A kitchen in Brighton, UK, 1996: Dr Angie Hart, a health inequalities researcher at a hospital is on adoption leave. She’s just grabbed a glass of water because it’s too hard to make a cup of tea whilst caring for the three children with complex needs who have just come into her life. To help her cope with the kids, she starts to read more around the concept of resilience when they’re in bed. Much of it is theoretical rather than offering her practical tips. However it still seems better to her than reading all the research on how adoptive families with her kind of kids don’t tend to work out.
A different Brighton kitchen 22 years later. One of Professor Angie Hart’s adoptive sons has calmly made her a cup of tea and helped her colleague sort out a Skype call that keeps dropping out. In the intervening years Angie has gained a therapeutic qualification and ended up being both a university resilience researcher and a community practitioner in child and adolescent mental health. Thanks to her son, Angie's colleague finally gets to chat with the Director of a charity in South Africa. They tell her that they’re excited to be using the practical, evidence-based resilience building tools that she has developed in collaboration with parents, young people, other academics and practitioners. She’s received funding from many sources for this work, including the UK research councils and local authorities, and now directs our University’s Centre of Resilience for Social Justice. The South African charity explains that they are using the tools with all schools across a large town. They say how grateful they are to Boingboing, the social enterprise that Angie set up with a colleague in 2010, for making tools and publications freely available on their website. Boingboing employs people with lived experience of complex life challenges.