Selected Publications


Safeguarding Black Children: Good Practice in Child Protection (2016) Professor Claudia Bernard & Dr Perlita Harris (eds), Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Available to purchase from The Word Bookshop, 314 New Cross Road

Providing an exploration of the key issues, this book offers practical advice on how to improve the safeguarding and welfare of black children and young people in need. 

With contributions from academics, researchers and practitioners, it promotes an understanding of the particular cultural and social issues that affect black children in relation to child protection.

It highlights how race and racism, as well as culture, faith and gender, can influence the ways need and risk are interpreted and responded to. Drawing on insights from research evidence, case examples and practice guidelines, it outlines the range of factors that contribute to the vulnerability of black children and describes how to improve techniques of working with minority ethnic families.

The book covers issues such as the effects of parental mental health problems, living with domestic violence, child maltreatment, and demonstrates how these might be understood differently for black children and young people. There are also chapters on topics such as female genital mutilation, witchcraft and forced marriage. 

Essential reading for all social workers and child protection workers, as well as students and support managers, Safeguarding Black Children provides the tools and understanding needed to better support these children.

'This book represents a bold and important departure in navigating the fine line between acknowledging the heterogeneity and strengths of black families and the known and systemised risk factors that mean black children are overrepresented across a range of safeguarding issues. It is truly a tour de force in breadth and in depth, addressing issues facing new migrants as well as those in established black communities. Sometimes challenging and contentious in their investigation, at times painful and moving in the content covered, but always exacting in drawing on the evidence base, these scholars have produced a collection that is a must for contemporary practice.'
- Professor Charlotte Williams, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia


Chosen Living with Adoption (2012), Dr. Perlita Harris (ed), BAAF

Chosen brings together essays and poetry by over 50 adopted adults born between 1934 and 1984. Some are established writers, others are new and emerging while some have never been published before. They capture a broad range of perspectives: adoption within the extended family; late-discovery adopted adults; transracial and transnational adoption; those who have searched for birth family, and those who did not search but were found by a relative.

As these writers look back across their lives, we learn about the variety of ways they have found to live, and sometimes struggle, with adoption, and how some embrace it not only today but also in the next generation. The themes of identity and belonging, loss and grief, roots and searching, family and ‘post-reunion’ relationships permeate these accounts, as does the power of acceptance and healing, encouragement and hope, and taking responsibility for the direction one’s life takes, whatever one’s beginnings.

‘Chosen should be read by anyone whose life is touched by adoption. Whether you have an adopted son or daughter, niece or nephew, friend or colleague, whether you are a social worker or a government minister, this book will give you crucial insights on the legacy of adoption.’ Hannah Pool


‘Supporting LGBT people with cancer: A practical guide for cancer and other health professionals’ (2012), Dr. Julie Fish & Dr. Perlita Harris; De Montfort University, the ESRC and MacMillan Cancer Support.

‘Supporting LGBT people with cancer: A practical guide for cancer and other health professionals’ by Julie Fish and Perlita Harris, published in 2012 by De Montfort University, the ESRC and MacMillan.

Quality of life and care are important aspects of cancer survivorship and there is now a greater focus on recovery, health and well being after treatment. While Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) people report many good experiences of care, there are some areas that still need attention. These case examples of practice are intended to support professionals to personalise care for LGBT people with cancer. The guidance aims to give practical advice where cancer professionals may feel unsure or embarrassed about what to say without fear of causing offence. Download the guide: Supporting LGBT people with cancer.


Faith and Social Capital after the Debt Crisis (2012), Dr Adam Dinham, Palgrave Macmillan

This book examines the impact of viewing faiths as social capital, exploring whether faith can help rebalance society by drawing communities together

The founding father of ‘social capital’, Pierre Bourdieu, said that treating the church as an economic enterprise would lead to uproar, disbelief and the laughter of the bishops. Yet, in the last couple of decades, policy-makers and social scientists have increasingly sought to capitalize on faith by asking whether it produces social capital. In the context of faith-based social action in communities, this book asks what becomes of faiths when seen as social capital? Is the social subjugated to the capital part of the equation? As the debt crisis took hold, doesn’t the relationship between the social and capital seem increasingly unbalanced? Using new research, theory and critical analysis, this book asks whether faiths can help rebalance society in favour of the human scale of life in communities, focusing on the value of the ordinary relationships which are already there, regardless of their wider ‘use’.


Post-Qualifying Mental Health Social Work Practice (2012), Professor Jim Campbell & Dr Gavin Davidson, Sage

Social workers and other professionals working in the area of mental health often face complex and difficult practice dilemmas shaped by increasingly demanding policy and legal contexts across the UK.

