£550,000 to improve wellbeing of people with disfigurements

Issue date: 10 February 2009

Professor Nicky Rumsey Two new avenues of help for people with disfigurements are opening up at the University of the West of England, thanks to funding for two research posts provided by the Vocational Training Charitable Trust (VTCT).

Professor Nicky Rumsey leads UWE's Centre for Appearance Research which has been awarded the grant. She said, “There is currently a tidal wave of concern to 'look good' and this puts lots of people, including those with visible disfigurements under considerable pressure, for example in schools and workplaces. We want to tackle some of the negative impacts on people created by 'beauty myths' in media and advertising.”

The money will be used in a double approach towards improving the wellbeing of people with disfigurements. One VCTC researcher will be appointed to design, implement and evaluate interventions that could meet the psychosocial needs of people with facial or other disfigurements.

The second post will work in the area of public education and attitude change, campaigning to promote a more positive climate at school and at work. Professor Rumsey has been redesignated the VTCT Professor of Appearance Psychology. The posts will be funded for five years, and are being advertised now.

Vice-Chancellor Steve West said, “This is a substantial and very welcome award from the VTCT. The funding will enable UWE's Centre for Appearance Research to carry out much needed research on the psychological effects of disfigurement, an area where it is a world leader.”

The VTCT is a leading specialist awarding body offering a wide range of vocational qualifications in beauty therapy, hairdressing, health and fitness.

Nic Robinson, Director of Business Development at VTCT said, “The hair, beauty and fitness industries are about making helping people to feel good about themselves. We are delighted to be supporting the University of the West of England to enable research that will benefit people who have to deal with issues relating to their appearance.”

The charity sought out areas of excellence in the UK capable of conducting research into disfigurement and found that UWE was the academic institution in the UK with the best record of research and knowledge exchange in the area of psychology and disfigurement. Other organisations to benefit from the funding are charities such as the Healing Foundation, Changing Faces, and services for people in developing countries.


Editor's notes

•UWE's Centre for Appearance Research is co-directed by Professor Nicky Rumsey and Dr Diana Harcourt. For more information visit

•For more information on the Vocational Training Charitable Trust visit http://www.vtct.org.uk/

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