NEWS

Friends Dancing in Bubbles

NEW PAPER: COMMUNITY IDENTIFICATION, SOCIAL SUPPORT, AND LONELINESS: THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL IDENTIFICATION FOR PERSONAL WELL‐BEING

May 4th, 2021

A new paper by the NTU Social Identity Research Team in the British Journal of Social Psychology explores the relationships between community identification, social support, and loneliness. The abstract reads: "Levels of loneliness across the world have reached epidemic proportions, and their impact upon population health is increasingly apparent. In response, policies and initiatives have attempted to reduce loneliness by targeting social isolation among residents of local communities. Yet, little is known about the social psychological processes underpinning the relationships between community belonging, loneliness, and well‐being. We report three studies which apply the Social Identity Approach to Health to examine the mechanisms underpinning the relationships between community identity, health, and loneliness. Hypotheses were tested through secondary analyses of the 2014–2015 UK Community Life Survey (N = 4,314) as well as bespoke household surveys in a more (N = 408) and less (N = 143) affluent community at high risk of loneliness. Studies 1 and 2a demonstrated that the relationship between community identification and well‐being was mediated by increased social support and reduced loneliness. In Study 2b, community identification predicted well‐being through reduced loneliness, but not through social support. Our results are the first to evidence these relationships and suggest that community‐level interventions that enhance community identification and peer support can promote a potential Social Cure for loneliness."

Crowd with Masks

NEW PAPER: THE MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF COMMUNITY HELPING DURING CRISIS: COORDINATED HELPING, COMMUNITY IDENTIFICATION AND SENSE OF UNITY DURING THE COVID‐19 PANDEMIC

April 5th, 2021

A new paper by the NTU Social Identity Research Team in the Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology explores the mental health benefits of community helping during the COVID-19 pandemic. The abstract reads: Communities are vital sources of support during crisis, providing collective contexts for shared identity and solidarity that predict supportive, prosocial responses. The COVID‐19 pandemic has presented a global health crisis capable of exerting a heavy toll on the mental health of community members while inducing unwelcome levels of social disconnection. Simultaneously, lockdown restrictions have forced vulnerable community members to depend upon the support of fellow residents. Fortunately, voluntary helping can be beneficial to the well‐being of the helper as well as the recipient, offering beneficial collective solutions. Using insights from social identity approaches to volunteering and disaster responses, this study explored whether the opportunity to engage in helping fellow community members may be both unifying and beneficial for those engaging in coordinated community helping. Survey data collected in the UK during June 2020 showed that coordinated community helping predicted the psychological bonding of community members by building a sense of community identification and unity during the pandemic, which predicted increased well‐being and reduced depression and anxiety. Implications for the promotion and support of voluntary helping initiatives in the context of longer‐term responses to the COVID‐19 pandemic are provided.

Image by Hédi Benyounes

NEW PAPER: HEALTHCARE PROVISION INSIDE IMMIGRATION REMOVAL CENTRES: A SOCIAL IDENTITY ANALYSIS OF TRUST, LEGITIMACY AND DISENGAGEMENT

March 23rd, 2021

A new paper by the NTU Social Identity Research Team in Applied Psychology Health and Well-being explores healthcare provision inside Immigration Removal Centres. The abstract reads: The stressors of immigration detention and negative host country experiences make effective access to health care vital for migrant detainees, but little is known regarding the health experiences of this populations and the barriers to healthcare access. The present research investigates immigration detainees’ experiences of health‐related help‐seeking in the distressing and stigmatised environment of UK immigration removal centres (IRCs), as well as staff members’ experiences of providing help. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with 40 detainees and 21 staff and analysed using theoretical thematic analysis guided by the social identity approach. The findings indicate that the practical constraints on help provision (e.g. lack of time and resources, the unpredictable nature of detention) are exacerbated by the complex and conflictual intergroup relationships within which these helping transactions occur. These transactions are negatively affected by stigma, mutual distrust and reputation management concerns, as well as detainees’ feelings of powerlessness and confusion around eligibility to receive health care. Some detainees argued that the help ignores the systematic inequalities associated with their detainee status, thereby making it fundamentally inappropriate and ineffective. The intergroup context (of inequality and illegitimacy) shapes the quality of helping transactions, care experiences and health service engagement in groups experiencing chronic low status, distress and uncertainty.

Family at a Beach

NEW PAPER: FAMILY IDENTITY AS SOCIAL CURE AND CURSE DYNAMICS IN CONTEXTS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

February 5th, 2021

A new paper by the NTU Social Identity Research Team in the European Journal of Social Psychology explores Social Cure and Social Curse processes within families in the context of human rights violations. The abstract reads: "Although Social Cure research shows the importance of family identification in one’s ability to cope with stress, there remains little understanding of family responses to human rights violations. This is the first study to explore the role of family identity in the collective experience of such violations: meanings ascribed to suffering, family coping strategies, and family‐based understandings of justice. Semi‐structured interviews (N=27) with Albanian dictatorship survivors were analysed using Social Identity Theory informed thematic analysis. The accounts reveal Social Cure processes at work, whereby family groups facilitated shared meaning‐making, uncertainty reduction, continuity, resilience‐building, collective self‐esteem, and support, enhanced through common fate experiences. As well as being curative, families were contexts for Social Curse processes, as relatives shared suffering and consequences collectively, whilst also experiencing intergenerational injustice and trauma. Although seeking and achieving justice remains important, the preservation of family identity is one of the triumphs in these stories of suffering."

