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Annual conference

PPP Conference 2024

People, Space and Belonging


12 June 2024 | Sheffield Hallam University

PPP Conference 2024

People, Space and Belonging


12 June 2024 | Sheffield Hallam University

About the conference

The People, Place and Policy (PPP) Annual Conference will take place on 12 June 2024. In its 11th year, the conference will be hosted in Sheffield by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University.

The conference brings together researchers, policy makers and practitioners for a one-day event that showcases emerging research related to contemporary debates within all aspects of social policy. This includes a focus on a wide range of social concerns, including – economic development and labour markets, poverty, the welfare state, the voluntary and community sector, social exclusion, housing, sustainability, transport, health and social care, energy and environment.

Keynote session

This year we will open the conference with a Keynote Panel Discussion on People, Space and Belonging, featuring speakers from research and practice.  

We are pleased to announce our panel members are:

  • Dr Eleanor Jupp, Reader in Social Policy at the University of Kent.
  • Dr Jeni Vine, Research and Development Manager at Belong – The Cohesion and Integration Network.
  • Dr Francis Awolowo, Senior Lecturer in Financial & Management Accounting at Sheffield Hallam University.

Conference format and abstracts

The conference format will comprise keynote speeches, audience Q&A and debate, as well as parallel chaired paper presentation sessions. For this year’s conference submissions have been categorised under three strands/themes:  

  • Access, equity and justice
  • Experiences of belonging, identity and citizenship
  • The governance of transformative change


Delegate fees are currently at the early bird rate of £50 until 12 April 2024, but following that date the rate goes to £75. Student fee is £30. Delegate fee includes lunch and refreshments during the day.

Bookings will close on the 11 June 2024 at 12pm.


This is an interactive programme – please note that each item is collapsible which will reveal paper details (abstract and biography information will be available nearer to the conference). A PDF version is also available.

Download programme (PDF, 807 KB)

Download speaker abstracts & biographies (PDF 882 KB)

Eleanor Jupp (University of Kent)


Eleanor Jupp combines social policy and urban social geography, with particular interests in community, neighbourhoods and families. She has worked in the voluntary sector and as a policy advisor before entering academia. Her current research focuses on modes of collective action and citizenship within disadvantaged urban communities, including activism, community action and experiments in collective provisioning and sharing. Theoretically she works with frameworks of emotions, embodiment, affect and care, as well as gender and feminist theory. Her recent monograph, entitled Care, Crisis and Activism ( Bristol University Press, 2022) draws together research on austerity, everyday lives and community action from the past ten years. From 2021-2023 she held an ISRF Political Economy Fellowship for a project entitled Gifting and sharing in times of crisis: new infrastructures of solidarity between strangers?

Jeni Vine (Belong – The Cohesion and Integration Network)


Dr Jeni Vine is the Research and Development Manager at Belong – the cohesion and integration network. She is responsible for all Belong’s research work and leads on consultancy, evaluation, impact assessment training and resource development for members and wider network. Her current focus is delving into the substantial archive built up by the charity Spirit of 2012 to add to learning about the Power of Events to support social cohesion and resilience for the future. This research will be developed into a learning resource similar to the toolkits on the Power of Connection through volunteering and the Power of Sport to build social cohesion. Jeni brings over 25 years’ experience working in the not-for-profit sector and also convenes the Health Stream of Sanctuary and the Sheffield Cohesion Advisory Group.

Dr Francis Awolowo (Sheffield Hallam University)


Dr Ifedapo Francis Awolowo is a Senior Lecturer in Financial and Management Accounting at Sheffield Hallam University He is the programme lead and Principal Investigator (PI) on the Accomplished Study Programme in Research Excellence (ASPIRE), an OFS/UKRI-funded project led by Sheffield Hallam University in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University and Advance HE. His research area are counter fraud and forensic accounting, degree awarding and progression gap and anti – racist pedagogy.

Paper 1: Spaces of equality: Exploring the role of universal healthcare for social trust and the support for redistribution

Tobias Schillings (University of Oxford)


This paper explores the association between universal healthcare and social trust by conceptualising universal social policies as ‘spaces of equality’ that shape citizens’ relationships both vertically with the state and horizontally with society. By using healthcare as a case study of wider universal welfare programmes, it contributes to a growing literature on the macro-social impacts of universal social policies and the political economy of welfare expansion. By relying on the novel Healthcare Universalism Index (Schillings and Sánchez-Ancochea 2023) to measure varieties of universal healthcare provision across the world, and on data from the World Values Survey (WVS) and the European Values Study (EVS), the theorised relationship is tested across a global sample of 105 countries from 2000 to 2020. Tying into wider debates on the political economy of social policy expansion, the paper further extends the analysis to investigate the interaction between universal healthcare and trust in shaping political preferences for redistribution.

The results establish a strong association between universal healthcare and social trust both between countries and over time, with levels of trust increasing in the coverage, quality, and equity of healthcare provision. Importantly, the paper finds a strongly negative relationship between levels of trust and the degree of privatization – raising concerns over increasing trends of marketisation and the declining role of the state in healthcare provision. Finally, the analysis highlights that a combination of improvements in universal healthcare and trust is necessary to strengthen support for redistributive policies. With the precondition of trust, universalism has a significantly positive relationship with individuals’ preferences for redistribution. As such, the study finds evidence for the hypothesis of ‘virtuous cycles of universalism’ whereby universal policies can strengthen trust by creating ‘spaces of equality’ which, in turn, can foster cross-class coalitions to support redistribution.


Tobias is a doctoral candidate at the Oxford Department of International Development. His research examines the political economy of universal healthcare in the Global South. By analysing cross-national variation in welfare provision across the globe, he explores the political and economic determinants and consequences of universal welfare policies – with a focus on differences between the Global South and the Global North. Specifically, he is interested in the role of universalism in reducing inequality and strengthening social cohesion, as well as the role of different enabling political conditions for building truly universal welfare systems.

