The study addresses two of the economic and societal impacts identified by Research Councils UK.

These impacts are:

1) Increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy: The project will make a contribution to knowledge and skills in relation to social work with children and young people as well as to knowledge about obstacles and opportunities in terms of communicating with vulnerable children more broadly.

2) Enhancing quality of life, health and creative output: The project will have a direct impact on those who take part in it (social workers and children), and will be of benefit to many more through the project’s knowledge exchange activities. It is likely to be welcomed throughout the UK and beyond, as those working with vulnerable children struggle to find attuned ways of communicating with them. Similarly, the innovative method and tools will be readily transferable to other research and practice projects centred on work with children.


The findings will make an important original contribution to:

  • social work policy and practice in national and international settings;
  • qualifying and post-qualifying social work education;
  • inter-professional work with vulnerable children;
  • social science knowledge.

Impact accelerator projects

Two follow-on projects are already taking forward the findings from our project; both are funded by the ESRC and partner agencies.

To find out more about the Scottish project, please check out our website and to find out more about the English project, contact Professor Gillian Ruch (

TLC Impact Workshops

Our TLC impact workshops have been designed to ensure the findings from our research make a difference in practice and contribute to the expansion of research-informed practice.

The TLC impact workshops are designed to accommodate up to 12 practitioners and meet monthly for 3 hours over a six-month period. Co-facilitated by Jess Taylor, an organisational consultant with expertise in systemic and action inquiry models and Professor Gillian Ruch, the Principal Investigator on the TLC project, the workshops are theoretically informative, experiential spaces to explore new practice skills and between the group sessions to experiment with new approaches in practice.

Two workshop series have to date been delivered and positively evaluated. You can download the evaluation report. One participant commented:

“At the beginning when I was doing assessment, I was talking to the parents and whenever I met the children, I am interviewing them rather than doing stuff with them.Now I’ve realised that I can actually play or do things with the children and actually still get information out of them …. So yes over the last 6-7 months there has been a noticeable change for me.” 

This transformative experience and revised perception of ‘what works’ in practice is testament to the power of the TLC impact workshop approach.

Are you interested in offering TLC impact workshops?

We are currently looking to deliver the TLC impact workshops to interested local authorities. It is a competitively costed offer and provides a high quality continuing professional development opportunity for all child care practitioners,  both newly qualified and with experience. For more information contact Professor Gillian Ruch.

Impact Blog

Kitbag workshops delivered in six local authorities

The BASW 80-20 Talking and Listening to Children (TLC) Kitbag campaign is supporting the take up of Kitbags as a resource for promoting and enhancing communication with children especially, and also with their families. As part of this process the University of Sussex is working in partnership with six local authorities, in the first instance, and […]

Partnering with BASW at the 8020 Conference

We partnered with BASW England at their 80/20 Campaign conference to speak about the Talking and Listening project and Kitbag. The event took place on Thursday 4th April 2019 in Birmingham. In April 2019 the Talking and Listening to Children (TLC) project joined forces with the BASW 80-20 campaign to host an event to highlight [...]