Dr Melanie Boyce

Senior Research Fellow

Faculty:Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care

School:Education and Social Care

Location: Chelmsford

Areas of Expertise: Social Work and Social Policy

Research Supervision:Yes

Melanie Boyce is a social researcher with expertise in working with those who are often marginalised due to their health and/or social situation, with the intention of raising awareness and improving access and delivery in service provision.



Upon completion of her MSc in Social Research Methods, from London South Bank University, Melanie joined the School of Education and Social Care in 2004, as a Research Assistant and worked on a number of nationally funded projects, in the area of mental health and social inclusion. Since then she has worked on and led a number of funded research projects in the areas of domestic abuse, self-harm and prostitution. Melanie has expertise in undertaking community-based research with groups and communities that are often defined as marginalised, due to their health and/or social situation.

Research interests

  • Women with multiple and complex needs
  • Self-harm in adults
  • Peer support
  • Participatory research
  • Feminist inquiry
  • Research with marginalised groups

Over the past 15 years Melanie's research has focused on working with groups of people who are often defined as marginalised and vulnerable due to their health and/or social situation - especially in the area of adults who self-harm, domestic abuse and women with multiple and complex needs. Melanie's research centres on providing evidence that can influence the development of socially just policy and practice approaches. An emphasis within her research is on experiential ways of knowing and peer led initiatives, and the ethics and politics of undertaking research with marginalised groups. Underpinning Melanie's research is a commitment to feminist forms of inquiry and participatory methodologies that has practical and meaningful benefits for those involved.

Areas of research supervision

Current doctoral supervision includes:

Anna Dadswell: PhD ‘How young women with anxiety understand and manage their anxiety in their everyday lives’.

Beverley Gilbert: PhD ‘An Examination of peer mentoring, specifically with women who have multiple and complex needs in England’.

Eleanor Townsend: PhD VC Studentship ‘How do individuals, who have experienced mental or emotional distress, use different forms of peer support to enhance their well-being’.


Melanie teaches on the undergraduate and postgraduate qualifying Social Work courses in the areas of research methods, peer support, wellbeing, and marginalised groups. She is also a dissertation supervisor for the MA Social Work Dissertation. Additionally, Melanie regularly teaches on the University’s Doctoral Training Programme and Staff Researcher Development Programme in qualitative methods and co-production.


  • PhD ‘The role of self-harm peer support groups’ (2016), Anglia Ruskin University.
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning & Teaching (2007), Anglia Ruskin University.
  • MSc Social Research Methods (2004), London South Bank University.
  • BA Hons Sociology (1997), The University of Sheffield.

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Member of the Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN)
  • Member of Social Research Association (SRA)
  • Member of the Faculty’s Participatory Research Group (core member).

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Evaluation of outreach support for women involved in prostitution. Team: Boyce, M. & Dadswell, A. (2017-2021). Funder: women@thewell. £50,000. Principal Investigator.

An exploration into the experiences of self-harm in adults. Team: Boyce, M. (2017-2018). Funder: Anglia Ruskin University Dragon’s Den Funding. £1,500. Principal Investigator.

Engagement Strategy for a Women’s Refuge with Colchester & Tendring Women’s Refuge. Team: Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M., O’Brien, N. (2014-15). Funder: Essex Police and Crime Commission. £19,486. Co-Investigator.

Effective support for self-help / mutual aid groups (ESTEEM). Team: Munn-Giddings, C, Avis, M., Collis, S. and Boyce, M., Chaudhary, S. & Seebohm, P. (2010-14). Funder: Big Lottery. £264,866. Lead Researcher.

Caregiver’s perceptions of the value of the arts in therapeutic and clinical interventions. Team: Bungay, H., Munn-Giddings, C., Boyce, M. & Wilson, C. (2014). Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council. £23,813.

Training & Supporting Older People as Researchers. Team: Munn-Giddings, C., McVicar, A., Boyce, M. & O’Brien, N. (2009-12). Funder: Essex County Council. £66,000.

Evaluation of a pilot employment support programme. Team: Boyce, M. & Pittam, G. (2009). Funder: Remploy. £17,500. Principal Investigator.

Briefing paper on supporting people with mental health problems to stay in employment. Boyce, M. (2008). Funder: Restore. £2,500. Principal Investigator.

The Innovatory Features of User Run Organisations. Team: Munn-Giddings, C., Smith, L., Boyce, M. & Wright, S. (2006-8). Funder: Mental Health Foundation £50,000. Lead Researcher.

Social inclusion through supported employment for people with mental illness (SESAMI). Team: Secker, J., Schneider, J., Floyd, M., Boyce, M., Slade, J. & Johnson, R. (2004-6). Funder: European Social Fund. Researcher.

Selected recent publications

Boyce, M. & Munn-Giddings, C. (2020). Reflections on research with self-harm self-help groups. Social Work & Social Sciences Review. Special Issue: Research with hard to reach populations. [in press].

Boyce, M., Munn-Giddings, C. & Secker, J. (2018) “’It is a safe space’: self-harm self-help groups. Mental Health Review Journal, 23(1), pp.54-63.

Boyce, M., Bungay, H., Munn-Giddings, C. & Wilson, C. (2017). The impact of the arts in healthcare on patients and service users: A critical review. Health & Social Care in the Community, DOI: 10.1111/hsc.12502.

Munn-Giddings, C., Avis, M.,Boyce, M., Chaudhary, S. &Seebohm, P. (2017). Being a 'self-help supporter': recognising the roles that community practitioners can adopt in supporting selfhelp groups. Research, Policy & Planning, 32(2):pp.113-125.

Munn-Giddings, C., McVicar, A., Boyce, M. & O’Brien, N. (2016). Learning from older citizens’ research groups. Educational Gerontology, 42(1), 58-69.

Wilson, C., Bungay, H., Munn-Giddings, C. & Boyce, M. (2016). Healthcare professionals’ perceptions of the value and impact of the arts in healthcare settings: A critical review of the literature. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 56, 90-101.

Boyce, M. Seebohm, P., Chaudhary, S., Munn-Giddings, C. & Avis, M. (2014) Use of social media by self-help/mutual aid groups. Groupwork, 24(2), 26-44.

Seebohm, P., Chaudhary, S., Boyce, M., Elkan, R., Avis, M., Munn-Giddings, C. (2013) The contribution of self-help/mutual aid groups to mental well-being. Health & Social Care in the Community 21(4), 391:401.

Visram, N., Roberts, A., Seebohm, P., Boyce, M. & Chaudhary, S. The role of self-help groups in promoting well-being: experiences from a cancer group. Mental Health & Social Inclusion, (2012) 16(3), 139:416.

Recent presentations and conferences

Boyce, M. & Dadswell, A. (2018) ‘Undertaking ‘collaborative’ research with women involved in prostitution’. Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN) International Conference Voicing and Valuing: Daring and Doing. Edge Hill University, Manchester, UK, 25-28 October.

Boyce, M. (2017) Key Note: ‘Enabling individual and collective gains through self-help/mutual aid’. Voluntary Action Camden (VAC) Maximising Community Resilience Through Mutual Aid, London, UK, 29 September.