Outside of his academic research, he has consulted for a variety of international organisations, including UNDP, UNCDF, Chatham House, the UK Department of International Development, and the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Tobias holds an MPhil in Economics from the University of Oxford and a BSc in Economics from the University of Münster.

Paper 2: Mesothelioma caused by asbestos in UK schools and hospitals: an ongoing public health risk

Bethany Taylor, Peter Allmark and Angela Tod (University of Sheffield)


Asbestos is the UK’s number one cause of work-related deaths. Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer and is caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos. On average, 2500 people die of mesothelioma each year in Great Britain. The historical use of asbestos in industries such as construction, asbestos mining and dockyards means that incidence of mesothelioma has typically been higher in men and in certain occupational groups. However, exposure to asbestos in UK buildings means that the patient profile is changing. Asbestos remains present in 94% of hospital trusts in England and 80% of UK state schools. In 2022, the UK government rejected recommendations to remove asbestos from public buildings.


I am a Research Fellow based at the Mesothelioma UK Research Centre, University of Sheffield. Since 2016, I been conducting research aiming to explore and improve the experiences of mesothelioma patients and their families. I have an interest in seeking to understand the experiences of people with mesothelioma following exposure to asbestos in non-traditional environments, such as public buildings including schools. My research seeks to learn from the experiences of patients, family members and health professionals to improve understanding of asbestos risk and to shape service provision, care delivery and policy. Alongside expertise in mesothelioma patient experience, my research portfolio encompasses issues surrounding public health, health inequalities and informal caregiving. I have a particular interest in communication in health care settings and equitable access to services and treatments. Methodologically, my expertise lies in qualitative and mixed methods research and employing creative and participatory approaches.

Paper 3: Understanding the persistence of value problems in third sector delivery of health services: evidence from the implementation of ‘Green Social Prescribing’ in the English NHS

Chris Dayson and Cathy Harris (Sheffield Hallam University)


This paper seeks to understand the challenges experienced by third sector organisations providing health related public services. Even though numerous policy reforms since the 1990s have sought to increase third sector involvement in the provision of health services (Wistow et al, 1994; Osborne, 1997 and 1998) many third sector organisations still struggle to access funding to support their work and experience persistent challenges with the sustainability of their provision (Dayson et al, 2023; Milbourne & Cushman, 2015). Drawing on qualitative data (n=137 interviews) from a large national study of efforts to embed green social prescribing (GSP) in the English NHS, we argue that uncertainty about funding for the third sector is the primary factor holding back its growth and development. To explain this challenge, we identify three types of co-ordination problem linked to the ontology and epistemology of value (Beckert, 2009) as major barriers.


Chris is Professor of Voluntary Action, Health and Wellbeing at SHU. He is a leading international expert on the topic of social prescribing and part of the National Academy for Social Prescribing’s International Evidence Collaborative. Within CRESR and AWRC Chris leads a portfolio of research projects for funders including the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). His work is proven to have had an impact on local, national and international policy and practice.

Paper 1: Changing Places: Abandonment, Invasion and Community Development at a Regenerating/Degenerating London Council Estate
Paul Watt (London School of Economics)


This paper examines how the seemingly interminable process of regeneration has affected residents’ changing sense of place belonging, with reference to ethnographic research undertaken at the Carpenters council estate in the east London borough of Newham. As Watt (2021) argues, estate regeneration involving demolition and rebuilding is not a smooth progressive process for residents, but is instead characterised by profound disruptions and losses which can be conceptualised as ‘degeneration’. This paper focuses upon the period before and after the council-organised ballot held in December 2021 at which a majority of residents (and ex-residents) voted in favour of partial refurbishment plus the demolition of over half the estate. Drawing upon participant observation and in-depth interviews with over 40 residents, plus interviews with officials, the paper focuses upon three aspects of residents’ changing sense of place which reflect the ongoing regeneration/degeneration dialectic. The first aspect – abandonment – refers to how many residents considered the estate to have been effectively abandoned by the council in relation to its deteriorating physical appearance involving looking increasingly dirty and uncared for. The second aspect – invasion – refers to how during the post-Olympics’ period, the estate has become one of the main thoroughfares for West Ham United fans in gaining access to their new ground at the London Stadium. For many Carpenters residents – and especially for women from BAME backgrounds – the presence of thousands of football fans on match days is disruptive and intimidating as they publicly urinate around the estate, which also reinforces residents’ sense of abandonment. By contrast to such degenerative processes, the third aspect of changing place belonging – community development – refers to how Newham Council has established a community centre in the estate which puts on numerous social activities. For some female residents, such community development activities have brought ‘life back’ to the estate, while for others such activities have dubious significance relative to their overall sense of estate abandonment and stalled regeneration progress.


Paul Watt is Visiting Professor in the Department of Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science. He has published widely on social housing, urban regeneration, homelessness, housing activism, gentrification, and the 2012 London Olympic Games. His most recent book is Estate Regeneration and Its Discontents: Public Housing, Place and Inequality in London (Policy Press, 2021). Paul is an Editorial Board member of City.

Paper 2: The Dynamics of Belonging in UK Park Home Communities
Robert Amato Lastman (Kingston University London)


Park homes for some residents in their later life has become a suitable alternative while it sits on the periphery of the city. This is a small niche sector of the UK housing market and yet for many a low-cost alternative and an increasing lifestyle choice for a growing elderly population. There are approximately a quarter of a million people that live in two thousand licensed park sites. The majority of which are in the southern part of England.

This dwindling supply leads many of the residents to opt for park homes type of housing, also for its community experience of living with similar minded residents. For some of the park home residents they view their way of living as a choice, which provides them with a sense of community.

