My background involves research, policy and practice issues for children who experience challenges in their lives. My work is underpinned by a social justice perspective. My research experience has included working as a Research Fellow for the Centre for Learning in Child Protection (NSPCC/University of Edinburgh) and Barnardo's. I have also conducted research for a range of voluntary organisations on child welfare issues, prior to this I was a Children's Rights officer for children in care in England. I have a PhD in Social Policy from the University of Edinburgh. My doctoral thesis explored children's experiences of growing up with parental alcohol problems using participatory research methods as part os an ESRC Case Collaborative PhD Studentship with Barnardo's. I became increasingly interested in influencing national policy and legislation to improve children's lives.
In 2011, I joined CELCIS as a Policy Officer. CELCIS has a unique role in combining international research excellence, critical social policy analysis and delivering world-leading innovations in professional development to improve outcomes for children and young people in need of care and protection. I use my academic expertise to positively impact on social policy for the benefit of society. My key responsibilities include:
- Direct Impact on National Legislation, Policy and Guidance – I lead on the critical analysis of national legislation, policy and guidance related to social policy and child welfare. I have had a key role in the National Child Protection Review (2016-17) and have written National Statutory Guidance for the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. My role involves collaborative development of evidence-informed written and oral responses to Scottish Parliamentary Inquiries, Scottish Government, Care Inspectorate and other relevant public bodies.
- Raising our Academic Profile – Reputational enhancement of the University of Strathclyde through high-level strategic engagement with the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Government, relevant public bodies and strategic leaders across the social and political spectrum. Publications in a wide range of high quality journals, practice journals, research briefings and production of podcasts to share academic knowledge beyond university settings. Presentations at national and international conferences. Current research projects included: Lifelong Links for children and young people in care (longitudinal mixed method study with the University of Oxford and Family Rights Group, 2018-2023); evaluation of Scotland's first care experienced theatre company with the Citizens Theatre (2019-2020) and a review of the implementation of support for families where children may become looked after in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
- Knowledge Exchange Leadership – Develop innovative knowledge exchange programmes to connect research, policy and practice. Lead on design, deliver and disseminate knowledge exchange activities, including sourcing funding and overseeing budgets. For example, I initiated a successful KE bid with the University of Strathclyde, University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow and partners – Getting it Right for Looked after Disabled Children and Young People (2012-2013).
- Developing and Sustaining Research, Policy and Practice Collaborations - Lead and develop networks across the University of Strathclyde and external national and international networks to inform social policy influencing and implementation roles. Provide advice and support to colleagues on social policy related issues. Chair and participate in national and local committees, working groups, research symposiums and innovative roundtable events.