Homelessness is an alarming problem in the UK and costs the economy in excess of £1 billion each year. Young people aged 16 to 24 years make up over 30% of the homeless statistic, and experience significant physical and mental health problems as a result of their unstable and stressful living situation. More than half of these vulnerable young people are also not in education, employment or training (NEET) and lack important independent living skills. Physical activity has been shown to be effective in the treatment of mental illness and disorders, as well as for improving well-being in adults. However, this research has overlooked the impact of increasing activity levels in homeless young people with complex trauma for improving their physical and mental health, as well as the confidence needed to be more independent and lead fulfilling lives.
This PhD studentship will be done in collaboration with St Basils to examine the benefits of engaging homeless young people in a positive youth development (PYD)-based physical activity intervention. PYD involves a strengths-based approach to involving young people in positive activities, such as sport, where they will have the opportunity to develop interpersonal and intrapersonal skills that are transferable to other life domains (e.g., school, work). Not only does this type of intervention have many psychosocial benefits and addresses the NEF Five Ways to Wellbeing principles, but it can also lead to physical benefits from being less sedentary.
For a PYD-physical activity intervention to have maximum benefit for homeless young people, the specific psychological and emotional needs of these often hard to reach young people will need to be fully recognised. To address this issue, the PhD will involve three studies:
1. A systematic review to determine the physical, mental, and social benefits of physical activity in homeless young people (Year 1)
2. A mixed-methods study (focus groups, questionnaires, and accelerometers) to determine baseline physical activity levels and psychosocial determinants of physical activity in homeless young people (Year 2)
3. A feasibility study to determine whether it is possible to engage homeless young people in a PYD-based physical activity intervention (Year 3)
- You should hold (or expect to receive) a good honours degree at first or upper second class level
- If applying for an award without an undergraduate degree, you may be accepted for doctoral funding if you have achieved a Master’s degree
- An English qualification (e.g., GCSE, IELTS, TOEFL etc.)
- Strong research and communication skills, including experience in mixed methods research designs (minimum established competency in either qualitative and/or quantitative methods)
- An interest and/or experience in working with vulnerable young people
- A valid DBS check
How to apply:
You will need to complete two separate applications:
1. Application to study a PhD in Sport and Exercise Sciences (Part or Full-time Research – 2016/2017) Click on “apply for this course” on http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/research/sport-exercise/sport-exercise-sciences.aspx. Locate the course on the list, and then click “Apply Now”. This will take you to the University’s online portal. Guidance notes on how to complete the online portal is available here: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/apply-pg/application-guidance-notes.aspx
2. Application for funding from the ESRC Doctoral Training Centre (http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/dr-fees/esrc/apply-funding.aspx). Please read the guidance notes before completing the form. You will be applying under the “Health and Wellbeing pathway” with the project title “Determining the Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Physical Activity in Homeless Young People”.
Both applications with all supporting document must be received by 16:00 on Friday, 19th February 2016.
Please note that the ESRC Doctoral Training Centre Funding Application Form must be sent to the Research Council Studentship Team ([email protected]
) along with the supporting documents requested on the submission checklist.