Our staff

Dr Vanessa Pinfold

Vanessa has been working in mental health research for over 25 years.  She has published studies on stigma and discrimination, families and carers, experiences of the mental health system, wellbeing networks as well as more recently co-production in mental health research.  She is currently prioritising developing peer research methods through collaborative or co-production approaches. This includes work developing a community navigators approach to combat loneliness among people with depression and anxiety, developing a collaborative model of care working across primary and secondary care for people with on-going mental health needs, and progressing work on wellbeing networks. Vanessa is an experienced health services researcher and leader within the mental health research charity sector. She currently chairs the Alliance of Mental Health Research Funders and at McPin is the co-founder and research director who is responsible for overseeing the work of the charity. She has a PhD from University of Nottingham, Department of Geography.


Vanessa Pinfold, Research Director
Vanessa Pinfold, Research Director

Dr Dan Robotham

Dan joined McPin in March 2017. He has experience of conducting and managing research and evaluation across NHS, academic and charity settings. Before joining McPin, he was a researcher and coordinator of Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) at the Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre. He worked at the Mental Health Foundation for four years. Before this he was at UCL, where he coordinated a clinical trial to improve learning disabilities services whilst also completing a PhD on the experiences of those who were taking part in the trial.

Dan Robotham, Deputy Research Director

Dr Thomas Kabir

Thomas leads the Public Involvement in Research (PIiR) programme at the McPin Foundation. Thomas has a first degree in physics and a PhD in bioinformatics from University College London. Thomas’s PhD focused on understanding how proteins bind to one another to form complexes. After completing his doctorate he worked as a mental health advocate for Mind in Camden. He also worked with Commissioning Support for London to support the establishment of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies services (IAPT) across London. From 2009 until 2014 Thomas was the coordinator of the national service user involvement arm of the NIHR Mental Health Research Network. Thomas has worked on a number of national public and patient involvement (PPI) in research initiatives including the ‘Budgeting for Involvement’ guide together with INVOLVE, and service user focused outcome measures. Thomas has also helped to produce several resources that aim to help people in receipt of welfare benefits receive payments for involvement work.

Thomas Kabir, Head of Public Involvement in Research

Tanya Mackay

Tanya joined McPin in 2019 following a move from Australia. Her previous work was university-based, and had a strong focus on co-design in research and advocacy. She has a First Class Honours degree in social work, and uses her practice knowledge of strengths-based and narrative approaches as well as her lived experience as both a service user and carer to inform her research. She has worked extensively on recovery models and peer work within the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Australia, and continues to be involved in various academic work around consumer directed models of care across social support service broadly. Tanya has also been involved in developing policy in the mental health space. She is passionate about lived experience expertise, and her role at McPin allows her to continue to develop this approach to research. She has an interest in ongoing work around vicarious trauma for people in support roles and research, and hopes to contribute to improving mechanisms for supporting the wellbeing of people in these positions.

Tanya Mackay, Research Manager
Tanya Mackay, Research Manager

Dr Rose Thompson

Rose has worked as a social scientist for 10 years. She completed her PhD in social psychology at Cardiff University, which explored health related attitude change. Following her PhD she has been involved in producing research in both social and genetic perspectives on intellectual disability, epilepsy and mental health, using quantitative and qualitative perspectives. She has also contributed to teaching of and student supervision in ethical perspectives in genetic counselling. Rose joined The McPin Foundation in 2015 and works on a number of projects that encompass elements of peer support, personalisation and recovery, on which she works with a number of talented peer researchers. She is particularly interested in the impact of interpersonal relationships on mental health, and people may be supported to nurture supportive and positive relationships with the people close to them. She also has an interest in using creative methodologies (visual arts, writing, or theatre) to work with people to achieve a greater understanding of their experiences with mental health, and to produce work that can communicate those experiences to wide audiences.

