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Big Local evaluation advisory group

Meet the team

January 2017

Our evaluation advisory group guides the development and implementation of the evaluation of Big Local.

This group of respected researchers and evaluators provide advice on research into Big Local, act as a sounding board for our ideas and help us test our evaluation approach. We are committed to high quality research and evaluation of Big Local and the advisory group help us to achieve this. The group meets every 6 months and you can read more about each member below. To find out more about the advisory group, please contact us.

John Whitton (chair)

John is chair of the evaluation advisory group, and director of the University of Central Lancaster’s (UCLan) Energy Centre. John formed UCLan Energy in 2014, a multi-disciplinary entity that boasts a range of undergraduate and postgraduate energy courses. John leads the UCLan Energy and Society Research Group. He also works extensively with communities, carrying out social research on energy demand behaviour and the relationship between people and energy infrastructure. John is also a trustee of Local Trust. 

Diane Warburton

Diane is a partner at Shared Practice which works on participatory democracy, sustainable development and creative activities. Diane is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Brighton and a founding Trustee of Involve. In recent years, Diane has worked mainly on evaluation projects; she has evaluated 20 major national participatory projects and programmes personally, and (as Sciencewise evaluation manager for seven years) overseen a further 41 evaluations of national policy-related public dialogue projects. She has also written widely for public, academic and professional audiences on community, public and stakeholder participation.

Emma Stone

Emma is a member of the Senior Leadership Team for Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust (JRHT), and currently leads the Policy and Research department. The department develops and uses evidence from research and experience to inform, influence and inspire social change in the UK- with a focus on solving poverty. Before joining JRF, Emma completed her PhD at University of Leeds and was a contract researcher with the Centre for Disability Studies.

Professor Jennie Popay

Jennie is Professor of Sociology and Public Health at the Institute for Health Research. Jennie began her research career at the Unit for the Study of Health Policy at Guy's Hospital in London and has worked as a sociologist in the public health field ever since. Her research interests include social and gender inequalities in health, the sociology of knowledge, public/community engagement in health decision making and the evaluation of complex social interventions.

Karl Wilding

Karl is director of public policy and volunteering at the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and leads their policy, research, media and public affairs, and international relations teams. He has lead responsibility for two of NCVO's strategic aims: championing the voluntary sector, and connecting people and organisations, and speaks and writes widely on the big issues facing the voluntary sector.

Kirby Swales

Kirby is director of the Survey Research Centre at NatCen, which is the country’s leading independent social research organisation. He oversees the design and delivery of many of the country’s largest and most important social surveys. He has a background of research management and commissioning, having over ten years’ experience as a research manager in central government, including for the Departments for Work and Pensions and Communities and Local Government. Kirby also has senior-level delivery experience, including spells as chief executive for a £52m regeneration partnership in London, and in helping to set up the Big Local programme.

Professor Marilyn Taylor

Marilyn is Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Voluntary Action Research and Visiting Professor at Birkbeck, University of London. Marilyn has been involved in research on community policy, programmes and practice for many years and more recently on place based funding by independent foundations.  She has published widely for policy, practice and academic audiences.  She is Chair of the Research Advisory Group  for the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and a member of the Community Development Journal Editorial Board. 

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