Apart from the stereotypical stigma associated with park homes, studies indicate a more complex picture, including positive experiences by the park home residents. This study will present challenges and opportunities with analysis from online survey responses and semi-structured interviews from park home residents and site owners in the UK. It will include the understanding of belonging in this type of accommodation provision and its long-term viability option when it comes to the future of housing. The residents’ experiences offer valuable insight into park home communities when the general population is desperate for affordable and suitable accommodation.


Robert Amato Lastman developed an interest in addressing the housing crisis through independent research and projects for organisations like Generation Rent. Currently he is a part-time PhD student at Kingston University focusing on UK park home communities and what can we learn from them including their role as a viable alternative housing option. As a researcher, he visited the University of North Carolina to learn about US housing studies. Robert has presented his findings at conferences and conducted a seminar on UK housing and park homes at Malmö University in Sweden.

Robert is in the process of carrying out field research interviewing park home site owners and residents.

He works full-time managing short courses at City, University of London’s Research and Enterprise office.

Earlier studies include an MA in Sociology from the University of Central Missouri (UCM) and an MA in International Studies from Leeds University.

Paper 1: Falling behind on payments for household bills: Exploring temporal trends in the extent to which UK individuals have experienced this form of debt since 2009 and the characteristics of indebted individuals over time

Maya Middleton-Welch and Mark Green (University of Liverpool)


This research explores populations who have fallen behind on payments for household bills between 2009 and 2021. Falling behind on household bill payments is a particularly harmful form of debt (Salter, 2014) and can affect the ability of individuals to access necessities such as housing and energy (Lane et al., 2018).

This study investigates how the total number and percentage of UK individuals who have been affected by this form of indebtedness has varied over time and space. It also explores how the likelihood of a person belonging to a household that was behind on household bills has varied across different demographic and socioeconomic groups over time. The drivers of trends observed are also explored. The analysis involves the utilisation of descriptive analysis techniques and longitudinal regression methods.

This research furthers understanding of social inequalities within the UK. It is hoped that this analysis will be beneficial for debt-advice charities in understanding which communities are affected by this debt and may need support. It is also hoped that this analysis will be beneficial to policy makers in understanding the extent to which this form of debt has been prevalent in the UK over time.

Lane, J., McCay, B., & Thorne, M. (2018). Hidden Debts The growing problem of being behind on bills and in debt to the government Citizens Advice.

Salter, J. (2014). The Borrowers Demos.


Maya Middleton-Welch is a Data Analytics & Society PhD student. She is based in the Geographic Data Science Lab at the University of Liverpool. She is researching how the incidence of people living in households which are behind on bill payments has varied over space and time in the UK alongside the drivers of these trends.

Paper 2: Building the case for tailored employment support for second earners in households claiming Universal Credit: Reflections from the evaluation of Your Work Your Way

Elizabeth Sanderson (Sheffield Hallam University)


Your Work Your Way (YWYW) was an innovative employment support programme designed and delivered by the Child Poverty Action Group between 2020 and 2023. YWYW focused on employment support for second earners in households claiming Universal Credit (UC). Most participants were women/mothers who had spent a significant amount of time outside the labour market caring for children. An independent mixed-method evaluation of the programme was undertaken by CRESR. This presentation presents findings from the programme evaluation and policy implications of YWYW. The evaluation found a large proportion of participants moved into work and took up training. There were also substantial benefits to participants in terms of overall improvements to their financial circumstances and wellbeing. The provision of personalised and holistic motivational, financial and practical support was critical in helping many participants to improve skills, take up work, and manage the challenges of balancing work and family life. YWYW demonstrated that the provision of long-term, personalised support which empowers women to achieve their ambitions has the potential to significantly improve labour market participation for this group and to move families out of poverty.


Elizabeth Sanderson is a Senior Research Fellow in CRESR. She has over a decade of experience undertaking applied policy research and evaluation projects. A significant proportion of the projects Elizabeth has worked on have been in the areas of welfare, labour markets and employment. She has considerable experience in evaluating employment programmes, through which she has developed an understanding of local labour market dynamics, barriers to work and progression, and the intersection of welfare and labour market policy. Elizabeth was part of the CRESR team who evaluated Work Your Way, an innovative employment support programme designed and delivered by the Child Poverty Action Group focused on employment support for second earners in households claiming Universal Credit.

Paper 1: Disabled leaders in the voluntary sector: how do I fill a research gap in a meaningful way?
Ellie Munro (Sheffield Hallam University)


Two major political parties in England have stated their intention to reform disability benefits, and rhetorically linked reforms to worklessness among disabled people. Nowhere in this discourse, however, is discussion of the realities of work as a disabled person. Issues of quality of work, career progression and equity in the workplace are absent.

I am hoping to take forward a programme of research which addresses these themes specifically in the voluntary and community sector workplace, in contemporary and historical context. The voluntary sector employed just under 1 million people in the UK in 2022. 26% identified as disabled – a higher proportion than in other sectors (NCVO, 2023). Despite this, there is a significant research gap around the experience of disabled leaders in the sector. In 2020-21 a colleague and I started to fill this research gap with our report, Hidden Leaders, about disabled leaders in civil society, but there is much more to do.

This presentation will introduce the research done so far by ourselves and others, and throw a number of questions back to the audience to help develop the agenda and methods further. These questions include: how best to involve disabled leaders in the research design and delivery; how to mitigate the risk of harm to disabled participants; and how to produce research that can help secure tangible improvements in workplaces. While these questions are specific to my research, they are also applicable across groups of people with experience of injustice.


I am a Researcher in the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University, with a focus on sociological and historical research on the voluntary and community sector. I completed my PhD at the University of Birmingham in 2022. I also work for the University and College Union (UCU) as a national organiser and research officer. I have 18 years’ experience working in policy, research and training for UK charities in thematic areas including children’s rights, health and disability, women’s rights and voluntary sector infrastructure.

