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Jo SimesterResearch project: Personal and social factors in taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle (in particular seeking a healthier weight), using Identity Structure Analysis.
Supervisors: Dr Gella RichardsDr Leigh Gibson

Professional background
After teaching art for several years in comprehensive schools in the English midlands, followed by some small business experience and training in counselling and in using art as a counselling medium, I joined the management team of a large London hostel for overseas students.

This fascinating encounter with the intricacies of intercultural relationships gave a valuable grounding to a decade with Quaker Peace and Service and Save the Children Fund UK in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in the rehabilitation sector.

My first research with Ulster University, using Identity Structure Analysis (ISA) under the supervision of Prof Peter Weinrech, clearly indicated that the causes of tension between humanitarian aid workers and their indigenous counterparts had roots in their different cultural values and experiences, compounded by the prevailing socio-political conflict. The analysis illuminated the influence of individual participants’ biographical experiences on their identity processes, their relationships with colleagues and significant others, and their ability to operate comfortably in different situations.

I now coordinate the London group of professionals and academics interested in using ISA, and we meet several times a year. We have a Facebook group ‘identityresearch’.
I shall be using ISA in my current study of people seeking to be a healthier weight and, most importantly, the entities (individuals, groups and institutions) which hinder or facilitate, and the core values which enable perseverance and success, in order to support long-term change.

Besides my studies, I teach two sessions of yoga a week in my community, and am also involved in our local neighbourhood planning. I am closely involved with three charities which promote community / intercultural understanding, at local, national and international levels.