Wendy Sykes

Wendy has worked as an independent researcher for more than 25 years, across a wide range of policy fields including health (and mental health), criminal justice, transport, alcohol and drug use, social care, youth development, employment, equality and human rights, benefits and pensions, food and farming. She has both qualitative and quantitative research expertise and a long-standing interest in research methodology having started her career at the former ESRC/SCPR (now NatCen) Survey Methods Centre. Specialisms include research design, qualitative data collection and analysis, questionnaire design and survey question development (including cognitive testing), desk research including evidence reviews, report writing, evaluation, proposal writing and project management. Wendy is a member of the Social Research Association and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.


Carola Groom

Carola is experienced in a range of social research and evaluation methodologies and is skilled in desk research, in-depth interviews and qualitative data analysis. She is an experienced report writer and editor.

Projects include many with vulnerable people dealing with complex and sensitive issues. Policy areas include health and social care,  bereavement, disability, equality and human rights, bullying and harassment, criminal justice, transport, communications, employment, drugs and alcohol use, youth. She has collaboratively researched and written a book about the experience of sickle cell patients in Britain since the 1950s.

Carola has a BA in Law (Class I) from Oxford University and an MSc in Social Policy and Social Work Studies, (with Certificate of Qualification in Social Work) from the London School of Economics. She is based in Greater Manchester.






Nick Coleman

Nick has over 20 years of experience in social research.  Since 2007, he has worked as an independent research consultant, providing expertise on quantitative research design, as well as managing and reporting on Government research studies.  Previously he was a Group Head at BMRB Social Research, where he worked for 10 years.  Before this, he spent 9 years in social research at MORI. Nick’s main areas of interest are employment, benefits and welfare, families and children, and skills and learning. He also has extensive expertise in longitudinal studies and surveys of businesses.  Nick specialises in research design and sampling; managing large and complex quantitative surveys; analysis and reporting, using SPSS. He has conducted evidence reviews and a number of large projects re analysing national survey data sets.

Philly Desai

Philly is an independent consultant with over twenty years’ experience in qualitative social research. He has worked on issues such as public sector recruitment, child road safety, transport, racism, equalities issues, benefits and debt, and fire safety. Much of this work has focussed on disadvantaged social groups, such as refugee communities, recent migrants to the UK, drug mis-users and non-English speakers. Philly is well known for his research with BME communities. He is particularly interested in combining methods from academic and commercial research. He specialises in innovative approaches such as observation, ethnography, creative workshops, and the use of photography and video in research. He has a PhD in sociology from Goldsmiths College, London, is the author of Methods beyond interviewing in qualitative market research (Sage 2002) and is an editorial reviewer for the International Journal of Market Research. Philly is currently engaged in research connected with a number of development projects in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa, funded mainly by DFID.

Andrea Finney

Andrea has over 15 years’ experience in central government and academia. She has a strong grounding in both quantitative and qualitative methods and specialises in the design and multivariate analysis of complex social surveys; she has analysed several large-scale national and European surveys. Much of her work to date has related to personal finance, poverty and crime, with wider interests including fuel and food poverty, road safety and patient experiences. She was a Senior Research Fellow for the University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre and previously worked as a senior researcher at the Office for National Statistics and the Home Office.

Genevieve Groom

Genevieve worked as a Principal Social Researcher for the UK Government Social Research Service (GSR) where she led a team of data collection methodologists and had responsibility for designing and refining social survey questionnaires for government and non-government clients, including international organisations. She has extensive research experience and expertise in designing and managing complex research projects that use qualitative and/or quantitative methods; with skills in mixed mode survey design, questionnaire design and cognitive testing, online data collection, interviewing, focus group facilitation and deliberative techniques.

Alan Hedges

Alan is an independent consultant who makes small amounts of high level input to projects. He has worked in the world of social and market research since the early 60s, and has been active in qualitative research for most of that time. He has operated as a self-employed consultant for over 30 years.  Before this he was Research and Marketing Director of what was then one of Britain’s largest advertising agencies, S H Benson.  He originally trained as a quantitative researcher at Mass-Observation.  He is an elected Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences. Alan’s interests are: social policy and public sector issues (notably environment, housing, health, and social security matters); public consultation, involvement and participation; communications, information and marketing strategy; facilitation of workshops and seminars; advice and consultancy – on research methods and on the policy implications of research findings.

