Picture of Donna YeatesDonna Yeates

MA Sociological Research (Distinction) University of Sheffield
MA Social Work (Distinction) University of Hull
BA (Hons) English Literature (First Class), Lancaster University

E-mail address: d.yeates@sheffield.ac.uk
Twitter: @donna_yeates

Thesis title / scope of research

‘Developing training together: facilitating dialogue and re-framing relationships between disabled parents with learning difficulties and the professionals who work with them’

Keywords: participatory research, social work, vulnerability, disabled parents with learning difficulties

My research concerns the increasing and disproportionate numbers of disabled parents with learning difficulties whose children are removed from their care. Informed by the social model of disability and utilising theories of vulnerability, I suggest the need for realising the shared vulnerability of both social workers and the people they work with; employing a different conceptualisation of vulnerability and imperfection in order to re-frame this working relationship.

Using participatory methods and prioritising the expertise of parents and social workers, my project aims to facilitate the collaborative development of a training proposal with the potential to enhance working relationships, disrupt common assumptions, and promote spaces for social workers to respond positively to the increasing pressures and constraints of their roles.

Research interests

  • Participatory research
  • Radical/ critical social work
  • Vulnerability and imperfection
  • Disability Studies
  • User-centred pedagogy and practice
  • Relationship-based practice
  • Risk and resilience


Dr Harriet Churchill and Dr Angharad Beckett.

Awards and scholarships

  • 2014: Joseph Rowntree Foundation small research grant
  • 2012-2016: ESRC 1+3 PhD studentship, White Rose Doctoral Training Centre
  • 2008: John Whitfield Memorial Prize (Best MA Dissertation), University of Hull

Papers, publications and presentations

‘Being the change you wish to see in the world: shared vulnerability in social work with parents with learning disabilities’: Conference paper presented at Fifth Annual Regional White Rose Social Work PhD Summer Conference, 4th July 2014, University of Sheffield.

Other experience

  • 2015: Facilitator for The State of Sheffield Social Sciences Faculty Challenge, University of Sheffield
  • Chair of Organising Committee, ‘Considering Contributions, Considering Change’, Sociological Studies Annual Postgraduate Conference, 25th June 2014, University of Sheffield
  • Organising Committee of ‘Gender and Disability: Asking Difficult Questions’, 10th May 2014, ICOSS, University of Sheffield
  • 2013: Independent practice assessor for MA Social Work student on placement, University of Sheffield
  • 2009-2012: Local authority social worker