Written by Elaine Speyer 

Back at the end of the summer, when I heard that I had been successful in my application and interview for a PhD, I was surprised, excited, and petrified all at once! My start date was not long after, so I didn’t have much time for it to all sink in, before getting started.  

The PhD is looking at the needs, outcomes, and experiences of minoritised young people who are entitled to the Welsh Basic Income Pilot for care leavers. It is an offshoot of a bigger evaluation project that CASCADE is working on with partner universities (more info on that project here), so it is lovely that I will still be connected to the research centre.  

For the PhD, I will be undertaking a mixed methods study, using primary and secondary data, so there is a lot to get through. But I feel incredibly lucky to be able to study such an interesting topic area, which combines many of my passions around giving voice to minoritised groups, whilst exploring possible solutions to poverty and inequality. I have a wonderful supervisory team to help me through it and I have had an opportunity to meet with the young people’s advisory group for this project, so feel very fortunate to have their input. I hope that I can do the young people justice!  

Whilst I have been busy working on the PhD, I have also been lucky to have been able to stay with the Public Involvement team for one day per week. Fortunately, we have had a fantastic new team mate, Josie, who has taken on a lot of what I was doing, before I reduced my hours. 

Although, I miss working with some of our fabulous groups more regularly, I am so pleased that I am still part of the team, and I have been able to pop in with different pieces of work I have been involved in. I will also continue to work with the ERICA Public Involvement group, which is looking at ethnic and religious inequalities in social work (more on that here).  

Currently, I am working alongside colleagues and our parents’ group, on a paper about how we work to involve them in our research. I am contributing to a toolkit for supporting involvement in research for people with lived experience of social services. I am also looking at how we can involve people in our evaluations, so that we can understand from them what good looks like, and whether and how we are achieving as a team.  

It has certainly been a busy time, but a very exciting one too. I look forward to continuing my studies and working with the team on the many different and interesting projects we get involved in.  

I would like to thank the CASCADE research centre, and the Public Involvement team, who have been so supportive of me and my development since I have been here. It has been great working with you all!