Mary Hickman

Mary is a social researcher with over 20 years research experience, who has worked across the broad spectrum of research, both inside and outside of government. She has both undertaken primary research and commissioned and managed large research projects, using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, and involving a number of national and international partners. These projects have covered a wide variety of topics including the health behaviour of adults and young people, the measurement of PSA targets, public attitudes and customer satisfaction, Her last fulltime role was as Head of Research and Head of Profession for Social Research in HM Revenue and Customs, responsible for the recruitment, retention and professional development of over 20 members of the social research team.

Jean Hopkin

Jean is a social researcher specialising in transport policy and transport, and transport research evaluation. She works part time as an independent researcher and part time as a TRL researcher. She is also a member of the Transport Associates Network, a group of experienced transport researchers with a wide reach in the transport field. Jean has a broad background in road safety issues, is familiar with key stakeholder groups and organisations, and is knowledgeable about road accident statistics and experienced in their analysis. She has recently carried out a series of projects on the safety of specific groups of road users in order to identify options for reducing casualties; these projects won a Prince Michael International Road Safety Award in 2010.

Radhika Howarth

Radhika specialises in qualitative research and social marketing and has particular expertise in the attitudes, behaviour and social identities of minority ethnic groups. Her background is in public health, research and community development. She is particularly interested in the area of health and has experience in health research, developing and evaluating public health campaigns, and work to reduce health inequalities. She has undertaken several social marketing projects on cancer, child obesity, vascular health and COPD with mainstream audiences and ethnic minority communities. Her experience also includes working with health trusts on improving patient experience and patient public involvement. She has a Diploma in Dietetics and Public Health, Masters in Research and Quality Evaluation and Postgraduate certificate in Social Marketing. She is fluent in several South Asian languages.

John Kelly

John has worked constantly in the fields of social and market research since 1972, mainly as an independent qualitative researcher, but also as a desk researcher. He has a very broad experience of qualitative research, carried out mainly in the UK, but also abroad, particularly in Europe, helped by an early grounding in several European languages. Today his work consists almost entirely of social research for the public sector, particularly central government, plus a career-long specialisation in market research for the wine industry.


Research Institute for Consumer Affairs (RICA) offers a consumer user testing panel of 350 older and disabled users, a mystery shopping panel of 85 older and disabled users, contacts with all the leading UK consumer organisations, disability and older person organisations, in depth understanding of the issues which affect older and disabled people, and international contacts with those working in similar fields.

Alison Walker

Alison is an experienced social researcher with 30 years of experience of all stages of the survey process, including commissioning, along with other types of social research. She has particular expertise in large scale complex surveys and in appropriate methods of dissemination. Alison started her career in the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys which she returned to later in life having had a successful career as an independent social researcher working for government, academia and the commercial sector. During this time she developed expertise in a wide range of topic areas including health, physical activity and social capital. More recently she has been involved in criminal justice system research, including Crime Surveys in the Home Office, and Re-offending, Prison and Probation statistics in the Ministry of Justice.

Andrew Westlake

Andrew  is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and of the British Computer Society, and Elected Member of the International Statistical Institute. His early career was in academic or international research groups, focusing on medical statistics, demography and epidemiology.  This included working with large-scale data, and he has been heavily involved in the design and processing of sample surveys.  Strongly founded in maths and statistics, all his work is permeated by an interest in computing, information technology and databases.  He has administrative and project management experience, and considerable consultancy experience, both in the UK and overseas.  He has worked in a number of developing countries. Andrew Westlake is now an independent consultant in survey and statistical computing. Much of his work relates to design and implementation issues for systems and databases handling survey and statistical data and analysis. He has worked with UK government departments, Eurostat, on overseas projects and with UK small businesses.