Dr Alison Strang
Psychologist and Senior Research Fellow at QMU, Edinburgh
Alison Strang is a psychologist whose work addresses the needs of people affected by conflict and disaster. Since 2000, she has been involved in applied research concerning impact of humanitarian crises on the mental health psychosocial wellbeing of communities and individuals. As coordinator of the Psychosocial Working Group (an international consortium of leading humanitarian organisations and academic institutions) from 2000-2005, Alison was involved in supporting academic and practitioner partners to clarify a research agenda for the field. This experience led her to a recognition of the need for an inclusive approach to bringing together international and local actors in humanitarian crises. With colleagues from Sri Lanka, she co-founded the ‘Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network’. This network aspires to build and shape good practice in humanitarian response by providing a global platform for connecting people, networks and organizations, for sharing resources and for building knowledge related to mental health and psychosocial support in emergency settings and in situations of chronic hardship (www.mhpss.net).
In addition to engagement in the humanitarian context, Alison works in research policy and practice concerning refugee resettlement and integration. The ‘Indicators of Integration framework developed with IGHD Director Alastair Ager and published in 2008 is now used extensively in research, policy and practice around the world. She has collaborated with a wide range of refugee support organisations (including Scottish Refugee Council, British Red Cross, NHS, UK Home Office) to study refugee and communities’ experiences of resettlement and integration. Recent work has involved the development of participatory methods to map community social connections that contribute to coping and resilience. This approach has been applied in resettlement (e.g. mental health and isolation amongst single male refugees in Glasgow) and humanitarian contexts (e.g. responses to disputes resolution and gender-based violence amongst displaced Yazidi people in northern Iraq).
Alison is involved in working closely with service providers, community groups and policy makers, to develop shared learning through research collaboration. Her interests in mental health and psychosocial support and refugee integration are generally pursued through the development of participatory research methods that open up community perspectives, and contribute to the demonstration of ‘hard-to–measure’ aspects of well-being. She takes an asset-based approach to examining community and individual capacities. Recent work on the measurement of social connections combines ideas drawn from social capital theory with participatory research to create a robust measure of collective and individual assets that is both grounded in a particular context as well as comparable across contexts.
Since 2013, Alison has chaired the implementation of the Scottish refugee integration strategy, ‘New Scots’. This collaborative strategy, led by Scottish Government, Scottish Refugee Council and Scottish local authorities, involves a wide range of public sector, third sector and community stakeholders. She advises the UK Home Office on refugee integration policy and is a member of the Scottish Government special advisory group on social cohesion.
Alison is involved Phd research supervision particularly on topics concerning refugee integration, social capital and social connections.