I have recently graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in Sociology. I am now studying a Masters in Childhood Studies, and then hope to become a social worker. I am passionate about challenging social inequality, particularly where children and young people are concerned. My dissertation for my undergraduate degree researched food poverty and inequality, with a particular focus on stigma. This was my first extended research project and was something I really enjoyed doing. My dissertation tutor, Kim Allen, brought the Child and Youth Poverty Conference to my attention. The conference was the first I have ever been to, and so I was very excited to attend.
The day was very enriching and enjoyable, and I learnt a lot from both of the keynote speakers Jonathon Bradshaw and Tracy Shildrick, and all of the papers discussed in the parallel sessions. The first parallel session I attended was chaired by Jonathon Darling and was centred on child welfare and youth justice. A particularly interesting paper for me was from Jayne Price, titled “Exploring the pathways and transitions between juvenile secure estate and adult penal institutions”. Jayne discussed the way in which young offenders move from a Young Offenders Institute to an adult establishment when they turn eighteen, receiving little help with the transition, despite the many differences in the two settings. This evidently presents problems and difficulties for the young people, but as Jayne points out, there are so few young people making the transition, the difficulties have not been discussed or researched in much detail, and are far from being resolved. Whilst I have always been interested in young people and crime, and have taken modules during my Sociology degree on crime in general, this is not a topic I have previously come across. I understand that Jayne is researching this topic for her PhD and I would be interested in keeping up to date with her research.
The second parallel session I attended was chaired by Gill Main and was on poverty and policy. Again, it was very enriching to hear about a variety of papers, but there were two papers in this session that were of particular interest to me. Abigail Knight discussed a paper which she has been involved in on “young people’s food experiences in contexts of poverty and gentrification”, and Annie Connolly discussed the beginnings of her research on “child food insecurity in the UK: dimensions, definitions and measurement – the importance of child self-report”. As previously mentioned my dissertation for my undergraduate degree was on food poverty and insecurity. To aid my research I worked at a food bank in Leeds for a year and learnt a lot about the topic through interviews and observations. When I was doing my literature review I found that there has not been that much research on the topic, despite it being a serious and rapidly increasing social issue. It was very exciting to hear about both of the papers, and I found I could relate to what was being said. My dissertation did not focus on young people, and I would take interest in looking at food poverty among young people specifically. These papers and the discussions at the conference have inspired this interest further.
The day ended with an open discussion, and I found it very valuable to listen to what other people had enjoyed and got out of the day. I found the conference useful for my studies, and I feel that there are papers I have been introduced to that will aid my Masters. I would definitely like to attend more academic conferences in the future!