New Crook Fellows to explore disability and disadvantage

This year’s cohort of Crook Public Service Fellow will collaborate with academics to address crucial questions around ‘disability and disadvantage’.

A group of people sit on a picnic bench; one of them is a wheelchair user.

A social work manager, an expert in childhood acquired brain injury, and the first ever joint fellowship project are among this year’s cohort of Crook Public Service Fellows who will collaborate with academics to address crucial questions around ‘disability and disadvantage’.

More than 10 million people in the UK have a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability. Yet whether its access to transport, education and employment support or appropriate healthcare provision, there remain a number of barriers and obstacles faced by disabled communities today.

Over the next 12 months, this year’s Fellows will work alongside academics from across the Faculty of Social Sciences, as well as the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) and the University’s Medical School to explore these issues and develop potential solutions. This year’s fellowships are lead by Professor Katherine Runswick-Cole and Professor Dan Goodley from the iHuman research centre.

Professor Runswick-Cole said: “We are thrilled to be working with a diverse team with a range of experiences and expertise. We are looking forward to working with them and learning from them to improve the lives of disabled people.”

The Crook Public Service Fellowships, named in honour of Professor Tony Crook from the faculty’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, aim to encourage original thinking, combining the latest academic research with practical experience, in order to influence public policy.

The Fellowships address a new theme each year with previous cohorts addressing the housing challenge, democracy, and children’s chances.

We are delighted to announce the 2018/2019 cohort:

Louise Wilkinson

Child Brain Injury Trust

Louise Wilkinson is Head of Information and Learning for the Child Brain Injury Trust, a national charity that supports those affected by childhood acquired brain injury (ABI). Louise has been at the charity for over 10 years and during this time has personally delivered ABI training to over 6,000 professionals across many sectors, but predominantly Education.

Over the last five years Louise has been instrumental in highlighting the issues of childhood acquired brain injury (ABI) and the links with offending behaviours, and the importance of support within education for this cohort, to avoid young people being excluded and entering the justice system. She is founder member of the Criminal Justice and Acquired Brain Injury Interest Group (CJABIIG), and won the UKABIF Stephen MacAleese Award for Inspiration by an Individual in the field of ABI, for her work in this area.

Currently Louise is involved with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Acquired Brain Injury, and raising awareness at the highest levels for improved support within education for children following childhood ABI.

Liam Toner

Sheffield City Council

Liam Toner is a social work team manager for Sheffield City Council and has worked in social care all his adult life. His hope is that he’s an ally to disabled citizens, working alongside them to challenge the barriers they face to living the full and active lives they are entitled to.

Alongside work, he is a Fellow of the Centre for Welfare Reform, a think tank aiming to improve the welfare system and has a research masters which focused on critical disability studies and participatory approaches to research. He was also on the board of SUFA, a Sheffield based user led advocacy organisation.

Liam asserts that social care has faced and continues to face serious challenges which directly affect the lives of disabled people. Through this fellowship Liam wants to explore how citizens, social care professionals and others could work better together, taking full advantage of the strengths and resources each brings, to meet some of these challenges. He is keen to draw on learning from the co-operative movement’s alternative organisational models, which might help in rethinking the divide between citizens and the welfare state.

Lucy Virgo and Sunderland People First - Joint Fellowship project

Inclusion North and Sunderland People First 

Lucy Virgo has worked with people with a learning disability and their families for twenty years at a local, regional and national level. She works as a Project Support Co-ordinator at Inclusion North. She is currently working on a number of projects including a leadership course for young people with a learning disability, autism or both, and a families listening project.

Sunderland People First are a user led Community Interest Company. They work with people with a learning disability and or autism and their families to improve their status as full independent and contributing citizens of their community.

Based in the North East of England, they have over 20 years of experience of working with service’s such as Sunderland City Council, Sunderland CCG, NHS England, Northumbria police and other voluntary sector organisations to drive forward positive change.

They achieve this through consultation, co-production, promoting national and local campaigns, giving people a collective voice and are recognised both locally and nationally for their award-winning work.

For the Fellowship Sunderland People First will be represented by two service users who will work closely with Lucy on a project looking at issues around self advocacy. 

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