Jim Campbell and Gavin Davidson focus on the post-qualifying role played by mental health social workers in this book. The authors draw on theoretical and research perspectives on the subject, before outlining how professionals can achieve best practice.

Topics covered include:

  • Models of mental health and illness
  • Discrimination and social exclusion
  • Addressing service user needs
  • Carer perspectives
  • Working with individuals, families and communities

The chapters are accompanied by exercises, which encourage readers to critically reflect on their own professional and personal experiences. Case studies are also included, so that students can reappraise the knowledge they have learned in the text.

The book will be essential reading for social work practitioners taking postgraduate courses in mental health and for those training to become Approved Mental Health Practitioners.


Social Work Research and Social Justice, is the theme of a special issue of the Journal of Social Work and Social Sciences Review, Vol 15 (3) 2012, Dr Claudia Bernard and Professor Lynn MacDonald (Eds).

This special edition of the Journal consists of papers by participants from the ESRC Researcher Development Initiative. The papers span a broad range of topics, including sexual abuse perpetrated by professional helpers, the involvement of service users in post-qualifying social work education, teaching about risk and social justice to social work students, systematic reviews in social work, the self in social work, and image-based methodologies to engage conceptually and empirically with the debates that have shaped the social work discipline. The papers within this issue all raise important questions concerning user involvement and key social work values, such as social justice, which were key themes running through all of the RDI activities. (


Modernism and Race (2011), Professor Len Platt (ed), Cambridge University Press

The 'transnational' turn has transformed modernist studies, challenging Western authority over modernism and positioning race and racial theories at the very centre of how we now understand modern literature. Modernism and Race examines relationships between racial typologies and literature in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, drawing on fin de siécle versions of anthropology, sociology, political science, linguistics and biology. Collectively, these essays interrogate the anxieties and desires that are expressed in, or projected onto, racialized figures. They include new outlines of how the critical field has developed, revaluations of canonical modernist figures like James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, Ford Madox Ford and Wyndham Lewis, and accounts of writers often positioned at the margins of modernism, such as Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay and the Holocaust writers Solomon Perel and Gisella Perl. This timely collection by leading scholars of modernism will make an important contribution to a growing field.


Taking Part? Active Learning for Active Citizenship and beyond (2010), Professor Marjorie Mayo and John Annette, NIACE

This book explores the contemporary approaches to democratic citizenship and community based education. It provides a series of case studies and reflects on the lessons of national initiatives. The case studies include examples of active learning for active citizenship with refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers as well as with anti-racist activists among more established communities. There are also case studies of programmes working with a range of women, people with disabilities and their carers, and with faith based organisations. The book goes on to look at these approaches in a wider context, looking at the potential for developing global dimensions to citizenship, in an increasingly globalised world.


Pathways to Permanence for Black, Asian and Mixed Ethnicity Children (2010), Selwyn, J., Quinton, D., Harris, P., Wijedasa, D., Nawaz, S. and Wood, M, BAAF

In the UK, social workers are required by law to take into account a child’s ethnicity, along with other significant factors, when planning for and placing children in permanent placements. In practice, however, decisions are made difficult by the complexity of children’s heritages.

Little research attention has been paid to how social workers understand and respond to ethnic differences, and local authorities have only been required to record the ethnicity of children in their care since 2001. This has revealed that minority ethnic children are less likely to be placed for adoption, and questions have been raised about whether this is because they receive a differential social work service than white children, or that the emphasis on same-race matched placements restricts choice, or that there is a lack of suitable adopters.

This study, funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, under the Adoption Research Initiative, explores the care pathways of minority ethnic children in three authorities in England, and considers possible differences in decision making and outcomes for them, in comparison with white children, especially in relation to permanence. The study raises key questions about our understanding of ethnicity and culture and how this is reflected in social work practice, especially in regard to making permanent placements for minority ethnic children. This book will be of considerable interest to anyone involved in adoption, from practitioners and managers to policy makers.


Lucy Faithfull: Mother to hundreds (2010), Judith Niechcial, Compositions by Carn

A life-long and passionate campaigner for children, Baroness Lucy Faithfull (1910-1996) was one of the most eminent social workers of the twentieth

  1. She worked with evacuees in the Second World War, then headed the excellent Children’s Department in Oxford. She founded the charity
  2. Olive Stevenson

‘The Lucy Faithfull Foundation’ which pioneers therapeutic work with sex offenders. Mrs Thatcher made her a Tory life peer, but she opposed, and persuaded others to oppose, so many of the measures which the Party supported in relation to the welfare of children, that the Tory whips gave her the nick-name of ‘Lady Faithless’.

