Before joining Buckinghamshire New University in 2004, I initially trained as a community/legal aid lawyer, with a focus on housing, family law, immigration and employment law. I then worked as a legal policy officer for several major NGOs, interspersed with short-term research posts at the University of Manchester, Bath and London, before being awarded an ESRC grant to undertake my PhD.
I studied for my PhD in Social Policy at the University of Bath; and hold Masters’ Degrees in Theology from the University of Cambridge; Social Policy Research from Bath; Medical Law and Ethics from KCL and an MBA focused on senior leadership in higher education from Buckinghamshire New University. My first degree was in Law and Social Anthropology from the University of London.
My specialist area of research is the field of social inclusion (with particular reference to inclusion health, access to education and training and accommodation issues), ethnicity, equalities and social justice with a specific emphasis on undertaking collaborative research with communities at risk of marginalisation, racism and ‘othering’. I have worked closely with Gypsy, Traveller and more recently migrant Roma (GTR) communities for over 30 years and in recent years have developed participatory action research programmes with vulnerable migrants, LGBT+ members of faith communities, as well as refugee and asylum seeking women and people experiencing street homelessness.
I am a member of the Social Policy Association; Gypsy Lore Society; European Academic Network of Romani Studies; Faculty of Homeless Health; National Educational Opportunity Network (Trustee); NERUPI (Widening Participation network – academic advisory board member) and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy as well as a special advisor to Rene Cassin, the Jewish Human Rights Agency.
My specialist knowledge has led me to work with a range of government departments and agencies such as the UK Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Department of Health; Equalities and Human Rights Commission as well as the European Fundamental Rights Agency and civil society agencies in the UK and internationally.
My greatest accolade to date is being honoured by having a housing association name a Gypsy and Traveller residential caravan site after me (Greenfields Way) in Weston-Super-Mare, in recognition of many years of working to provide good quality, secure, culturally-appropriate accommodation for local GTR communities, from where they can access health, education and employment opportunities.
My career highlight is the opportunity to work closely with diverse communities, civil society agencies, academic and parliamentary colleagues to support a range of social justice initiatives and ‘pay forward’ the benefits and opportunities I have received as a result of my education, age, country of origin and ethnicity.
View my Research repository.