Image by Atul Pandey

SOCIAL PRESCRIBING RESPONSES FOR MIGRANTS

November 11, 2020

The NTU Social Identity Group has published a report in response to a call for evidence from Public Health England regarding Social Prescribing approaches for migrants. The report is based on two co-production roundtable discussions that the report's lead author Blerina Kellezi organised at NTU in December 2019. These discussions aimed to identify barriers and facilitators of health service access and satisfaction among migrants, and recommendations for using Social Prescribing with migrant populations. The discussions were part of a day-long event organised by the NTU Social identity Group and Nottingham Civic Exchange in order to explore how to adapt Social Prescribing initiatives so that they meet the needs of vulnerable groups. The report can be found here.

Volunteers

OUR NEW SOCIAL PRESCRIBING EVALUATION REPORT

September 28, 2020

The NTU Social Identity Research Team has evaluated Social Prescribing Reducing Isolation in Gedling (SPRIING). More details (including the report) can be found on our Research & Evaluation Reports page

Community Gardening

NEW PAPER: THE SOCIAL CURE OF SOCIAL PRESCRIBING

April 12, 2020

The NTU Social Identity Group has a new paper published in the Journal of Health Psychology, which explores the Social Cure processes which take place within a Social Prescribing initiative. Lead author Dr. Juliet Wakefield explains: Social Prescribing (the supplementation of regular healthcare with lifestyle-related goal setting and support to help patients engage in local community groups) has been evidenced to improve mental and physical health amongst chronically ill patients whose health conditions are exacerbated by loneliness and social anxiety. In the UK, Social Prescribing is being rolled out across the National Health Service, and is central part of the NHS’s Long-Term Plan. However, there is no clear theoretical framework underpinning the design or evaluation of Social Prescribing initiatives, which significantly hampers providers’ ability to understand why, and for whom, these initiatives work. To remedy this, our research was underpinned by the Social Cure perspective, which posits that psychologically-meaningful social groups benefit health through various psychological processes, such as the receipt of much-needed social support from fellow group members during times of stress. In this paper, we examined whether the Social Cure perspective explains the efficacy of a Nottinghamshire Social Prescribing (SP) pathway. We collected data from 630 patients at their point of entry onto the pathway (T0), then again from 178 of these patients four months later at the end of the pathway (T1), and then again from 63 of these patients six-nine months later (T2). Supporting the Social Cure perspective, before participants even began the intervention there was a positive correlation between their number of group memberships and their health-related quality of life. Additionally, participants’ health-related quality of life improved during the intervention (between T0 and T1), and this was predicted by an increase in number of group memberships. This relationship between increased number of group memberships and health-related quality of life was serially mediated by key Social Cure process variables: increased sense of community belonging, increased sense of received community support, and a decreased sense of loneliness. This study is the first to show that Social Prescribing enhances health-related quality of life via Social Cure mechanisms. It is a companion to Kellezi et al.’s 2019 BMJ Open paper, which reports on the same Nottinghamshire Social Prescribing pathway. In that paper, we show that healthcare providers recognise the importance of social factors in determining patient well-being, and consider Social Prescribing to be an effective way to address patients’ social issues, while patients on a Social Prescribing pathway report that they value the different social relationships they create through the pathway. We also report that the healthcare usage of patients on the Social Prescribing pathway negatively predicted primary care usage, and that this relationship was mediated by increases in community belonging and reduced loneliness.

NTU press release about the paper.

Volunteers

NEW PAPER: SOCIAL IDENTITY PROCESSES IN VOLUNTEERING

April 12, 2020

The NTU Social Identity Research Group has a new paper published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, which explores the social identity processes involved in volunteering. Summarising the paper on Twitter, lead author Dr. Mhairi Bowe explained: Our mixed method study with community volunteers in England showed community identity is both motivator for and result of volunteering in the community. Community volunteers describe their volunteering as a result of being committed to a community that has looked after them. Their subsequent volunteering builds this community commitment and sense of belonging in ways that make them want to continue volunteering. Volunteers state that helping within their community also helps them feel their community is supportive and resourceful, and able to help others, including them, should they need help in the future. Survey results show volunteers identify more with their community, feel more supported, and report higher well-being, and mediation analysis illustrate the well-known links between volunteering and well-being are mediated by increased community identification and support. Both interviews and survey suggest community volunteering is linked with better well-being showing Social Cure processes, but also reveal a behaviour that can actively *build* community identification. During the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteering has surged, but its sustainability is vital, as is volunteers' well-being throughout.  Our study suggests strong and supportive community identities can both motivate this volunteering and sustain it, whilst promoting well-being.

NTU press release about the paper.

Soup Kitchen

OUR EVIDENCE IN HOUSE OF LORDS SELECT COMMITTEE REPORT

April 12, 2020

Evidence from foodbank-related research conducted by Dr. Mhairi Bowe and Dr. Juliet Wakefield is featured in the House of Lord's Select Committee on Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment's report, entitled 'Hungry for Change: Fixing The Failures in Food'. The report can be accessed here.

Group Discussion

SOCIAL PRESCRIBING TOOLKIT

April 12, 2025

Based on our research into and evaluation of Social Prescribing initiatives, we, along with our collaborators at University of Winchester and London South Bank University have devised a Social Prescribing Toolkit. This Toolkit has been developed as a resource for individuals or organisations that are involved, or who are considering becoming involved in, Social Prescribing. For more details, please click here.

Family Fun in Field

NEW PAPER: FAMILY IDENTIFICATION AND FINANCIAL RESILIENCE

April 12, 2020

Members of our research group have just published a new paper: Family Identification Facilitates Coping with Financial Stress: A Social Identity Approach to Family Financial Resilience. You can find out more about it on our Publications pageNTU press release about the paper. 

Conference

ICSIH5 POSTPONED

April 12, 2020

Due to COVID-19, we have postponed the 5th International Conference on Social Identity and Health. More details are available via the conference website