‘A compelling account of a remarkable woman in the context of her family, her class, her social milieu and very troubled times. [This book] sheds more light, through careful enquiry, in the development of social work, especially child welfare over a substantial period.’


Something that never went away (2009), Dr. Perlita Harris & Chris Waterman (eds), Adults Affected by Adoption NORCAP

The experiences of people who have been personally affected by adoption or being in care are seldom heard. Rarely are they given a voice to say what this experience means to them and to describe their experience of seeking renewed contact with relatives - sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers - or being contacted by a relative from whom they have lost all contact.

Through poetry, art, memoir and autobiography, over thirty contributors tell it like it is. Something that never went away brings together the powerful and poignant testimonies of birth mothers, a birth father, adopted children, adopted adults, adults who have grown up in foster and residential care, and adoptive mothers. The poetry, artwork and prose are tender and touching, uplifting and, at times, heart-rending.

This highly original anthology brings together established writers, emerging writers and those who have never been published before, plus contributions from a range of celebrities including Kriss Akabusi, Jo Brand, Tracey Emin, David Gower, Lenny Henry, Richard Rogers, Alan Sillitoe, Clare Short, Meera Syal, Joanna Trollope, Gok Wan and Benjamin Zephaniah.

A number of established writers who are adopted or have been in care can also be found here. They include Nicole J Burton, Vanessa Gebbie, Valerie Mason-John, Zara H Phillips, Jacqueline Walker and Alex Wheatle. The artwork on the front cover is by birth mother, Lynne Byron, and inspired by her experience of relinquishing her baby to adoption.

Something that never went away is an important, informative and thought-provoking book for birth relatives, adopted adults, adults who have grown up in care, adoptive relatives and professionals providing adoption support and an access to in care or adoption records service.

Something that never went away was launched at the AAA-NORCAP fundraising lunch at the House of Commons on 30 November 2009. The event was chaired by the journalist and adopted adult, Kate Adie OBE and included a poetry reading by Lemn Sissay, poet in residence at the South Bank, who grew up in care and searched for his Ethiopian birth family as an adult. Other celebrities who attended included the writer, Alan Sillitoe, the poet, Ruth Fainlight, and the journalist and transnationally adopted adult, Hannah Pool.


Faiths, Public Policy & Civil Society: Problems, Policies, Controversies (2009), Dr Adam Dinham, Palgrave Macmillan

Using empirical data and theory, this book explores the role of faiths as public actors; their contribution to welfare services, how they help build community cohesion – and break it down – and what it means for them and for others to be involved in new modes of governance. It asks does their emphatic presence threaten the public table, or might it stimulate a new and helpful way of doing things? The very idea of faiths at the public table raises controversy: what 'faith' is and what 'faiths' are, the relationship between faiths, public policy and civil society; and questions about the role – for that matter the legitimacy – of public faith. This book brings those controversies to the surface and rethinks what faiths bring to the public sphere.


Faith in the Public Realm (2009), Dr Adam Dinham, Robert Furbey and Vivien Lowndes, Policy Press

Based on primary research, this book explores the controversies, policies and practices of 'public faith', questioning perceptions of a fixed divide between religious and secular participants in public life and challenging prevailing concepts of a monolithic 'neutral' public realm. It takes an in-depth look at the distinctiveness of faith groups' contribution, but also probes the conflicts and dilemmas that arise, assessing the role and capacity of faith groups within specific public policy contexts, including education, regeneration, housing and community cohesion.'Faith in the public realm' will be of interest to students, academics, policy-makers and practitioners in the public and voluntary sectors, and in faith communities themselves.


The Colours in Me: Writing and Poetry by Adopted Children and Young People (2008), Dr Perlita Harris, BAAF

This unique collection of poetry, prose and artwork by adopted children and young people is the first of its kind in the UK. Over eighty contributors, ranging from four to 20 years of age, describe the huge changes that adoption brings and the impact of these changes on their identity, their relationships and their understanding of the meaning of “family”. This highly original and thought provoking book is a must read not only for adopted people and their parents, but also for social workers, psychologists, teachers and anyone else seeking to understand what it is like to be adopted.


Qualitative Research and Social Change. European Contexts (2008) Edited by Pat Cox, Thomas Geisen and Roger Green, Palgrave Macmillan

Interest in the undertaking, findings and application of social research has grown in recent years, leading to debates about methodology and methods applied in social research. This book offers an original, substantive exploration of the interconnections between theories, methodologies, methods and social change in qualitative research. Qualitative research is being undertaken in challenging times and the chapters in this book contain strong arguments for the continuing worth of the contribution of qualitative research in the twenty-first century.

