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Personal profile


Senior Lecturer in Social Work.

'Creativity, Health and Wellbeing' Research Lead for Creative Manchester

Member of the Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives

Course Unit Lead: 'Foundations of Research' (MA Social Work); 'Dissertation' (MA Social Work).


Before qualifying as a social worker, I worked in community mental health services, initially for a voluntary organisation and then for Manchester City Council Social Services. After studying for an MA and Diploma in Social Work at Manchester University, I worked for the Manchester Family Service Unit as a social worker for children and their families/carers. This included child protection and preventative casework; comprehensive assessments for cases in legal proceedings; direct work and play therapy with children; groupwork with service users, parents and young children; and practice teaching social work students. At this time, I also studied for a PhD in Applied Social Science at Lancaster University, looking at the social work assessment of lesbian and gay people who applied to foster or adopt children.

I also did voluntary work for Manchester Aidsline/George House Trust as a counsellor and 'buddy'/befriender, for the Albert Kennedy Trust (working with young, homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people) as a manager and social work supervisor, and was a founder member and Chair of the Northern Support Group (1994-2010) for lesbian, gay and bisexual people who were involved in fostering or adopting children. For about 3 years, I was also a registered foster carer. I now do voluntary outreach work with young men and trans people who are homeless, sex workers or both for The Men's Room (Manchester).

My first post in a university was as a part-time social work tutor for MA students at Manchester University. I then worked as a lecturer/senior lecturer in Applied Community Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, as a senior lecturer in Social Work at the University of Central Lancashire, and as a senior lecturer and then a reader in Nursing, Midwifery & Social Work at the University of Salford. I have taught qualifying and post-qualifying social work at both BA and MA levels, as well as professional doctorate and PhD students. I have also led Master's degree courses in Child Care & Family Practice, Child Care & Mental Health and Comparative Safeguarding Studies.

Research interests

LOASCA: Lgbtq+ Older Adult Social Care Assessment study:
National Institute of Health Research, School for Social Care Research (£270,000) September 2021 – August 2023 (Universities of Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol with Opening Doors London).
This cross-sectional mixed-methods study employs a multiple site case study approach to improve understanding of: A) how social care workers engage with issues of SOGI when assessing older LGBTQ+ people with care and support needs and; B) how these service users experience and receive assessments. The study is informed by an advisory group which includes older LGBTQ+ people who use social care services, service providers, and representatives from professional regulators and support organisations including Safe Ageing No Discrimination, Birmingham LGBT, Opening Doors London and Social Care Institute for Excellence.

Community, Atmosphere and Belonging: Along with Vanessa May (Sociology), Camilla Lewis (Sociology and Anthropology), Sandra Costa Santos and Nadia Bertolino (Architecture, University of Northumbria), I worked on a 2 year, Arts & Humanities Research Council funded project, "Place and Belonging: What can we learn from Claremont Court housing scheme?" This project, based at Claremont Court, an early 1960s modernist social housing development, designed by Sir Basil Spence, considered place, space, belonging, atmosphere and welfare in a mixed housing project, and worked with local residents and the Residents' Committee to consider how people felt about the atmosphere and community where they live, and what contributes to a sense of belonging and welfare in a locality. Our monograph, Home and Community: Lessons from a Modernist Housing Scheme was published by Routledge in 2018.

LGBT Parenting: I have carried out research on lesbian and gay foster care and adoption, and on LGBT parenting. I have published widely in this field, and also wrote Manchester City Council's (2007) practice guidance on assessing lesbian and gay applicants in foster care or adoption. My book, Lesbian, Gay & Queer Parenting: Families, Intimacies, Genealogies was published in the Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family & Intimate Life series in 2011, and with Janet McDermott I published a new, revised edition of Lesbian and Gay Fostering and Adoption in 2018.

Sexuality and Social Welfare: I have also written on aspects of theorizing sexuality in social work and welfare.

Child Death and Maltreatment: From 2000-2004, with Corinne May-Chahal and Jo Tomlinson, I carried out an NSPCC nationally-funded study on the relationship between child death and maltreatment. The NSPCC published our full and summary reports in 2004 (see publications).


MA Social Work:

  • 'Foundations of Research'
  • 'Dissertation'

Research Supervision:

  • MA Social Work
  • MRes
  • MPhil/PhD

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

Qualified social worker registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (SW94600). http://www.hcpc-uk.org

Member of the JUC-SWEC Research Sub-Committee https://www.juc.ac.uk/social-work-education-committee/sub-committees/research/

Member of the British Sociological Association (BSA).

Editorial board member:

Families, Relationships & Societies

Australian Social Work

Intersectionalities: A Global Journal of Social Work Analysis, Research, Polity, & Practice

Psychology & Sexuality

Methodological knowledge

I am a qualitative researcher and I have specialisms in:

  • interview-based research
  • observational and ethnographic methods (including institutional ethnography)
  • discourse analytic approaches

I am also very interested in feminist, queer, interactionist and anti-racist research approaches.

I have supervised doctoral students in the following areas:

  • transgender people and social work/welfare.
  • family mediation discourses.
  • men and domestic partner abuse.
  • children as interpreters in social work services.
  • professional identity and the approved mental health practitioner role, using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.
  • hearing parents' understandings of outcomes for Deaf children and young people.
  • ethnographic studies of: child protection services in UK/Belgium; research ethics committees and questions of capacity; and the culture of a radiography department.


PhD Applied Social Science, University of Lancaster, 1999

Diploma in Social Work, University of Manchester/CCETSW, 1993

MA (with Distinction) Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, 1993

Counselling Skills Certificate (level II), North West Regional Association of Education Authorities , 1991

BA (Hons) Music & English, University of Birmingham, 1987

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Areas of expertise

  • HM Sociology

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


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