Paper 2: The Scylla State. A gendered understanding of the experiences of marginalised women in the United Kingdom

Rebecca Hamer (Sheffield Hallam University)


Since the formation of the 2012 Coalition government, the UK has been subject to 12 years of neoliberal policy enacted with ferocity and vigour. This has comprised austerity measures including the retrenchment of welfare via the reshaping of the welfare state and public services according to business practices, ideals of individual responsibilising and overwhelmingly, the notion of reducing the state’s ideological and fiscal responsibility for equity and social welfare. The neoliberal state has been conceptualised by Loic Wacquant as a Centaur, boasting a liberal head, yet one atop an authoritarian body whose focus is the designated ‘underclasses’, the socially and economically non-compliant. The Centaur takes away with one hand while ruling punitively with the other, specifically via ‘prison fare’ and ‘workfare’ to compel submission to precarious and sub-par employment. Although compelling, the Centaur State is justifiably critiqued for its blindness to gender and focus upon the manifestation of neoliberalism in the States. By exploring the stories of 23 women in the UK with histories of survival sex working and problematic drug use, a distinct gendered alternative reality emerges of the operation and machinations of the neoliberal state. Rather than a Centaur, marginalised women experience the Scylla State, a covert, hydra-headed beast motivated by neo-Victorian ideals of ‘woman fare’. The operations of the Scylla State are unpredictable, replicate traumatising interpersonal experiences and variously involve surveillance, coercion, conditionality and the responsibilisation of victimhood to justify increasingly punitive responses to women’s survival strategies in the face of increasing trauma and deprivation.


Dr Rebecca Hamer is a Research Associate with academic and professional experience of gendered experiences of addiction and the drug treatment system under austerity politics. Rebecca’s research is predominantly qualitative and is focused on the experience of complex disadvantage, trauma and the role of the statutory and voluntary sectors in the amelioration or exacerbation of this. Rebecca has led the evaluation of the Stovewood Trauma and Resilience Service for the last three years and consequently has unique insight into the needs of CSE trauma survivors and services working to support them. Rebecca has contributed to research at CRESR including government-commissioned evaluations and research concerning multiple disadvantage, housing, homelessness and drug treatment.

Paper 1: Agents of dis(belonging)

Temidayo Eseonu (Lancaster University)


Crowley in Yuval-Davis’ (2006, p.204) defines the politics of belonging as the ‘‘the dirty work of boundary maintenance’. This paper examines where boundaries are being drawn about who belongs in a space and how they ought to belong in the space, paying attention to what Jenkins (1996) refers to contextual codes and social practices of inclusion and exclusion.

I will be presenting preliminary findings from a research partnership with a youth organisation in Manchester, England. I used creative and participatory methods with working class young people, most of whom are Black to understand what they mean by belonging. This paper will share this particular group of racially minoritised (RM) young people’s experiences of being othered and alienated, and what it means to belong.

Informed by these findings, this paper will also conceptualise a framework with which to analyse the “dirty work of boundary maintenance” that is consciously or unconsciously carried out by frontline workers through the enactment of racialised administrative power (Blume, 2023). Drawing on vignettes, this paper will identify ways in which discretionary norms, behaviours and practices of educators (Berglund et al., 2022) endanger young people’s sense of belonging in a space. These vignettes include behavioural management and policing of Black hair in schools.

This paper’s contribution is two-fold: theoretically to anti-racism in education through the lens of belonging and methodologically on co-design approaches with young people.


Dr Temidayo Eseonu is a Lecturer in Politics & Policy in the Politics, Philosophy and Religion department at Lancaster University. She is interested in the struggle for racial justice and the means through which this can be achieved, focusing particularly on the interplay of the politics of Black youth and urban governance. Dayo’s research emphasises deliberative and participatory processes which cultivate spaces for the ‘voice of colour’ that imagines a racially just world and the politics through which this voice of colour influences the implementation of racially just policies. She is the founding convenor of the Racial Equity in Policy Network, a network for policymakers in the North of England interested in addressing racial inequalities, and she is co-director of Lancaster University’s Ethics, Values and Policy Initiative. Her current research project is looking at young people experiences of racism in education.

Paper 2: What hidden and hiding homelessness can tell us about people, space and belonging among homeless populations

Elisabeth Garratt (University of Sheffield)


Despite a huge diversity of homeless experiences, research and policy attention has long been disproportionately focussed upon visible forms of homelessness, namely rough sleeping. More recently, however, there has been a growing awareness of hidden homelessness. This presentation will draw on life history interviews with currently and formerly homeless people in the city of Oxford. Alongside the sometimes passive state of hidden homelessness, some participants took a more active and deliberate state in choosing to hide their homelessness – from society, people close to them, and to themselves. People hid their homelessness for a range of reasons, including in response to the inability for services to provide meaningful, valuable support, and in protest at intensifying physical exclusion in public spaces, and behavioural control in institutional settings. Although the act of hiding homelessness represented an exercise of agency in seeking to resist a homeless identity or to promote a different, non-homeless identity, it also served to create particular vulnerability among some hidden populations, vulnerability that was magnified by its invisibility. The presentation will explore the twin phenomena of hidden homelessness and hiding homelessness, and consider the implications of both these experiences on understandings of space and belonging among homeless populations. It will also explore the gendered nature of hidden and hiding homelessness, highlighting how men and women hid or made themselves visible in relation to (perceptions of) service provision.


Dr Elisabeth Garratt – Beth is an interdisciplinary social scientist. She has been a Lecturer in Quantitative Methods at the Sheffield Methods Institute, University of Sheffield, since 2019. Beth undertakes qualitative and quantitative research into food insecurity and homelessness in the UK.

