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Helen Woolley

Helen Woolley

Project title

Securing a Sense of Safety for Adopted Children in Middle Childhood


Research Clusters

Identities, Embodiments and Selves

Geographies of Social Change

Headshot of Helen Woolley

Project description

This research will contribute to the debates within children’s geography, childhood studies and the profession of social work; by drawing together the knowledge from human geography on security, insecurity, cultural geography and spatial belonging with the knowledge in social work of narrative, attachment and outcomes for adopted children in order to consider the concept of security for them. It will explore how children’s security is conceptualised through the interventions of adults and, how children make meaning about their immediate world. By engaging with the debates on the social and materialist construction of spaces by adults and children and creatively utilizing mapping techniques the research will add to our understanding and practice of how to increase the well-being and feeling of ontological security experienced by adopted children. The research is co-produced with junior researchers who have identified key themes and will focus on analysing the sense they make of how to feel secure (self-securitisation) within their spaces. Thus adding to our understanding of how researchers and practitioners can help extend robust multi-dimensional (physical, virtual, temporal, imaginative) pathways of security (safety narratives) within their worlds.


PGR Conference, Durham University : Global Challenges; Who is Counting? Liminal Spaces and Lost Childhoods (20/11/2020)

RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum : CYP and Families: Ethical Conduct Towards Participants and Self as a Junior Social Researcher of Children (19/4/2021)

HaSS PGR Conference, Newcastle University: Secure Identity Stories Across Space and Time (16/6/2021)

NINEDTP Virtual Summer School: “Shadows, Mangos, Puddles and Relax: Recursive participative Meaning Making through embodied stories” (6/7/2021)


BA Applied Social Studies and Social Work (Bradford University)
PG Certificate in Higher Education Teaching (Teesside University)
MSc International Development Management (OU)

Social Work Tutor and Lecturer (Teesside, Sunderland and MMU 2004-2021)
Regional Placement Coordinator NE Teaching Partnership (NESWA) (2017-2019)
TA Social Geography (Semester 1, 2020), Study Skills (Sem 1 &2, 20/21)

Academic Qualifications, Organisational Membership and Acheivements

Pandemic, Placements and the Future NESWA Report, September 2020

Editorial Assistant Journal of Children's Geographies
Registered Social Worker with Social Work England, SW85797
Member of British Association of Social Work


You can find out more about Helen and her research via her LinkedIn page.