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I am delighted to welcome you to the first issue of Social Policy Matters, a magazine where we share news about what we are doing in the School of Social Policy.

Our stated mission is to understand the world and to change it and this magazine will showcase the work of our community of scholars – academics, professional services, students, research partners and alumni – in striving to make the world a better place for everyone.

This magazine is one of the School’s first innovations since taking up my role as Head of School in September 2020. Before joining the School, I was already aware that it had been at the forefront of social policy scholarship for many years. I have become even more aware of its impressive reputation and portfolio of activities in my short time in post. Preparing for the Research Excellence Framework (REF2021), an exercise to measure the quality of research and the research environment of all UK higher education institutions, as well as meeting with colleagues, has given me an in-depth insight into its range of research, education, engagement and impact activities. I have been particularly impressed by the ways in which we involve user communities in our research and teaching and our work to make a real difference to people’s lives.

The last year has been extremely challenging – we have lived with uncertainty and adapted to rapidly changing circumstances in the face of the pandemic. Our academics, professional services colleagues and our students have all met this challenge head on. They have exceeded expectations and dug deep to provide a positive learning environment and kept our research going. Our students have continued their learning journeys. We have delivered teaching online on an impressive scale and at a speed which would have been thought impossible only a year ago. It is to the credit of our staff and students that this has been possible, particularly our students from the NHS Leadership Academy many of which have been working on the frontline. At the same time, academic colleagues have been at the forefront of research, exploring the impact of Covid-19 on individuals seeking asylum and on those on low incomes, the impact on the third sector and how to do child protection well during a pandemic. These projects will provide a unique source of knowledge about life in these unprecedented times.

The School has a world-leading reputation for high quality and high impact research and innovative teaching and the purpose of this magazine is to bring our work to a wider audience. Importantly, our students will be regular contributors. Not only do they achieve great things academically, but many undertake extra curricula activities which dovetail with the School’s mission. We look forward to including more about their important contributions over the coming years. Our community extends beyond the University to our alumni and research partners and we welcome news and insights from these groups too.

The vision for Social Policy Matters is that it becomes a focus for reporting on all aspects of life in the School and about the work of our community including our alumni, research partners, and potential students from across the world. Everyone is welcome to contribute to what we hope will be a long-standing record of our work and achievements. This issue is the beginning of this exciting project and the content of the magazine will develop over time. Ideas for its development as well as contributions are very welcome. As the School continues to undertake its exciting work, in research, education, impact and engagement, I hope you will continue to read and find interest in Social Policy Matters

Professor Anthea Hucklesby

March 2021