Dr Helen Woods

Department of Social Work and Social Care

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

An experienced qualified social worker, Helen joined the Department for Social Work and Social Care in 2020.  Helen’s social work experience is mainly in the area of Youth Justice, child protection and substance misuse among young people and families.  Helen completed her PhD in 2020 on the lived experience of children’s residential care, particularly in terms of understanding placement breakdown and change.  Helen currently teaches across both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.   

Helen remains passionate about improving the experiences of young people and families involved in social care services and is happy to be pursuing these goals in academia through social work education and research.

Feedback and office hours

Due to COVID-19 it is best to email regarding virtual office hours


  • PhD: University of Nottingham (2020)
  • Associate Fellowship of the HEA (2019)
  • MA Research Methods: University of Nottingham (2015)
  • MA Global Citizenship, Identities and Human Rights:  University of Nottingham (2013)
  • BA Hons Applied social studies with Diploma in Social Work:  University of Bradford (2000)


Having qualified as a social worker in 2000, Helen mainly worked in Youth Offending, Substance Misuse, and Child and Family Social Work.  Helen completed her doctorate at the University of Nottingham on the lived experience of young people in residential care, comprised of ethnographic research in children’s homes. In addition to the above areas of interest, Helen’s research concerns the lived experience of children in care, placement change, and the relationship between social life, personhood and belonging for children and young people.  Prior to joining the University of Birmingham Helen lectured in Youth Justice at Nottingham Trent University. 

Helen currently teaches across the qualifying social work programmes in the department and fulfils the role of Admissions Tutor. 


  • BA Social work
  • MA social work
  • Step Up for Social Work.

Postgraduate supervision

  • Children/Childhood/Youth/Justice Studies.
  • Children in Care/Residential Care.
  • Place attachment/ loss.
  • Mobile/ethnographic methodologies.
  • Substance misuse
  • Stigma
  • Social death and belonging.

Doctoral research

PhD title
‘Residential Care, Stigma and Relational Alienation. Exploring the lived experience of children’s homes with young people and carers - an ethnographic Study.’  ESRC funded doctorate, completed at the University of Nottingham, 2019.

Other activities

Co-chair of the BASW England Criminal Justice Group, Member of BASW and the British Sociological Association.