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Dr Helena King

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Professional biography

I am an interdisciplinary social scientist, working at the interface of environmental and social psychology. My expertise is around health, wellbeing and vulnerability.

My PhD explored the cultural services (psychological, social and cultural benefits) associated with an urban fringe multi-habitat site.  I was then awarded a UKRI KTP internship to work with a national charity and trade association on taking an ecosystem services (wellbeing-orientated) approach to quarry restoration.  Following this I undertook a UKRI funded post-doctoral fellowship to evaluate how cultural services are impacted by levels of biodiversity.  The concept of cultural services is inherently linked to health and wellbeing.

To gain some practical experience I spent a few years working in the charity sector- as partnerships manager for a regional hospice, and then as a senior manager within a local homeless charity. Both roles involved engaging with third/public/private sector partners to design, fund and monitor health and social care programmes for vulnerable people.  I continue this line of work now as a volunteer for the National Youth Advocacy Service.

I returned to higher education in 2017, as research project manager for the Centre for Policing Research and Learning, then gaining a lecturer post in the Department for Public Leadership and Social Enterprise in 2019.   In this current role I author module content for the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship and lead am module team lead for 'Theories and Concepts in Policing’.

Research interests

My research centres on health/wellbeing as a process of adaptation, the environmental/ psychological/ social factors influencing this, and the nature of vulnerability. My PhD used mixed qualitative methods to explore psycho-social aspects of people-nature interrelations, and embraced discourse, policy and public use to identify psychological benefits.  The post-doc role I undertook used mixed methods (workshops, survey and PPGIS) to measure the psycho-social benefits of landscapes on a spectrum of biodiversity. 

Recent research has been conducted with psychology colleagues affiliated to the Centre for Policing Research and Learning.  This includes a project funded by the Royal Foundation to review research and interventions related to UK emergency responder mental health and wellbeing, and another to develop a new victim satisfaction survey for Merseyside Police.   With funding from the Health and Wellbeing Strategic Research Area I led a study to explore the role of the charity sector in police wellbeing support.  From this I am working with stakeholders to formulate a funding proposal to investigate the phenomenon of health stigma in policing. 

Teaching interests

During my PhD and post-doc I contributed to a variety of post-graduate courses, delivering lectures on cultural services and social research methods.  Currently I generate learning materials for the PEQF policing degrees programme.  I am lead author for units on vulnerability and public protection (year 1) and coaching and mentoring (year 3), and contributing author to curriculum on wellbeing.   Please see Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship for further info. I have a special interest in audio/visual teaching methods and draw on personal interests in sound editing and producing/directing to create bespoke on-location recorded learing materials.  

In addition to teaching I am module team chair for the first year (live) academic study component of the PCDA.  This involves providing overall leadership to the team, keeping module materials up-to-date, monitoring student experience, overseeing quality assurance processes, and ensuring the smooth running of the module.   



The importance of landscape characteristics for the delivery of cultural ecosystem services (2018-01-15)
Ridding, Lucy E; Redhead, John W; Oliver, Tom H; Schmucki, Reto; McGinlay, James; Graves, Anil R; Morris, Joe; Bradbury, Richard B; King, Helen and Bullock, James M
Journal of Environmental Management, 206 (pp. 1145-1154)

Biodiversity and cultural ecosystem benefits in lowland landscapes in southern England (2017-11)
King, Helen; Morris, Joe; Graves, Anil; Bradbury, Richard B.; McGinlay, James and Bullock, James M.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, 53 (185 - 197)

Emergency Responders Mental Health & Wellbeing Project (2020)
Sharp, Marie-Louise; Harrison, Virginia; Soloman, Noa; King, Helen; Fear, Nicola and Pike, Graham
In : Emergency Responders Research Symposium: Mental Health & Wellbeing (30 Jan 2020, London)

Exploring charity sector wellbeing support for police (2019-09-10)
King, Helen; Harrison, Virginia and Pike, Graham
In : 2019 Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference: A civil society for the future: setting the agenda for the voluntary sector and volunteering research in the 2020s (10-11 Sep 2019, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)

Assessing the mental health and wellbeing of the Emergency Responder community in the UK (2020-06)
Sharp, Marie-Louise; Harrison, Virginia; Solomon, Noa; Fear, Nicola; King, Helen and Pike, Graham
Open University and Kings College London, London.

A glimpse into the realm of police wellbeing charities (2020-01)
King, Helen; Harrison, Virginia and Pike, Graham
The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.