'This collection of excellent chapters by a group of international scholars provides much-needed examples of how research can be responsive to the demands of ever-shifting social realities.'

-Dr. Anthony Hickey, Professor of Sociology, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, North Carolina USA.

'This collection brilliantly explores social research that benefits the exploited or excluded groups it is studying. This wide-ranging work will be essential reading for all who are concerned with the social relevance of critical scholarship.'

-Professor Marcel van der Linden, Director of Research, International Institute of Social History and Amsterdam School for Social-Scientific Research, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


In search of belonging, Reflections by transracially adopted people (2006), Dr. Perlita Harris (ed), BAAF

Transracial adoption has provoked much polarised commentary, initiated heated debate and stirred up strong feelings. Yet the experience of transracially adopted people themselves remains on the margins and has rarely been given a voice.

Through a series of intensely moving testimonies, In search of belonging conveys the complexity for black and minority ethnic children of being raised by a white adoptive family. It demonstrates the lifelong impact of transracial adoption and illustrates that to view such placements in either positive or negative terms is far too simplistic. The themes of separation and loss, the search for identity and belonging permeate these accounts, but so does the power of healing and survival, happiness and hope. A wide range of experiences is described, including racism during childhood, placement disruption, visiting country or origin, reclaiming cultural heritage, searching for birth mothers, fathers and other relatives, becoming a parent, involvement with the psychiatric system and connecting with other transracial adoptees.

This highly original anthology brings together established writers, new and emerging writers and those who have never been published before. Through poetry, art, autobiography, memoir and oral testimony over 50 transracially adopted people tell it like it was, and is, for them. The contributors range in age from six to 56 years and were born and adopted both in the UK and countries as different as Kenya and Hong Kong, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and El Salvador.

As well as a Foreword by acclaimed poet Lemn Sissay, the book includes a substantial introduction and a comprehensive resource section.

In search of belonging is for all transracially adopted young people and adults. It will also be of interest to other adoptees, birth relatives, adoptive parents, prospective adoptive parents, social workers, social work students, family placement workers, counsellors, therapists, mental health and other professionals.


Bloody Sunday Trauma, Pain and Politics (2005), Dr Patrick Joseph Hayes & Professor Jim Campbell, Pluto Press

Of all the grave crises in Northern Ireland's history, the events of Bloody Sunday are perhaps the most notorious. The subject of an independent inquiry that is the longest and most expensive the British government has ever undertaken, this yet to be resolved issue continues to be one of the most significant events in the recent history of the Troubles. This book tackles the subject from a new angle that covers both the political and psychological aspects of what happened. Based on extensive interviews with families whose relatives were killed by British soldiers, it is a record of the trauma that they have suffered. Setting Bloody Sunday in social, political and historical contexts, the authors examine the events of the day itself, the aftermath, and the relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder, grief, mourning and storytelling. They conclude with accounts about state and community responses to the trauma, and the impact and implications of the Saville Inquiry, which has allowed family members to express publicly their stories about the events of Bloody Sunday.


The Troubled Mind of Northern Ireland (2004), Professor Jim Campbell & Dr. Raman Kapur, KARNAC

The "Troubles" in Northern Ireland have endured for so long that eventually the abnormal has become normal. This volume examines the processes by which society has become gradually dehumanised, and how the inhuman conditions, under which people have been forced to live so long, have come about. The authors seek to understand this situation and build upon the current literature, using their different personal and professional backgrounds to great effect to create a wider perspective. They describe the political background, the framework of Kleinian psychoanalysis, and then bring the two together to create a new foundation from which to move from a troubled mind to a mind at peace.


Constructing Lived Experiences (2001), Dr Claudia Bernard, Ashgate

This ground-breaking text examines the intersections of race and gender in framing black mothers' emotional and behavioural responses to the sexual abuse of their children. Based on research with non-abusing black mothers, the effects of the abuse on mothers' parenting are posited to analyze the particular ways their mothering roles are impacted in the aftermath of abuse. It presents a black feminist investigation to critically evaluate the complexities for mothers. Developing a paradigm that is grounded in an understanding of gendered power relationships within black families, the book explores the implications for black mothers' help-seeking and protective strategies. Arguing that children's safety and long-term emotional needs can be enhanced by effective intervention with non-abusing mothers, the identification of risk situations for black children is discussed. This book offers a new perspective and expands our understanding of the effects of child sexual abuse in black families.