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"We are passionate about using research to develop better and fairer ways of doing things and making sure that diverse (and often unheard) voices are at the heart of this process"

Imogen Blood

Imogen has led numerous projects for central and local government, national and local charities, and housing associations. Her research interests are wide-ranging, across housing, care, support and community. She is particularly interested in driving system change with lived and practitioner experience and effective use of data, and she enjoys collaborating with other people to achieve this. An experienced keynote speaker, facilitator and trainer with over 40 publications, she is skilled at synthesising information and drawing out the practical implications for different audiences.


Imogen started her career in frontline supported housing, statutory social work and prison drug work. She then moved into research and has over twenty years’ experience of designing, conducting and managing research studies and evaluations. She has held research posts at Bury MBC Housing, Housing Projects Advisory Service, NACRO and the University of Salford, where she set up the Making Research Count initiative to promote research into practice in partnership with the Greater Manchester authorities. Between 2005 and 2009, Imogen was Senior Consultant for Equality Works (now EW Group) – a consultancy working to promote equality and diversity through training, consultancy and research. She is a qualified social worker with a degree in Politics, Philosophy & Economics from Wadham College Oxford, and a research masters from Manchester University.


Imogen is an assessor for the Institute of Leadership and Management (Managing Equality & Diversity in Organisations, Strategic Leadership), and an associate of Research in Practice for Adults. Since 2013, she has sat on the panel of experts for Active Assisted Living – a European programme which funds innovation and technology to support positive ageing. She is a founding trustee of the Manchester Men’s Room – arts & health charity supporting men and trans people who sex work, are homeless or both.

Imogen has written and appeared in a short film about her relationship with her late father John M Hull and his sight loss.


Dr Sarah Alden
Sarah is an experienced mixed methods researcher and began her career working for the statutory and third sector as a housing and welfare specialist. She gained a PhD at the University of Sheffield which explored implementation of homelessness policy across UK Local Authorities. Prior to becoming a consultant, Sarah held research posts at the University of Leeds and University of Sheffield. Her research interests include health and wellbeing (including loneliness and social isolation, physical activity, healthy eating), housing and homelessness, social care and carers, social and digital inclusion.
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Mark Goldup
Skilled data analyst specialising in housing, care and support. He has a long history of developing models for undertaking needs assessments and developed a generic methodology that was used by around a third of local authorities under the old Supporting People regime. 
Anita Birchall
 Moved into the homelessness and support sector after a career in mental health nursing.  She has twenty years’ experience of managing supported housing and floating support.  For the last ten years she has focused person-centred services and has designed and managed a number of Housing First (HF) services including the award-winning HF for women at Threshold in East Manchester for 5 years. She now provides operational advice and mentoring to organisations wishing to redesign their services or start new ones. She has worked with Imogen on a number of HF projects.
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Gill Leng
At the homes, health, care and support interface for over 25 years, Gill has a track record in improving outcomes for people experiencing homelessness or living with mental health needs, enabling shared vision and action, securing change in policy, guidance and funding. She has worked in and with central, regional and local government and the NHS to improve outcomes from supported housing, and pan-London since 2014.
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Jean Bray
Worked for many years’ as Housing Services Manager with Anchor Trust, since which time she has worked as an Associate Consultant on many interim and strategic projects alongside being an Adviser/Assessor for the Code of Practice in sheltered housing. She has worked on a wide range of assignments across the sheltered and extra care sector, including those involving change management and has supported a number of other successful funding bids for extra care. She is also the regional chair in the North West for the Housing Learning and Improvement Network. Jean has worked for IBA on a number of projects with clients including Moat Housing, Powys CC, the Karbon Group and Anchor Hanover. 
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Sarah Roberts
Sarah is a solution-focused professional with considerable experience of health and social care commissioning in both NHS and Local Government. Has delivered commissioning functions including procurement, performance management and service improvement, system review, needs analysis and transformation.
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Paul Connery
Worked in the voluntary sector for over 13 years both managing a front-line homeless service and as a key strategic lead for homelessness across North West England, influencing service improvement and innovation alongside system and culture change to prevent and tackle homelessness
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Dianne Theakstone
Strong research background that focused on co-production methodology with disabled people and exploring how to improve disabled peoples’ access to independent living. Having just finished a PhD in Applied Social Sciences at the University of Stirling, she currently balances research on the 'Match Me' project (what works for effective allocations of adapted/accessible social housing) with work as a Service User Experiences Research Officer for the SDSS (Self-Directed Support Scotland). 
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Sarah Chalmers-Page
Twelve years’ experience in a range of settings within the NHS, including PCTs, strategic health authorities and hospital trusts. She has degrees in Psychology, Health Care Management and Health Care Economics. Specialising in quantitative analysis and modelling.
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Toni Slater
Communications professional with nearly 20 years’ experience working in magazine editorial and production, medical education, charity comms, marketing and PR. She is passionate about delivering content, online or in print, that informs, inspires and supports its strategic goal.
Mark Robinson
Founded Thinking Practice in 2010 since then he has worked with more than 60 organisations in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Canada. He was previously the Executive Director of Arts Council England, North East. He has published in academic journals on community arts, literature and well-being.
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Lorna Easterbrook
Highly experienced and accomplished qualitative researcher, policy analyst, writer, speaker, and trainer. She is adept at translating policy and people’s views into practice, including the setting up of services.
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Steve Milton
Worked in social care since 1987 as a researcher, writer, trainer, and service manager.  He has worked in the dementia field since 1995.  In 1996 he set up the Alzheimer’s Society Helpline, which he ran until 2002. Steve leads the work stream on Dementia Friendly Communities and disability rights for Innovations in Dementia. 
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Karen Kime
Recently retired from Stockport Council as a Strategy and Performance Manager. For nearly 30 years, Karen has mainly worked in adult social care in a number of roles including Community Development Worker, Best Value Officer and Project Manager. 
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Sophie Grinnell
Health Inequalities Researcher, primarily as Project Lead on a unique Health Inequalities Capacity Building Project.  The project's aim is to support decision-makers in amending their policies and strategies in order to reduce health inequalities and improve health.
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Jenny Pannell
Independent researcher with extensive publications and consultancy experience in housing, support and care. She is passionate about improving housing, care and support services for older people and for people with disabilities; and is especially interested in resident perspectives.
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Lydia Fransham
Trainer, facilitator and supervisor working in criminal justice, mental health and social work settings, specialising in attachment theory, strength-based practice, sexual offending, and domestic abuse. Lydia has been described as “an innovative, sophisticated and above all practical resource for the next generation of strengths-based offender rehabilitation practice”. 

Internal Research & Support 

Shelly Dulson
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Chloe Hands 
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Shani Wardle
Meenakshi Parmar
Joe Allen
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