Established in 2006, CIRCLE is a theoretically informed and policy relevant research centre which carries out research, evaluation and bespoke consultancy on contemporary issues and debates in three key areas: Care; Labour; and Equalities.

The Centre was based in the University of Leeds for 9 years before transferring to the University of Sheffield in October 2015. CIRCLE is led by Directors Professor Sue Yeandle and Dr Andrea Wigfield, and comprises a strong team of academics and researchers who work flexibly with policy makers and practitioners in the public, private and voluntary sectors as partners, collaborators, funders and clients. The team is supported by a dedicated administrative team and a pool of research associates.

CIRCLE's Mission

CIRCLE’s mission is to contribute to a deeper understanding of contemporary issues and debates around Care, Labour and Equalities at all levels - local, national and international - maintaining and extending its international reputation for excellence in research, evaluation and consultancy activities in these fields.


CIRCLE’s focus on care includes studies of:

  • the needs and characteristics of unpaid carers especially those of working age
  • home care workers and their training and development needs
  • cost effectiveness and social return on investment of different forms of carer identification and support
  • technology and care, especially the use of telecare in the homes of people needing health and social care support
  • care delivery through social enterprise
  • how caring communities and networks emerge, operate and can be fostered

CIRCLE’s research on labour encompasses that done in a paid, unpaid or voluntary capacity and seeks to deepen understanding of how local labour markets and divisions of labour operate, particularly for women and men, people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds and cultures, and people in different life stages.

CIRCLE’s focus is on systems, structures, and the decisions and choices people make, including:

  • how paid and unpaid labour is organised
  • how the organisation of work and of care services affect people’s ability to combine work and care
  • how migration affects patterns of work and care

CIRCLE’s research on equalities focuses on the nine protected characteristics, as defined by the Equality Act 2010: age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race, religion and belief; sex; and sexual orientation.

Our emphasis is on assessing equality of opportunity, as well as equality of outcomes. We are building on a strong body of work around the concept of good relations across all aspects of society; beyond the traditional focus on neighbourhood or the narrow spatial definitions of community – in workplaces, schools and leisure places and many different kinds of public, institutional or shared spaces - principally through the key domains of: attitudes; interaction; personal security; and participation and influence.

Major Studies

CIRCLE’s work builds on a strong base of studies, established through the Gender and Employment in Local Labour Markets programme (2003-6); the Carers, Employment and Services study (2002-7, conducted in partnership with Carers UK); and the ESRC Care and Values Research Group (CAVA, 1999-2005).

More recently (2008-11) CIRCLE has carried out a range of major studies for UK Government Departments (DH and DWP) examining policy interventions designed to support unpaid carers, It also undertook a programme of work on the relationship between caring and technology, with projects funded by Carers Scotland, the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). The latter part-funded a major project – ‘AKTIVE’ (Advancing Knowledge of Telecare for Independence and Vitality in Later Life) – which explored how telecare can improve the lives of older people (with dementia, or who are susceptible to falls) and their carers.

External engagement

CIRCLE supports, and welcomes enquiries from: commissioners and funders of research/evaluation studies; external research associates; international visiting scholars; PhD students; and undergraduate placement students.

Contact CIRCLE

Department of Sociological Studies
University of Sheffield, S10 2TU
Tel: 0114 222 6484