Current work

The links between Childhood Sexual Abuse and substance misuse

Over 2019-20 I evaluated a training and service development programme, based on the proven links between being sexaully abused as a child (CSA) and developing mental health difficulties and /or issues around drugs and/or alcohol later in life. Designed by the Centre of Expertise on Childhood Sexual Abuse, and based on substantial research, this programme aimed to improve practice by encouraging practitioners to routinely ask service users if they had been abused as children. Research shows that people want, and wait, to be asked, possibly because of shame and /or taboo, but that this is a key step to tackling mental health and substance issues. Unfortunately, and as emerged in this evaluation, practitioners often feel awkward asking about CSA. Moroever, although they believe they are asking, they instead wait for people to volunteer this information. My report is due in the autumn

Early help and intervention – literature review for Action for Children

Along with Dr Louca-Mai Brady, I am conducting a rapid literature review to explore the evidence around early help, and gaps in same, and its reported merits. Once top of the policy agenda (eg Every Child Matters, 2003; Munro, 2011; Allen, 2011; Marmoth, 2010 and 2020 ), especially as a means to address inequalities and negative outcomes for children and young people, lately this issue has been demoted politically. That said, this review illustrated the challenges in evidencing outcomes and impact in this field.

Community Volunteers – Literature Review for NSPCC

Along with Dr Louca-Mai Brady, I am currently conducting a rapid literature review for the NSPCC, around the use and impact of community volunteers to support vulnerable families. 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 oucomes and impact volunteers are experinced by families, children and volunteers.

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 in achieving this basic human right. Another arm of OSN is supporting four museums across Wales to improve their disability access, especially for people with learning disabilities. OSN has employed 4 people with learning disabilities to lead on this work.  

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 behaviour that challenges. It builds on a ‘positive behavioural support model‘ developed by the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, Kent University and others. My evaluation supported the development of this complex project since 2018. The keen collaboration between several CCG and NHS departments, family carers, learning disability charities, universities and others was heartening, helped overcome several challenges and demonstrated the effectiveness of a multidimensional approach to early intervention and positive behaviour support. Read more about the project here and download the full report here.

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 involvement. Over recent years we adapted and delivered this course in-house to ONS, Action for Children, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, Sustrans and Ipsos Mori. Over 2020 we are converting this to an online course.

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