Rose Thompson, Senior Research Manager

Raj Hazzard

Raj is a researcher who joined Mcpin in 2015. She has worked in the field of mental health, both in the charity sector and for the NHS. This has included providing peer support to individuals leaving crisis care and in hospital, introducing innovative practices to support wellbeing. At Mind, she supported the delivery and evaluation for a range of projects and designed and facilitated mental health training to local organisations. At McPin Raj has worked on a range of projects include a national evaluation of community-based peer support, and a number of evaluations looking at how employment and job-seeking effects those with mental health difficulties. She has a passion for using her lived experience of mental health to further understanding of systemic and intersectional approaches to understanding mental health, particularly in the realm of stigma and discrimination. Raj holds a BSc with honours in Psychology and Anthropology and an MA in International Relations.

Raj Hazzard, Senior Researcher

John Gibson

John is a senior service user researcher, and worked on the PARTNERS2 research programme which aimed to develop better ways of supporting people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar and other psychosis within GP practices.  He joined the study in 2014 as a LEAP member, then became a service user researcher until its completion in 2021. He subsequently moved onto PARTNERS3, an implementation study across three different NHS Trusts, as well as working as a researcher-in-residence at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust evaluating the community mental health transformation programme. Prior to joining McPin, John took a BA (Hons) in Art History at the University of Manchester and an MA at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. As someone who lives with a diagnosis of bipolar, John brings over twenty years of experience to a role that emphasises the importance of lived experience of mental health problems in complementing clinical and academic approaches to mental health research. He also works as the Influence and Participation Lead at North Staffs Mind, based in Stoke-on-Trent, and serves as the lived experience panel member for the re-approval of Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs) in Staffordshire.

Rachel Temple

Rachel is a Public Involvement in Research Manager at the McPin Foundation, having joined the team as a trainee in 2017. She was previously a support worker for young people with mental health problems and learning disabilities. She currently helps manage an online peer support group for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Rachel graduated in 2016 with a BSc with honours in Psychology from the University of Kent. During her studies, she used her personal experiences to investigate the relationship between physical exercise and anxiety-related difficulties. At The McPin Foundation, she leads the McPin’s Young People Advisory Group and the wider young people’s network. She is passionate about ensuring meaningful involvement of young people in mental health research in ways that are comfortable, accessible, and engaging; regularly drawing from her social anxiety experiences when facilitating. Rachel was involved in the Right People Right Questions research, which identified the top ten unanswered research questions about young people’s mental health. She has led the young people’s involvement on several other projects including the Mental Health National Gallery Audio Tour project, mental health and screen use, and Agency & Identity for Mental Health.

Rachel Temple, Public Involvement in Research Manager

Achille Crawford

Achille Crawford joined McPin as a researcher during the summer of 2020, amidst the turbulence of Covid-19. Achille had previously worked in construction, sales, recruitment and mental health, as well as possessing a degree in sociology, and is equipped with a wide and diverse array of skills. He holds a personal interest in mental health issues driving his desire to pursue a career in research, as well as a unique opportunity to combine the skills learnt so far in a variety of workplaces. A desire to create real implementable change for individuals drives his motivation for progress as well as a genuine desire to know more and be more knowledgeable regarding social issues.

Achille Crawford, Evaluator (Trainee)
Achille Crawford, Peer Researcher and Evaluator

Davino Beckford

Davino joined McPin in May 2020 as a Community Peer Researcher as part of the Black Thrive Employment project in partnership with Black Thrive and TSIP. Having recently graduated with a BSc in Psychology, working in this role combines his passion for Black people (particularly those from the most marginalised fringes of the society) and systemic change with his growing research background as this project is about improving employment outcomes for Black people living in Lambeth.

Davino Beckford, Peer Researcher and Evaluator

Emma Garavini

Emma joined McPin in September 2021. She has a BSc in Psychology and an MSc in Forensic Psychology, and throughout her studies gained experience working with various populations such as mental health and victims of domestic violence. She has previously worked on a mental health helpline and as a mental health support worker in supported housing.

At McPin, Emma aims to expand her skills by combining her passion for research and her experience working with service users to ensure those with lived experience are meaningfully involved in mental health research. She has a keen interest in trauma-informed practice and for working with individuals who have experienced/experience psychosis, depression and eating disorders.

