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SPAN Research

SPAN Research

Single Parent Action Network (SPAN) is currently involved in a number of research projects where we work in partnership with other organisations. In all projects, we ensure that single parents have an opportunity to participate and get their voice heard. For more information about past research projects and their findings, please have a look at our publications and policy papers.


Protecting the right and life chances of one parent families on job seeking benefits
At SPAN we are concerned about the negative impact of sanctions (where someone loses some of their benefits for an amount of time) on single parents and their children. We are therefore undertaking a project with Oxfam UK to improve the sanctions process for single parents.

SPAN is concerned that single parents can be more vulnerable to receiving sanctions because of their sometimes unrealistic Jobseeker's Agreements (or Claimant Commitment). As part of this project, we surveyed 40 single parents about the contents of their Jobseeker's Agreements and have found an inconsistency in the expectations put on single parents (even with primary aged children) in terms of the hours they are expected to work and the journey times for work.

SPAN will lobby for single parents to have fair and achievable Jobseeker's Agreements and Claimant Commitments and push for these to be written to reflect 'lone parent flexibilities' and the protection of the wellbeing of their children. SPAN are also contributing to the Independent Review of the Sanctions to press for a fairer and more transparent system. Evidence is drawn from our survey of single parents and their Jobseeker's Agreements.

In 2014 SPAN interviewed more single parents about their experiences of sanctions including the reasons why sanctions were imposed. SPAN will push for the need for clearer figures being kept about sanctions to make sure that single parents are not being sanctioned for their caring responsibilities.

Productive Margins

Productive Margins is a collaborative project involving community organisations, Bristol University and Cardiff University. This new and exciting programme of research asked:

  • What would happen if diverse communities and academics came together to re-shape engagement and to work creatively with ideas that touch on society, law, history and art?
  • Can research release the creativity, knowledge and passions of communities at the margins of power to co-produce new forms of engagement and decision-making?


The project had three main themes:

  • Mobilising neighbourhoods: understanding how neighbourhoods can become bridges to engagement with regulators, policy-makers and business.
  • Harnessing digital space: experimenting with websites and social media to create on-line opportunities for communities to access expertise and develop new skills to engage in policy-making and politics.
  • Spaces for dissent: identifying how new understandings and ways of working emerge when communities resist authority; exploring if and how these practices create new forms of engagement.


More information about Productive Margins.

Know your Bristol

Know your Bristol, a partnership between the University of Bristol and Bristol City Council, aimed to enable people to explore local history and culture through the eyes of the community. Through a series of events, co-designed with local community groups, memories of neighbourhoods and places of special importance were captured.

Members of the public were invited to bring their own stories about each area, including family history and memories of the location. SPAN was a community partner on this project and our participation focussed on women's history around work and home in inner-city Bristol. Part of the output of the project was a film made by project participants.

Know your Bristol.

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