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The research is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and runs from April 2022 - Mar 2024. The research team is made up of experts from the University of Strathclyde, University of Sheffield, Social Finance, Breakthrough UK and Speakup Self Advocacy. Central to the project are values and practices of co-production with partners and the involvement of Experts by Experience in both the research team and participants. ​

The project operates across four work packages each designed to deliver new insights and understandings for the improved design, implementation, performance, experiences and scaling of IPS and Supported Employment in diverse population groups and settings beyond severe mental health. 

Work Package One delivers a mapping and targeted systematic review of IPS and Supported Employment interventions beyond severe mental health to provide a consolidated understanding of the international evidence base. Areas of focus include evidence around interventions, outcomes, impacts, costs and savings, and mechanisms. 

Work Package Two delivers qualitative interviews and collaborative workshops with policy stakeholders, provider organisations and Experts by Experience from many of the UK’s leading services, trials and pilots of IPS and Supported Employment in diverse population groups beyond severe mental health including: individuals with learning disabilities and autism, common mental health conditions, musculoskeletal conditions, substance issues as well as experiences of homelessness and the criminal justice system to name but a few. Areas of focus include understanding experiences, strengths and weaknesses, opportunities, challenges, critical success factors, development needs and their implications for scholarship and practice. 


Work Package Three delivers cost-benefit analyses of different IPS and Supported Employment scenarios beyond severe mental health. A key aim is to calculate the expected costs and savings of alternatively designed services for alternative population groups and at alternative performance levels. Work Package Three also develops open source cost benefit tools for wider future use by commissioners and providers.


Work Package Four delivers an applied toolkit of practical resources for policy commissioners and providers to support the improved future design and delivery of IPS services beyond severe mental health population groups and healthcare settings.


The Research Team

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Prof Adam Whitworth

Principal Investigator

Univ of Strathclyde

Prof Adam Whitworth is an expert in the comparative design and evaluation of employment support interventions. He has worked extensively with government and provider partners and has led the design and evaluation of several IPS interventions. He is based in the Scottish Centre for Employment Research in the Dept for Work, Employment and Organisation in Strathclyde Business School


Prof Katherine Runswick-Cole


Univ of Sheffield

Prof Katherine Runswick-Cole is a Professor in Education at the University of Sheffield. She is passionate about disability studies, disability politics and campaigning for a society in which disabled people are seen as fully human – with the access to full inclusion this implies. 

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Dr Sue Baxter


University of Sheffield

Dr Sue Baxter is a Senior Research Fellow in the School for Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield. She has carried out a broad portfolio of review research over more than 20 years relating to the delivery of health and care services, and public health, with a particular interest in how the health of individuals and the population might be improved and inequalities reduced. 


Prof Alan Brennan


University of Sheffield

Prof Alan Brennan is Professor of Health Economics and Decision Modelling at ScHARR, University of Sheffield. He has been developing and applying modelling in support of healthcare decision-making nationally and internationally, across a large range of diseases, interventions, service planning and policy issues for over 25 years.  


Bex Spencer


Social Finance

Bex is an Associate Director within Social Finance’s Work and Health Team, passionate about supporting people with disabilities and health conditions find and keep fulfilling paid work.  She oversees Social Finance’s portfolio of social investment into supported employment services and was previously the National Programme Lead for IPS Grow.    


Michele Scattergood


CEX, Breakthrough UK

Michele has thirty years’ experience of working within disability issues and disabled people’s organisations. Since 2008 Michele has been the Chief Executive of Breakthrough UK, a successful disabled people’s organisation based in Manchester which promotes independent living and employment. Michele aims to influence local, regional and national policy and practice. 


Annie Ferguson


Speakup Self Advocacy

Annie is a Principal Inclusion worker at Speakup and a founding member of the organisation. She is passionate about employing people with learning disabilities and autistic people to enable them to live valued, independent and fulfilled lives. She also supports the organisation through development work, funding and organising projects. 

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Dr Anne Marie Cullen

Research Associate

Univ Strathclyde

Dr Anne Marie Cullen is a Research Associate on the project based at the University of Strathclyde. Since her PhD in labour aesthetics she has managed and conducted a variety of qualitative research projects around skills, employment and vulnerability, with a particular emphasis on listening to and empowering the voices of marginalised individuals and communities. 


Vicky Farnsworth


Expert by Experience

Speakup Self Advocacy

Vicky is an Expert with Lived Experience, a trainer, researcher and a peer supporter who works for Speakup supporting others to gain independence and live the best possible life they can. Through her job at Speakup she has worked for many top organisations giving her opinion and ideas to make services better. She is a valued member of the Speakup team.


Elaine Astley


Expert by Experience

Breakthrough UK

Elaine is the Policy and Research Officer at Breakthrough UK, a Manchester based disabled people’s organisation. She has worked there since 2003, firstly within an Employment Advocacy Project and since 2010 leading on Breakthrough’s influence and engagement work, particularly around health equality and inclusive employment. She is an experienced group facilitator and disability inclusion trainer. 

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