre
  • Inter-Scottish university user forum, Involvement in an online world, 24 Mar 2021, online
  • Wessex PIN workshop, Engaging marginalised groups in research, 23 Mar 2021, online
  • Inter-Scottish University user involvement forum, PIER involvement in social work, 19 Oct 2020, University of Edinburgh
  • The Association of Child Protection Professionals Annual Conference ’40 years on…celebrating innovative and excellent practice and research in child protection’, 01 Nov 2019, York
  • Putting our heads together: Turning involvement into influence, Do we need new models of public involvement if we are to engage a more diverse range of voices?, 30 Jul 2019, Tel Aviv Israel
  • Humanisation Conference 2019, Using Transformative learning theory to humanise the curriculum, 13 Jun 2019, Bournemouth University
  • Humanisation Conference 2018, Humanising social work practice. Reflections on writing a book with service users and carers. A Guide to Statutory Social Work Interventions: The lived experience., 20 Jun 2018, Bournemouth
  • SocNet European Social work education conference, SocNet International Social work Education Conference. Bournemouth University,16-18 April 2018 Embedding the lived experience into Social work Education: the BU model., 16 Apr 2018, UK
  • INVOLVE conference 2018, Building on a partnership’s experiences from coordinating involvement in health and social care education to developing user-led research: lessons learnt, 28 Nov 2017, London
  • Humanisation Conference 2017, The older male carers research project, 28 Jun 2017, Bournemouth, UK
  • Joint Social Work Education Conference: Celebrating that which unifies us, Unitary appreciative inquiry – research method, therapeutic intervention and innovative pedagogy., 13 Jul 2016, Milton Keynes
  • Challenges and best practice in co-production, Taking a life of its own: reflections on co-production with a theatre company and film makers’, 18 May 2016, Sheffield University
  • Service user and carer coordinators in HE, Sharing good practice, 28 Oct 2015, Bournemouth
  • Gaining insght into parental substance use, The Parents Story Project: Unitary appreciative inquiry, 29 Apr 2015, Bournemouth


  • Doctorate in Professional Practice in Social Work Education (Bournemouth University, 2012)
  • Practice Educator award in Social work practice education (BU, 2005)
  • MA in Social Work (Edinburgh University, 1997)


  • National Teaching Fellow (Advance HE, 2019)
  • Special Recognition Carers Award for the Older Carers Research study (Bournemouth Echo Carers Awards, 2018)
  • Finalist (shortlisted) The David Watson International Award for community partnerships (The David Watson International Award for community partnerships, 2017)
  • Finalist of Unsung Hero category (Bournemouth University VC Award, 2017)
  • Senior Fellow (HEA, 2015)
  • Shine overall winner for ‘Hearing the Patient Voice in Education and Training’ (HEA Wessex, 2015)


  • British Association of Social Work, Member,
  • HCPC, Member,
  • Social Work England, Registered Social Worker,