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Melanie Hani

Lecturer in Animation, Loughborough University

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Melanie Hani’s research investigates the effectiveness of the Animation process as a therapeutic, remedial and educational device for service users from statutory (health, education, social care, probationary services) and voluntary sector organisations, in particular with vulnerable, marginalised and socially excluded groups. Her work spanning 20 years has resulted in the development of a practical working model; The Good Heart Model (GHM).

Her work has been celebrated by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace for making a ‘significant contribution to local and national life’. She has won the NHS Innovation Award, and received a commendation by the Duke of Gloucester for her work with the bereaved and by Baroness Morris of Yardley for using animation to help children excluded from mainstream education. She has been awarded a Community Fellowship Award for working with children who are bereaved.

Hani has been a mentor for professionals working in participatory practice (Artworks) and has worked for such organisations as: the BBC, Redpath Productions, Tailwind Productions, Techniquest, Wrexham Arts Agency, Concept for Living. She is founder of HEART (Healing Education Animation Research Therapy), a member of the Animation Academy, ASIFA (Association Internationale du Film d'Animation) and the SAS (Society for Animation Studies). She is a member of the Bradford Animation Festival (BAF) Steering Committee.


Hani uses the Good Heart Model (Hani, 2011) to develop the distinctive role of animation to offer possible solutions to contemporary world-wide community issues. The methodology has been applied and developed with socially excluded groups and those who are marginalized or vulnerable from a heath and social care perspective. Particular production processes are exploited and given emphasis in each context with the purpose of benefitting a specific user group.

As a development from her research, Hani founded HEART (Healing Education Animation Research Therapy). HEART unites and collates a collection of experienced award winning practitioners, student practitioners and researchers who use the process and outcome of Animation, Media and the Arts in a therapeutic, educational, informative and healing way locally, nationally and internationally. HEART™ produces films and publications to educate and inform. Hani welcomes enquiries from animators and organisations interested in collaboration to raise awareness using animation or to research applied animation participatory practice.

Using the process as an active intervention to stop high-risk child sex offenders from reoffending. The process is a complex interdisciplinary procedure that is in continuing development at Loughborough University in collaboration with Professor Paul Wells and criminologist Dr Martyn Chamberlain.

Recent projects include:
  • Working in collaboration with Barnardo’s Orchard Mosaic, University of Sunderland and HEART to use the process to tackle the detrimental effects of parental imprisonment and to promote emotional well-being in the context of criminology and for social benefit.
  • Employing the animation process to tackle the negative effects experienced by Roma children in care in Eastern Europe; specifically addressing detrimental effects and physical and mental difficulties, such as detachment disorder, caused by the deprivation, discrimination and abuse.
  • Analysing the effectiveness of the animation process in addressing issues related to children with a parent who is transgender. A pilot project in collaboration with Barnardo’s Orchard Mosaic, University of Sunderland and HEART.
  • Employing the use of Animation with children who are bereaved and have special needs.

Hani follows the principle aim of HEART to disseminate, transfer and exchange knowledge of the use and effect of animation, its processes and creative aspects in a therapeutic and educational context. http://www.animationtherapy.info/

Most recently a film A Friend to Circles, developed from working with a high-risk sex offender, was premiered at Circles UK National Conference 2011 "Inside and Outside Circles; public protection on the edge and community involvement in reducing sexual reoffending." Priory Rooms, Central Birmingham - 14th October 2011. It has been included in a DVD (Red Path Productions) that has been distributed to all Circle organisations across the UK as a learning and recruitment tool, and nationally and internationally to public sector parties.

Featured publications

Hani’s project work has been extensively disseminated through visual presentation at conferences internationally in the contexts of animation studies and social practice policy.

Hani, M. (2012 April) ‘B Venture: increasing resilience in children who have a parent in prison through the use of the Good Heart Model’. Children with a Parent in Prison Conference; Impact, Issues, Practice and Policy, The Sherwell Centre, Plymouth University.

Hani, M. (2011) ‘A Friend to Circles’, Circles UK National Conference 2011 Inside and Outside Circles; public protection on the edge and community involvement in reducing sexual reoffending. Priory Rooms, Birmingham - 14th October 2011

Hani, M. (2012) ‘Strateni: Animation Therapy, employing the animation process to tackle the negative effects of being a Roma child in care in Sovakia’, VAF Viborg Animations Festival, Animated Learning, Viborg, Denmark. 2nd November 2012

Hani, M. (2011). ‘A Friend to Circles’, The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2nd-5th November 2011

Hani, M. (2011). ‘A Friend to Circles’, NOTA Northern Ireland Conference Sexual Violence: Facilitating Reintegration and Preventing Recidivism, NSPCC, Belfast, 9th November 2011

Hani, M. (2008). ‘Mediating Bereavement through the use of Animation’. The Popular Cultural Association PCA San Francisco.

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