Paper 3: Associational Life: how to understand social life in an individualised and informalized society

David Bomark (University of Strathclyde)


In this presentation I introduce the concept of ‘associational life’, showing the insights I have gained about social life using this concept. The concept was conceived for my PhD research to understand how volunteering relates to other types of activities people do in an increasingly individualised and informalised society. This atomisation of society means that the individual’s needs and preferences come before the collective, and that people are increasingly engaging with others in informal ways rather than in informal groups. This individualisation and informalisation of society is often portrayed as a deterioration of society, but my stance is that this change is neutral, neither good nor bad. Instead, researchers need to understand how this affects society and the ways people engage in social life, which is where the concept of associational life comes in. At the core of it, associational life is any activity that is done together with others, regardless if it is in a formal organisation or an informal gathering. In its simplicity, it refers to both the organisational and the social aspects of what people do together, and can capture both the activities done in a formal setting and the informal and episodic activities people do together with others. As such, associational life can capture many types of activities without it being ambiguous and vague, like the terms ‘community’, ‘social capital,’ or ‘leisure.’ This presentation will demonstrate how the concept of associational life has been used to gain new insights, and introduce it as a versatile tool to understand contemporary society.


David is an early career researcher, having just finished his thesis in Social Policy at the University of Strathclyde, looking at how volunteering differs from other types of activities people engage in. Because of the individualisation and informalisation of society, this research required a new way of understanding how people engage with others. This resulted in the concept of associational life, which is the focus of David’s presentation at this conference. David is currently developing this concept further and plans on applying it beyond voluntary sector research to further understand contemporary society. He is looking to make connections with people who are interested in how people’s relationship to others, and societal institutions, have changed in contemporary society for future collaborations.

Convener: Peter Wells (Sheffield Hallam University)

Session abstract

A recurrent tension in academic policy knowledge exchange has been between the messiness of the policy making process and a desired instrumental rationality where policy making can be better informed by evidence (Schon, 1982; Sanderson, 2002; and Oliver, 2022). This panel will bring together a group involved in different aspects of the Yorkshire-Policy Engagement Research Network (YPERN). It will include academics, policy fellows charged with leading engagement in key social and economic policy fields, local policy makers and evaluators.

The panel will include a lead paper from Andy Mycock (Chief Policy Fellow at YPERN) setting out a series of key propositions and critiques of contemporary policy engagement the and then a series of responses from other panel members. This will then lead into a Q&A debate with the panel attendees.

Speakers / panel members and their biographies are below.

Andy Mycock (YPERN University of Leeds)


Dr Andy Mycock is Chief Policy Fellow of the Yorkshire and Humber Policy Engagement and Research Network. He is a political scientist with extensive experience of research-led academic policy engagement and collaboration with a wide range of government and non-government stakeholders across the UK and internationally. Andy sits on the executive committee of the University Policy Engagement Network and is Vice Chair of the Political Studies Association. He was invited to sit on the UK Government Youth Citizenship Commission (2008-9), chaired the Kirklees Democracy Commission (2016-2018) and has frequently advised UK and devolved governments on devolution and youth citizenship policies. He contributes regularly to BBC local and national media, and a range of print and broadcast media across the UK and internationally. Andy’s key research interests and publications focus on democratic and community engagement and participation in public policy, and devolution politics and policy in the UK, and has co-edited special editions on devolution and constitutional reform in England.

Waqas Hameed (Darnall Wellbeing)


Waqas is a health & wellbeing manager at Darnall Well Being who has vast experience of community engagement and collaboration. Waqas has been on the forefront of exciting new partnership between Darnall Well Being and SHU and AWRC, this partnership has increased collaboration between community and research, improved community resilience by breaking barriers and involving the key stake holders (local community) in the process from the start. He has been part of Long Covid research as a visiting researcher and co-trainer for Frailty study, have supervised Medical Student’s placement at DWB where they learnt about community work, collaboration and link between VCF and Primary care services in Sheffield. Working as health Trainer/wellbeing worker for 13 years he has supported numerous pilot projects.

Dan Olner (University of Sheffield and South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority)


Dr. Dan Olner is a Y-PERN policy fellow in the management school at Sheffield University, seconded to South Yorkshire Combined Mayoral Authority where he is helping with data and evidence analysis for their growth and skills strategies. A spatial economist by background, Dan is keenly interested in understanding how places form, what makes geographical thinking so unique, and how evidence can help build regional identity and understanding. He would also like to understand better how data and evidence can be democratically accountable to the people it affects. More info about Dan’s work at

Kayleigh Renberg-Fawcett (YPERN, University of Leeds and Universities Policy Engagement Network)

Paper 1: Resilience and Inequality in the UK Housing System: The Scarring Effects of Post-2000 Economic Shocks on Housing Insecurity

Rhiannon Williams (University of Sheffield)


This study investigates the persistence of the effects of the Global Financial Crisis on housing insecurity among social renters, private renters, and mortgaged homeowners in England, and compares this persistence to the effects of the 2012 welfare reforms. I applied a fixed effects logistic regression research design to two Understanding Society data samples, subset to include several years before and after each economic event. This enabled the comparison of housing insecurity trajectories and the effects on housing insecurity associated with each event to identify potential differences and similarities in their impacts. Findings demonstrated a significant persistent rise in housing payment problems around the time of the Global Financial Crisis, followed by a gradual decline until a small peak around the time of introduction of the UK welfare reforms. The findings indicate that the GFC’s effects on housing have not been experienced equally across populations, with demographic variations in the size and persistence of its impacts. Housing insecurity among renters, particularly social renters, has recovered the least since the GFC and was most vulnerable to spikes connected to the welfare reforms.


Rhiannon Williams is a Research Associate with CaCHE, based in the University of Sheffield Urban Studies and Planning department. She is currently involved in quantitative research on housing inequalities and how housing intersects with social and economic factors such as ethnicity, age, disability, and welfare policy. Rhiannon’s PhD research at the Sheffield Methods Institute investigated the relationship between housing insecurity and the introduction of Universal Credit in England.

