Research projects

Research projects

SPIRU is a network which provides opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration within and beyond GCU. We bring together experienced and early career researchers and non-academic partners to improve understanding of the circumstances and challenges faced by disadvantaged communities and to evaluate interventions designed to address them.

We are concerned with all aspects of poverty and inequality but we have a particular interest in the following issues and themes:

Child poverty

We have a sustained record of investigating and contributing to policy development to reduce child poverty, particularly in Scotland. We have worked closely over many years with organisations such as the Child Poverty Action Group, Save the Children, One Parent Families Scotland and Children in Scotland to document, diagnose and remedy deprivation among households with children and to improve opportunities for young people from disadvantaged communities.

Local anti-poverty strategies

We are currently working with other national partners (the Scottish Government, Improvement Service, NHS, COSLA, Poverty Alliance and the Child Poverty Action Group) to support local authorities and health boards develop local child poverty action plans, in accordance with their duties in the 2017 Child Poverty Act. This work is central to SPIRU’s three year analytical partnership with the Scottish Government to support the Every Child, Every Chance Child Poverty Delivery Strategy 

Understanding and influencing public attitudes towards poverty and social policies: SPIRU researchers undertook a highly influential project for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which explored media coverage of and attitudes towards people experiencing poverty in the UK. This project produced briefing papers for journalists and a guide for the Society of Editors on how to portray these issues more sensitively. This work also contributed significantly to the Poverty Alliance’s ‘Stick Your Labels’ campaign, which secured pledges from the leaders of all the main political parties in Scotland not to use derogatory nor stigmatising language when discussion poverty and related issues.

Participatory and community-based research

SPIRU and its predecessor SPIU have a long track record of participatory, co-produced and community-based action research. 

Welfare reform

We have been supporting the Give Me Five campaign which has been arguing for increases to Child Benefit to reduce poverty in Scotland. This campaign was an important factor in the introduction of the new Scottish Child Payment announced in June 2019.

Other examples of our work are available in our showcase of current projects and research impact.

Current projects

SPIRU has been commissioned by the Scottish Government as part of the Every Child, Every Chance Child Poverty Delivery Strategy to support local authorities and health boards and their community planning partners to develop a local child poverty action report. This three-year analytical partnership involves working with community planning partnerships across the whole of Scotland, and the members of the national partners co-ordinating group, to help develop measures which will contribute to the ambition to eradicate child poverty in line with the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act.

As part of this commission we hosted the first national conference on local action to tackle child poverty at GCU on 11 September 2019.

Research impact

We are committed to undertaking research which makes an impact beyond academia. We do this by working with policy makers, campaign groups and community stakeholders. Our success in making a difference was reflected in our Research Impact Case Study, which was rated world class (4*) in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. As a result, the impact of our research was ranked in the top 10 in Social Policy in the UK.

SPIRU Co-Director John McKendrick (supported by some of our Common Good and Work Placement Researchers) is undertaking longitudinal research supporting GCU’s award winning Caledonian Club initiative. This project involves GCU working with schools and families across Glasgow to support the education and skills development of children and young people.