My research focusses on social mobility, mental health in adults and children, poverty and food poverty. Recent and ongoing projects include:
Please sir, I want some more: an exploration of repeat foodbank use
This project presents the first attempt to estimate the scale of UK foodbank use among adults and children by examining receipt of emergency food from West Cheshire foodbank between 2013 and 2015. Headline figures about the prevalence of foodbank use from the Trussell Trust capture the number of food supplies that are distributed (the number of food parcels multiplied by the number of recipients) but because people can visit foodbanks more than once, the overall number of recipients is unknown. Consequently, no estimate of the proportion of the population who use food banks is possible. Furthermore, almost nothing is known about the number of times that people visit food banks, and whether repeat visits are more common among certain groups. The project fills a key evidence gap by presenting the first estimate the proportion of adults and children using UK food banks, and the characteristics associated with repeat visits. It shows that while only a minority of people use food banks, this still equates to a substantial number of people. The results indicate that severe levels of poverty are present in contemporary Britain. The article can be downloaded here.
The childhood origins of social mobility: socio-economic inequalities and changing opportunities
This project was commissioned by the government’s Social Mobility Commission. In this report, we explored the social differences in experiences that are important to children’s later prospects, including parental engagement, children’s behavioural problems, deviant behaviours, and families’ social networks. By exploring how these social differences have changed over the past 40 years we sought to determine whether social gaps are widening (as reported in the US in Robert Putnam’s Our Kids) or narrowing over time. Unlike in the US, where a consistently negative portrait of widening opportunity gaps was evident, our research found that the picture in the United Kingdom is not as bleak as in the United States. We found a range of widening, persistent and narrowing social gradients in children’s experiences. The report can be downloaded here.
Emergency food provision in West Cheshire: reasons for use and characteristics of people helped (in partnership with the Trussell Trust and University of Chester)
This project seeks to identify the people who are accessing emergency food provision in West Cheshire, and their reasons for accessing emergency food. It is a mixed-methods project comprising detailed statistical analyses of data collected by West Cheshire Foodbank together with narratives of people experiencing food poverty. In this project we also attempt to distinguish between the number of people who received emergency food provision on a single occasion from those who have received emergency food more than once, in order to gain a more accurate estimate of the total number of people receiving emergency food. The report can be downloaded here.
Social gradients in wellbeing
My doctoral research explored the role of income on mental health in 3-12 year-old British children and their parents. I undertook my PhD at the Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research at The University of Manchester. I was supervised by Professor Tarani Chandola, Dr Kingsley Purdam and Professor Alex Wood. My thesis can be viewed on request – please email me.