Lucie is a Professor of Child and Family Social Work at the University of Oxford’s Department of Social Policy and Intervention. As an undergraduate, Lucie studied Classics at the University of Cambridge. She then undertook an MSc Applied Social Studies and Diploma in Social Work at the University of Oxford, where she completed a thesis in child poverty and child well-being in South Africa, followed by an MSc Social Policy, in which she researched the psychological well-being of AIDS orphans in South Africa. In 2007 she completed her DPhil in Social Policy and Intervention.
She works with various governmental and non-governmental organisations to provide evidence that can improve the lives of children and adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her work provides a clear example of how academia can be bridged into practice, with her research informing international and national policy-making and the creation of intervention programmes to prevent child violence.
As co-lead of the Parenting for Lifelong Health (PLH) Initiative, Lucie provides evidence-based child violence prevention programmes for lower-middle income countries. The PLH team has developed and tested programmes in randomised controlled trials in Southern Africa, Eastern Europe, the Philippines and Thailand, which are now being scaled up in 25 countries.
PLH’s implementation partners are many and examples include Clowns Without Borders South Africa, UNICEF, The Keiskamma Trust, and the Children’s Early Intervention Trust (Wales).
Roles within the project include Co-Lead, Steering Committee Member, Research Director, Senior Research Project Manager, Technical Programme Specialist, Research Assistant, Digital Project Manager
The interns interviewed Dr Jamie M. Lachman who works with Lucie Cluver. Here are some extracts:
Jamie is a Research Officer at the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention at the University of Oxford https://www.spi.ox.ac.uk/people/dr-jamie-lachman. He has over 16 years’ worth of experience developing, implementing and evaluating social interventions for vulnerable children and their caregivers in low- and middle-income countries. His professional experience includes being a Co-Founder of the Parenting for Lifelong Health Initiative (PLH), for which he now holds a position on the Steering Committee, and being the Founder of Clowns Without Borders South Africa, which aims to improve the psychosocial wellbeing of children and communities affected by crisis. He also holds a degree from the Dell’Arte International School for Physical Theatre.
What steps did you take between your undergraduate studies and MSc to develop an interest in public health and policy, and what were your first experiences in the field?
My career path was not straightforward. I worked as an actor and drama teacher in NYC and California for a number of years before starting Clowns Without Borders South Africa. Most of our work focused on providing psychosocial support to children affected by HIV/AIDS, poverty, and violence in Southern Africa though we also did some work around humanitarian relief further afield.
What motivated you to found Clowns Without Borders South Africa and how do you think your background in theatre has informed your work on public health and policy?
It was a desire to have an impact on the lives of children and families in my home country of South Africa that I left at an early age due to the Apartheid regime. I was trained as a physical theatre creator and clown so CWBSA was a great way of bringing together humanitarian community-based work and the arts. My background in theatre has taught me to consider the audience (i.e., beneficiaries) as the most important aspect of the work and to continually look for ways to improve what we do using innovative approaches.
Creating theatre is an iterative process very similar to evidence-based research and policymaking that is grounded in participatory and collaborative approaches whether it is working with government agencies or community-based organisations.
What does your role on the PLH programme entail and do you see the academic work you do for projects, such as RISE, having a real-world impact?
I am a co-developer and co-founder of the PLH initiative which is focused on developing, testing, and taking to scale a suite of open-source parenting programmes and resources in low- and middle-income countries. My academic work is very much committed to supporting a global parenting strategy that aims at reducing violence against children and supporting child wellbeing with interventions that are adaptive, evidence-based, cost-effective, and scalable. This means using the most rigorous methods of establishing real-world evidence like factorial experiments and randomised controlled trials as well as making sure that the research is applicable to policymakers, implementing agencies, practitioners, and families.
What advice would you give to students and young professionals who are considering pursuing careers in public health and policy?
It is very important to get real world experience in the field as well as the necessary academic skills to conduct rigorous research. I also think that collaboration is critical to success. Academia can sometimes seem hyper competitive but the more one learns to share and work together within one’s own field and across fields the better.
Are there any skills, roles or areas of expertise you think there needs to be more of in public health and policy?
We need to do better at knowledge transfer and making research more accessible to policymakers in public health.