Lecturer awarded Churchill Fellowship for research with Manchester Arena attack survivors

Dr Cath Hill with the Churchill Fellowship logo

A Lancaster University researcher, whose work with survivors of the Manchester Arena attack to explore support for young people affected by terrorism and disasters, has been awarded a £10,000 Churchill Fellowship.

Dr Cath Hill, from the University’s Department of Sociology, is awarded one of only 141 Fellowships out of a total of more than 900 applications across the UK.

A registered social worker and a lecturer in social work at Lancaster University, Dr Hill led a research project designed by and for young survivors of the Manchester Arena attack to determine the varying levels of support received by young survivors

The Bee The Difference report, published in May this year on the sixth anniversary of the attack, revealed three quarters (75%) of children and young people affected were psychologically injured by what happened to them, but more than one in four (29%) never received any professional support in the six years since. Four in ten (40%) of these say it was never offered to them.

By learning from young people’s experiences, the collective hope is that children affected by terror attacks in future receive the best possible support.

Dr Hill who, with her son, survived the attack, worked with a group of nine young survivors and the National Emergencies Trust to present the report which heard from more than 200 young survivors.

“It was,” she says, “evident that the UK was not prepared for an incident which targeted young people and left so many adolescents traumatised.

“The services offered lacked consistency. While there were examples of excellent practice, many were left feeling alone, unsupported and seeking help from professionals who were not adequately trained.

“In response to this, I founded my own peer support group for young survivors and became passionate about advocating for and developing consistent and research-informed support services for adolescents.”

The Fellowship will take Dr Hill to Israel and Norway, to observe and meet with organisations who have supported young people affected by terrorism.

“I hope to use what I learn to work together with disaster response organisations to recognise the specific needs for adolescents and to plan for targeted responses for them,” explains Dr Hill.

She added: “This is a fantastic opportunity, and I am extremely grateful to the Churchill Fellowship for recognising this important work with young people who experience critical incidents. Young people are so often overlooked in disaster planning, and I am determined to use what I have learned to improve future services in the UK. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn from others.”

Chief Executive of The Churchill Fellowship Julia Weston said: “The standard this year was particularly high.

“Being awarded a Fellowship is truly a great achievement. As well as being a great personal achievement, the Fellowship also means that you are now part of a UK wide network of extraordinary individuals who, like you, are highly motivated to improve and develop their particular field, profession or community.”

The Churchill Fellowship is a UK charity which supports individual UK citizens to follow their passion for change, through learning from the world and bringing that knowledge back to the UK and to lead the change they wish to see across every area of UK life.

The charity was founded by public donation in 1965 as the living legacy of Sir Winston Churchill for the nation.

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