My secondment at the Anna Freud Centre in London

By Hidde van der Meulen
Friday, 16th March 2018
Filed under: ESRBlog

During this secondment I will continue my work on user studies in the context of games for mental health and engage in collaborative work with other TEAM researchers in London.

Both excited and slightly anxious about the move to a new work location I embraced it as a challenge. Finding my way around a new city, getting to know new people and figuring out where to live and -maybe more important- where not to live. Fortunately, I managed to overcome the first big challenge after some attempts. I found a nice and affordable place to live for the duration of my secondment, accompanied by a flatmate and a cat. Pretty lucky I guess, given all the horror stories of housing in London.

Next up, the paperwork (always fun, I know). Since I will be working on research with children, I needed to obtain police certificates of good conduct from the countries that I have lived in. It took some days sending forms back and forth after which it was a matter of waiting to receive the confirmations that I then could hand in at the Anna Freud Centre along with more freshly filled out forms. Regarding the national bureaucracy I feel lucky to start the secondment before the Brexit. Entering the country, signing the work contract and obtaining the tenancy agreement went flawless. In contrast, opening a local bank account still is an ongoing struggle because of the strict document requirements. I have tried proving my address at multiple banks with multiple documents such as the tenancy agreement but the banks refused. Showing a recent gas bill on the address I just moved to, or a U.K. driver’s license, or perhaps a mortgage statement? This obviously isn’t going to work for me. It reminds me of the bureaucratic deadlocks that I faced when I started in Dublin. Where I needed a bank account to set up my utilities but could only open an account using utility bills proving my address. I can laugh about it afterwards. Perhaps I should just skip opening a U.K bank account and walk around with a bag of cash.

Finding my way around the new city (and back home) has been easier than expected. I have to admit that I have become a very frequent user of Google Maps and route planners but wandering through the city without really checking where I am going turned out great too. The anxiety of being at a new place wore off and made place for comfort and excitement about living in a big city full of life.

After I overcame the confusion of hot desking at the Anna Freud Centre, I had great get-togethers with the other TEAM early stage researchers, some of which I haven’t seen for months. It is good to catch up and see the progress we all made. Additionally, we are discussing ambitious plans for the future including a rushed ethics application, co-design workshops with psychologists and children, the organization of a Digital Child Mental Health conference, a large collaborative review and the organization of a Game Jam. I am very excited to engage with all of these activities and am looking forward to the collaborations that are involved in short and long term.

Our Network Partners

  • University College Dublin
  • Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families
  • Denmark Technical University
  • Region H Psychiatry
  • Telefonica Alpha
  • ReachOut Ireland
  • Technical University Vienna
  • Medical University Vienna
  • University of Glasgow