Paper 2: What Innovative Housing Models Can Be Developed to Address the Increasing Housing Difficulties Faced by Young People in the UK

Dean Ireland (Northumbria University)


This collaborative industrial doctorate between Northumbria University and YMCA Newcastle aims to establish a novel working relationship with a vision to integrate social housing provision for vulnerable young individuals aged 18 to 30 into the core services of the charity by 2030. Leveraging empty housing stock provided by Newcastle City Council, the project seeks to revolutionise the conventional social housing model, alleviating housing system strains by offering high-quality moving-on accommodations in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Through the utilisation of focus groups involving young people in foster care, the project will ascertain their housing needs and create a rapport with them as they transition into available city accommodations. The methodology employed will be adaptive and pragmatic, tailored to the collaborative dynamics of an ongoing project, using design research at its core.

With a focus on young people, this doctorate addresses the existing disparity between housing, employment, health, and welfare services. Additionally, attention will be directed towards the establishment of a new youth centre in Walker, Newcastle and the provision of emergency accommodation, also in Walker.

The project endeavours to document, analyse, and refine its processes to ensure the transferability of insights and maximise its impact on future endeavours. Furthermore, it will generate comprehensive packages of drawings at planning, building regulations, and tender stages, aligned with the RIBA Plan of Work, to streamline the project’s execution and ensure its successful realisation.


As a chartered architect with a decade of experience, I’ve navigated the realms of design, construction, and academia with an enthusiasm for the industry. Establishing 19Architects in 2021, I’ve created a reputation for innovative design solutions for a range of clients. Beyond my business, I find immense fulfilment in educating aspiring architects at University, imparting both theoretical and practical knowledge gained from years in the field.

Now my focus is on my doctoral research with Northumbria University and YMCA Newcastle, where I’m delving deep into the complexities of the housing crisis and seeking innovative solutions to address this pressing societal challenge. The doctorate has expanded to include both a new youth centre and refugee accommodation for YMCA Newcastle in Walker.

Following a decade of working in architectural practice, identifying the housing crisis from an academic perspective and inserting myself as a reflective practitioner offers a chance to analyse the problems young people face through design research methods. The research will thoroughly analyse prior legislation and offer new ideas and solutions in order to introduce unique social housing models to the market and a holistic approach to youth support services.

Through entrepreneurship, education, and scholarly pursuits, I’m driven by a sense of purpose to not only shape the physical landscape but also contribute meaningfully to societal betterment, one architectural endeavour at a time.

Paper 3: Empty Homes and Sheffield

Yahya Aydin (University of Sheffield and Ankara Yildirim Beyazıt University) and Rowland Atkinson (University of Sheffield)


The popularity of urban areas as investment opportunities has increased, particularly for residential property. In order to comprehend this phenomenon in England, it is crucial to understand the impact of neoliberalism and neoliberal urban policies. This paper covers three types of empty and low use property: long-term empty properties, second homes and short-term let properties. In order to implement housing policy effectively, it is essential to have a clear categorisation of empty properties. The research draws upon the insights of local councils, non-governmental organisations, development companies, hotels and estate agencies, as well as experts in the field, to investigate the issue of empty and low use property. The focus of the discussion on empty and low use homes is on large cities such as London and Manchester, as well as tourist destinations in the south of England. In contrast, this research places particular emphasis on Sheffield to examine the practical application of dealing with empty and low-use properties. This research presents initial findings from fieldwork on the discussion of the same issue in different locations outside of highly populated or coastal tourist areas. The main finding suggests that although Sheffield is located in a different part of the country, it is facing similar challenges in the housing market.


He completed his MA in Urban History at the University of Leicester and subsequently proceeded to complete his PhD in Sociology at the University of Southampton. Since 2020, he has been employed as an Assistant Professor in the Sociology department at Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University in Turkey. He is currently an academic visitor at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield for one year (from August 2023 to August 2024). His research interests include housing inequalities, housing policies, belonging, place-making and urban regeneration.

Paper 1: Agri-food decarbonisation pathways, just transitions and SMEs

Elpida Apostolopoulou and William Eadson (Sheffield Hallam University)


This article conceptualises the position of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) within just transitions to net zero agri-food systems.

Decarbonising global agri-food systems is fundamental to net zero goals. Decarbonisation processes have implications for social and economic inequalities, across different sectors and geographies: there is therefore a growing concern for ‘just transition’ to net zero. SMEs have not been directly connected to JT debates to date, but examination of the agri-food system highlights how SMEs are critical to achieving an inclusive, equitable transition.

Drawing from a semi-systematic literature review, we provide a thematic analysis of agri-food transitions, synthesizing a novel research agenda that brings together the agri-food JT and SME decarbonisation scholarship. In our review we: (1) explore existing understanding and analysis of the position of SMEs within agri-food transitions; (2) produce an analytical framework to examine potential implications for SMEs under different transition pathways; and (3) outline the transition-induced justice considerations that arise.

Highlighting key research gaps and moving beyond existing literature, we develop an archetypal transitions framework to conceptualise and better understand what a JT for agri-food SMEs might look like in three different, but interrelated, pathways: 1. Agri-food system localisation, 2. Demand-led dietary transitions, and 3. Intensive tech-led transitions. From the analysis of each pathway, we identify key points of tension, opportunity, and challenge for different types of SMEs, across different stages of the agri-food supply chain. Through case study examples, we explore in more depth the interrelationships and trade-offs that net-zero transitions create for SMEs. Our framework provides promising outcomes for shaping future research, providing different avenues for re-thinking JT for agri-food SMES, and for re-imagining and re-designing more equitable agri-food systems, built upon solidarity and sustainability.