Emma Garavini, Trainee Youth Involvement in Research Officer

Sorcha Mahony

Sorcha has worked in social research for over 20 years, specialising in the use of qualitative and ethnographic methods to understand the lives of young people and their families living in poverty, in the UK and abroad. She is particularly interested in how macro level structures, systems and inequalities play out, and are challenged, in the microcosm of everyday life – especially within the psychological realm. 

Sorcha is passionate about the use of creative writing and storytelling in the context of social research, and has published two books drawing on this approach (Life in the Debt Trap and Searching for a Better Life). She is committed to using social research in order to try and improve policy, services and public attitudes towards groups who are marginalised or disadvantaged in some way. 

At McPin Sorcha works on research and evaluation projects exploring mental health in the context of parenting. She has a PhD in Social Anthropology and a Masters degree in Research Methods from the University of Bath, a Masters degree in International Development from SOAS, and a Bachelors degree in Combined Arts from Liverpool University. She lives in South East London with her two children and their cats, and dreams of living by the sea. 

Sorcha Mahony, Senior Peer Researcher

Dr Annabel Walsh

Annie completed her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at The University of Manchester and a Masters by Research in Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London. She then specialised in mental health research at The University of Oxford, Psychopharmacology and Emotion Research Laboratory focusing on depression, the dopamine reward system, and prediction of treatment response. She was awarded her DPhil Psychiatry in 2016 and continued this work for some time as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant. She then moved back to London as Research Information Officer for the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre at South Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London, whilst also obtaining PRINCE II project management accreditation. With her combined mental health research and project management skills, she became Senior Postdoctoral Research Project Manager for the MQ-funded Identifying Depression Early in Adolescence (IDEA) Project – an international, multidisciplinary consortium dedicated to finding new ways to identify those adolescents at risk of developing depression and improve early intervention / preventative strategies across the globe. During this role, Annie was also Team Lead for the Wellcome Trust Active Ingredients Commission 2021 focusing on a personal interest in the use of remote measurement technologies as predictive tools in depression and conducted a realist review in collaboration with the McPin Foundation Young People’s Network. With her own lived experience, Annie is a strong advocate for the involvement of experts by experience in all aspects of research, and is herself a member of several involvement initiatives, including the NIHR Maudsley BRC Feasibility and Acceptability Support Team for Researchers (FAST-R), the NIHR Mental Health Policy Research Unit Lived Experience Advisory Network (MHPRU-LEAN), and the McPin Foundation-facilitated Tailoring evidence-based psychological therapY for People with common mental disorder including Psychotic Experiences Lived Experience Advisory Panel (TYPPEX-LEAP). As such, it was meant to be and an honour to accept my current role as Senior Public Involvement in Research Facilitator for the new partnership between The McPin Foundation and University of Birmingham, Institute for Mental Health.  

Dr Annabel Walsh, Senior Public Involvement in Research Facilitator

Thai-Sha Richards

Thai-sha joined McPin in June 2020 as a Young Person co-researcher on the REACH project. Having studied psychology at GCSE and in September with be studying it as an A-level, she has a huge passion for the subject and for mental health, especially between diverse backgrounds. She intends to study psychology at university and then get a PhD. Previously she has done work experience with the REACH study at Kings College University and was part of its Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG), helping to develop research materials that young people could relate to, for example. As a young black woman from South East London, Thai-sha aims to inform people about mental health and the struggles that black and minoritised ethnic groups have to go through every day, and challenge any stigma that occurs. Other than psychology, she likes to spend time with friends and loved ones, travel to different countries to learn about other cultures, and strengthen her faith.

Thai-sha Richards, Young Person co-researcher
Thai-sha Richards, Young Person co-researcher

Alex Kenny

Alex joined McPin in August 2019 as a Peer Researcher. Previously, she sat on a Lay Peer Review panel for the Lancet Psychiatry, reviewing articles prior to publication, and was a member of the Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP) for the gameChange study. Alex has a background in research, having worked in corporate consumer market research since she graduated from university with a BA in Management and Organisational Psychology. She enjoys working on projects that have the potential to prevent or improve outcomes for people experiencing mental health problems. She currently works as a Peer Volunteer supporting adults with both physical and mental health difficulties.

