Current work

Substance Misuse and Child Sexual Abuse

Over 2019-20 I evaluated a project based on substantial research, which shows the strong links between someone being sexually abused as a child and developing mental health difficulties and /or issues around drug or alcohol later in life. Research also shows that people want, and wait, to be asked, possibly because of shame and taboo. This project aims to translate that research into practice and improve services. Developed by the Centre of Expertise on Childhood Sexual Abuse, it aimed to encourage practitioners to ask service users if they had been abused as children and then ensure they got relevant support. An interesting observation emerged: although professionals often believed they were asking about childhood sexual abuse, in fact they were reluctant to do so and instead waited for people to volunteer this information.

NSPCC Community Volunteers -Literature Review

Along with Dr Louca-Mai Brady, I am currently conducting a rapid literature review for the NSPCC, around the use of volunteers to support vulnerable families in the UK. This explores the relevant processes and issues around volunteer recruitment , matching with families, supervision, support and quality control, as well as the evidence on what impact volunteers have on the parents and children supported.

Our Social Networks – Mencap

I am conducting a process and outcome evaluation of Mencap Cymru’s pioneering project – Our Social Networks (OSN), funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Through sharing first person narratives, OSN aims to enhance understanding of the importance of friendships and relationships for people with learning disabilities and the barriers they face. Another arm of OSN is supporting four museums in Wales to become more accessible for disabled people, especially people with learning disabilities.  

Cumbria Early Intervention Project

This is an innovative, multi-sector and multi-agency early intervention programme for children and young people with severe learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. It builds on a ‘positive behavioural support model‘ developed by the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, Kent University and others. My mainly formative and process evaluation has supported the development of this complex project since 2018.

Training

Each year I design and deliver at least 6 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 involvement. Over recent years we adapted and delivered this course in-house to Action for Children, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, Sustrans and Ipsos Mori.

SRA Ethical Guidance

I am in a working group re-writing the Social Research Association’s ethical guidance. This is due out in late 2020 and will be published on the SRA website.

Other

I am a research associate for the Department of Education, Barnardos, NCB, LEAP, the Centre for Aging Better, the Family and Childcare Trust and others