Elpida is a PhD Candidate researching Just Transitions for agri-food SMEs. She seeks to shed light to transition-induced injustices and explore alternative pathways, in order to promote a more inclusive and equitable for all agri-food transition. Her article-based PhD aims at providing theorical conceptualisations and critical understandings of just agri-food transitions and decarbonisation for different types of SMEs, across the different stages of the agri-food supply chain. In parallel, she uncovers the interrelationships and key challenges arising between agri-food SMEs and existing policy frameworks. Elpida employs comparative case studies from UK and Greece, with the spotlight shed on the South Yorkshire area, seeking to generate a place-based model that will guide Just Transitions in local agri-food SMEs, and will contribute to regional policy development, resilience, and sustainable development.

Paper 2: Active travel equity: shifting focus from distributive analysis to the recognition of marginalised mobility experiences

Mia Rafalowicz-Campbell (Sheffield Hallam University)


The principle of transport equity, that no one should be disadvantaged by a lack of access to transport, is increasingly recognised across policy and practice. While the ideas are gaining traction, there remain a multitude of ways to both conceptualise and operationalise transport equity.

The explosion of research around active travel has seen attention turn to its equitability, with the creation of distributive measurements of relevant ‘goods’ (e.g. cycling infrastructure, pedestrian crossings, physical activity levels) and ‘bads’ (e.g. air pollution, pedestrian fatalities) across both space and a range of population or social groups. The ways to cut the cookie are endless.

Yet while such measurements are central to the development of a more equitable, just, or fair transport system (and society at large), I argue there is other work that also needs to be done in the pursuit of such a system that is inclusive of the breadth of human experience. Following Karel Martens’s (2021) categorisation of the three dimensions of transport equity considerations as distribution, recognition, and representation, I propose a shift in focus to the second of these. That is to ask, who should our equity analysis consider, how can we understand the full range of mobility experiences, in particular more marginalised experiences, and how can these then be reflected and accounted for in our planning and policy? I suggest that such questions require a qualitative exploratory approach to the field of transport studies.

While this can be expanded to any part of the wider transport system, I employ the active travel context, with its multiple and intersectional benefits as well significant public and policy attention, to construct this argument.

Martens, K. (2021). Equity Considerations in Transport Planning. In International Encyclopedia of Transportation: Volume 1-7 (Vol. 6, pp. 154-160)


Mia Rafalowicz-Campbell is a doctoral researcher in walking and cycling equity and inclusion at Sheffield Hallam’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research. Her research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council via the White Rose DTP. Her project is focused on South Yorkshire and employs qualitative go-along video/photo methods to explore a range of mobility experiences, particularly marginalised experiences, and different barriers to walking and cycling. She also works as a mixed-methods researcher on other projects, and is currently researching everyday cycling histories in Sheffield, and policy lessons from e-cargo cycle schemes in the UK.

Paper 3: High Consumption: what’s the problem and what can we do about it?

Aimee Ambrose and Amy Grace (Sheffield Hallam University)


A new book: Post Carbon Inclusion, captures the essence of much of the work of CRESR’s Sustainable Futures research group. Here we explore (through two short presentations) two of the multiple themes of the book: 1) why tackling high consumption is vital to achieving a post carbon future and 2) is justice the right framework for guiding low carbon transitions?


Aimee Ambrose

I am Professor of Energy Policy in CRESR. I have a background in a mixture of social science and the built environment and my research is concerned with how energy and climate related policy (particularly relating to domestic carbon reduction) impacts lived experience in often unanticipated ways and I use non-traditional qualitative methods to explore this.

Amy Grace

Amy Grace is a PhD student and researcher in the Centre for Regional, Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University. Amy’s PhD uses qualitative approaches to explore what drives and locks-in high consumption lifestyles, considering the interplay between individual, psychological, social, cultural and structural factors that influence these. Prior to commencing her PhD, Amy completed a Masters in Psychology in 2021 and spent 15 years in marketing and communications roles.

Paper 1: The polyphony of corporate philanthropy relationships: Unpacking the internal consequences for non-profits of collaboration with the private sector
Katy Adams (University of Heidelberg)


This paper offers an alternative view of the cross-sector relationships of corporates with non-profits, showing how they impact upon not just the operations of the non-profits, but also their organisational stability. More precisely, it argues that the multiple value-narratives in such corporate philanthropy alliances (and the influences upon them) have both short- and long-term effects on the relationship between the non-profit and its employees and, therefore, on the overall strength of the voluntary sector.

Using the theoretical constructs of pragmatic sociology and critical realism, as well as the Theory of Social Identification, this paper outlines how the responses of non-profit employees to the values guiding the transfer of knowledge from a corporate to their organisation are shaped by numerous different factors, including the power balance between the organisations, the personal relationships within the non-profit, and the tactics available to the employees to alter outcomes. It then discusses how these responses impact on the development of the non-profit employees’ identification with their employer and, thus, the internal stability of the non-profit over both the short- and long-term, noting the wider sectoral consequences of such changes.

Based on extant empirical investigations, papers, and case studies, this paper builds a theoretical model of a corporate philanthropy relationship which reveals clearly its complex, ever-changing, and unpredictable nature. It highlights how its outcome for the non-profit can be measured not just in terms of changes to this organisation’s practical capabilities, but also its internal relationships. It reveals the individual and collective impact of decisions made by various parties, including the corporate, the non-profit, any intermediary, and the wider sector, and seeks to encourage a broader understanding of the consequences of corporate philanthropy relationships for non-profits alongside an enhanced recognition of how these can be influenced.


Katy Adams is a final year PhD student at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. She holds an MA from the University of Cambridge in Modern Languages, as well as an MA in Philanthropic Studies from the University of Kent. She has worked as a corporate lawyer in the City and in the non-profit sector in the USA, the UK and Germany. She is currently part of a research team based at the Universities of Hull and Sheffield which examines strengths-based approaches to prevention within communities and is a Visiting Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University. Katy lives with her husband and four children in south Manchester.

