Current and recent work

Literature review on how young people access money advice ( 2021)

This rapid literature review for the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) sought to help understand where and how young people look for infomation and advice around money matters, such as what types of advice on what issues young people today need; where they look, especially their use of the internet or social media; and what channels and sources were more or less effective. We were also intersted to find any evidence around impact .

This review found that despite an abundance of online ‘information’, young people are confused where best to start and how to ensure anything they read online is trustworthy. Many use generalist search terms and engines and find the sheer amount of ‘information’ confusing in itself. These challenges are compounded by the commercial interests behind much online ‘advice’ and common presumptions that all young people are ‘digital natives’ (they’re not).

The available evidence showed that most young people rely heavily on family, friends and peers for financial advice, which in turn depends on their levels of knowledge and experience.

As well as formal and ongoing education around financial matters from an early age, young people were found to need and want one-to-one guidance from an independent and knowledgeable source, to match their individual circumstances, when they needed it. In other words it can’t be presumed that all financial education can be delivered in one go at an early age, e.g. 10 or 14: young people want good advice when they hit key points in their lives, such as starting a job, taking on a tenancy, getting into debt, becoming a parent,….

Evaluation of Our Social Networks for Mencap Cymru

I conducted a process and outcome evaluation of Mencap Cymru’s pioneering project – Our Social Networks (OSN). With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, OSN collected 40 oral histories from 59 adults with learning disabilities about the importance of friendships and relationships and issues they faced meeting people, and having friendships or relationships. The narratives and key themes were shared with the public, policy makers and service providers in exhibitions, films, social media and other ways and most will be stored for posterity in the National Repository in St Fagan’s National Museum of History, in Cardiff.

Audiences found the narratives poignant, eye-opening and often distressing, but also helpful in appreciating the multiple, layered, barriers faced by people with learning disabilities in simply pursuing a human right that others can take for granted. Often a lack of mental capacity was assumed rather than properly assessed. This work exposed the need for improved trainign for staff and families; support and clear guidance; as well as improvements in service design and prioritisation. Professionals, policy makers and service providers said that although they were already aware of some of the issues, the OSN work helped them realise how commonly friendships and relationships were ignored and did not get the priority or support they deserved.

Another arm of the project employed people with learning disailities to support four museums across Wales to improve disability access and provided lots of learning points about how to make this meaningful for all concerned.

Training

Each year I design and deliver at least 8 public and bespoke training courses for the Social Research Association (SRA) on planning and conducting research and evaluation with children and young people and on involving the public in social research. Over recent years we adapted and delivered this course in-house for the ONS, Action for Children, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, Sustrans, Ipsos Mori and others.

Due to Covid-19 we converted these courses and now deliver them online .

SRA Ethical Guidance

I am joint author of the revised Social Research Association’s ethical guidance. Published and available on the SRA website.

Other

I am an approved research associate for the Department of Education, Barnardos, NCB, LEAP, the Centre for Aging Better and others