Paper 2: Who cares about the voluntary sector?

Oluwaferanmi Adeyemo, Peter Wells, Chris Damm, Elizabeth Sanderson (Sheffield Hallam University)


This paper evaluates the relationships between the state and the voluntary sector in the UK since the New Labour government between 1997-2010 and the current Conservative-led governments (2010-2024) as a way of projecting the future position and role of the voluntary sector in the new government (ahead of the 2024 general election). With a focus on the field of welfare service provision, the review draws on evidence from a series of policy papers, party political manifestoes and academic research to analyse and evaluate how the state’s relations and support for the voluntary sector has journeyed from that of a hyperactive mainstreaming (relational) in the early days of welfare reforms to a sector-blind approach (contractual) which has an attendant effect of favouring private sector and large organisations. With a careful assessment of policy documents such as the Compact, Big Society, and Levelling Up, the paper concludes with an understanding of which political regimes and parties (i.e., Labour or the Tory) care about the voluntary sector. Specific focus is given to issues of public policy, funding and capacity building to provide a projection on what the future of the voluntary sector might be although this should be interpreted with some caution, especially as there is a level of noncoherent UK-wide voluntary sector experience. The first part of the article charts state-voluntary sector relationships in England from 1997 to 2023 exploring the forms and purpose of these relationships. The second part revisits the concepts of ’comparative advantage’ and ‘what works’ and argues that these are central to the changes in the state-voluntary sector’s relationships. Finally, the paper made an attempt to reflect on contrasting policy development and experience found elsewhere in countries such as the USA to draw out key lessons and implications for the role of the voluntary sector moving forward.


Oluwaferanmi is a 3rd year PhD Researcher and Graduate Teaching Assistant at the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR), Sheffield Hallam University. His PhD Thesis focuses on exploring the role of the voluntary sector in the provision of welfare and employment services to unemployed young people (aged 16-24 years). Previously, Oluwaferanmi completed his master’s degree as a Commonwealth Shared Scholar in International Communications and Development at City, University of London in 2021. Professionally, Oluwaferanmi has over 7 years of experience as a Communication Specialist in the NGO sector while working on various sustainable development projects in the areas of poverty reduction, climate change, mental health and youth development. This includes initiating the first Nigerian weekly #Mentalhealthbill Tweet Chat on X (previously Twitter) and policy engagement to advocate for a mental health policy reform in Nigeria in addition to serving as part of the global team leading the #SpeakYourMind campaign in Nigeria on the need for governments to invest in mental health care and services. He also served as a Communication Specialist on a UNODC/EU-funded project in Nigeria on Drug Use, Dependency, Prevention, Treatment and Care (DPTC). Ahead of the Glasgow COP26 in 2021, he led a group of young people in London to carry out #ClimateAidCampaign and policy influencing event with MP Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham constituent while volunteering as a Campaign Organiser with the Christian Aid UK.

Femi Owolade (Chair)

Presentations from:

Kathy Davies, Research Associate at Sheffield Hallam University.


Social scientists and policy researchers are increasingly turning to historical research to better understand the temporal dimensions and the social and cultural significance of contemporary problems. Indeed, historical methods are a key dimension of JustHeat – a large-scale (1.6 million Euros) international and interdisciplinary project led by Professor Aimee Ambrose (CRESR, SHU), that is capturing lived experiences of home heating transition to inform a low-carbon future.

Dr Kathy Davies is leading oral history and archival research for JustHeat in the UK. In this presentation, Kathy will provide insight into using historical methods within the context of the project to demonstrate how this work can reveal previously unheard stories, perspectives, and experiences, and support a deeper understanding of real-world issues to benefit current and future policymaking. The presentation will illuminate the value of historical methods and interdisciplinary collaboration in policy-focussed research.


Dr Kathy Davies is an historian and early career researcher in the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU). Kathy’s main research focus is JustHeat, a CHANSE funded project investigating the social and cultural history of home-heating across Europe to inform energy policy. Alongside JustHeat, Kathy is co-authoring a book titled Was the Past More Sustainable? This collaborative project, funded by the South Yorkshire Sustainability Centre, explores the environmental impact of past ways of living. Kathy was also recently awarded an Archives By-Fellowship at Churchill College, University of Cambridge and is the co-Chair of HistoryLab+, a national network for early career historians.

Ellen Bennett, Senior Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University.


This session will explore how creative research methods can help to create space for participants to construct alternative ways of articulating their experiences, using the research encounter as a space to develop new ideas and ways of understanding. Drawing on a study into organisational histories and transitions, I will discuss my approach to visual group work methods within organisations, considering how these methods supported participants to engage in collective learning, provided ways of challenging existing organisational narratives and (potentially) led to moments of transformation. I will consider the opportunities the methods have provided, the challenges they present and the fun that can be had.


Dr Ellen Bennett is a Senior Lecturer within Sheffield Business School. Ellen’s expertise includes examining the role of voluntary organisations within society over time, and she is currently involved in research across several professional contexts, ranging from small voluntary organisations through to complex multi-sector partnerships.

Ellen has extensive experience in a range of qualitative research techniques – case study research, in-depth interviews, focus groups, documentary analysis and language analysis. Ellen has expertise in coproduction and inclusive research methods which allow participants greater autonomy over the research process and has extensive experience of designing research alongside volunteers and organisational participants as part of the research process. In recent research projects, Ellen has engaged with creative research methods, such as free drawing and photo voice, in order to explore more inclusive research practices.

The venue

The event will be held at: Cantor Building, Sheffield Hallam University, City Campus, 153 Arundel St, Sheffield, Sheffield S1 2NU. Transport options, parking and campus are available on the Sheffield Hallam University website.

Past events