Alex Kenny, PIiR Officer

Katherine Lofthouse

Katherine has spent most of the last decade creating features, blogs, tweets, podcasts – and just about anything else that could reasonably constitute content – for a range of organisations. She joined McPin as a Senior Research Communicator in April 2021.

Having worked and volunteered in sectors ranging from sex positivity to tech, social housing and homelessness, Katherine is passionate about empowering people to tell their stories. She hopes to build on this while at McPin, helping to drive positive change in mental health through both established and emerging platforms.

A woman smiling holding a slice of pizza
Katherine Lofthouse, Senior Research Communicator

JJ Buckle

JJ joined McPin in March 2021 as a Senior Digital Communications Coordinator in the research communications team.

With a background in digital communications and conservation, JJ has a particular interest in the relationship between the environment, nature and mental health, as well how habituated actions and thoughts contribute towards mental health. He is eager to learn new skills in this role, particularly focusing on media production such as podcasts and videos.

JJ Buckle, Senior Digital Communications Coordinator

Daisy Armitage

Daisy joined the McPin team in September 2021. She creates content for Mental Health Research Matters, amplifying and supporting the eight UKRI-funded mental health research networks.

Daisy developed an interest in mental health research while working as a Content Producer for MQ Mental Health Research. She’s passionate about working towards a future where mental illnesses get the same funding and attention for research as physical health problems.

Before moving into communications, Daisy worked for three years in fundraising for the charity Missing People, supporting marathons runners, community fundraisers and working on direct marketing campaigns.

Daisy Armitage, Senior Digital Communications Coordinator

Naomi Fergus

Naomi joined the McPin Foundation as an Operations Support Officer in December 2021.  She previously worked for the NHS mental health service for adolescents with Gender Identity Disorder and Autism for several years. It is during this time that she developed a professional and personal interest in the mental health service for young people living with neurodiversity. She is also a member of a community support group for parents and carers of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Naomi is a former Design and Technology teacher, working in inner London secondary schools. During her time as a teacher she advocated and delivered art and textiles workshops as a form of therapy for young people living with anxiety. Joining the operations team at McPin, Naomi hopes to support the mission and core values whilst promoting the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Naomi Fergus, Operations Support Officer

Sue Webster

I am originally from Sherwood, Nottingham, and came to do my nurse training in Scarborough by the sea, after previous holidays here. My background in nursing is in both primary and secondary care. 

This has covered acute care settings like ICU & CCU, wards, clinics, surgeries a hospice and the nurse bank.  I also completed an Integrative Counselling Theory degree last year at Coventry University in Scarborough.  I am a PPI member of Tees, Esk and Wear Valley (TEWV)  Mental Health Trust Involvement and Engagement Team, which is how I found out about the Peer Researcher position.

Having worked in many areas of nursing, I have seen how mental health has a great impact on physical health and that the two cannot be separated.  I believe that there is “no health without mental health” and now have a great interest in mental health research, particularly after having had a period of depression myself.  I have been involved in a few mental health research projects, including the MODS/BASIL research into Multi-morbidity in the Older Person with Depression and Behavioural Activation in Social Isolation. 

I have a great interest in the WHOLE-SMI study, as I am fully aware of how exercise improves mental health and have experience of this myself, being an active person. I am looking forward to this new opportunity as a Peer Researcher to investigate what helps or hinders exercise for people with SMI, how to best deliver physical health support, and also to use my lived experience in helping to make a difference and empower others. 

James Diffey

James is currently working with McPin as a part-time co-researcher on the Blueprint Project –  exploring young people’s experiences of mental health services in England and Wales. He is interested in how people can better process their emotions and experiences to the benefit of both their own mental health and society as a whole. He recently finished some research at the LSE exploring how people experience and process feelings of guilt for contributing to climate change, and he is now interning as a research assistant at Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation.

James Diffey, Co-Researcher for the Blueprint Project
James Diffey, Co-Researcher for the Blueprint Project

Rose McGowan

Rose joined the McPin team as a co-researcher on the Blueprint Project, with the aim to improve accessibility and effectiveness of mental health services for children and young people. She is currently in her final year studying Psychology at Newcastle University. As part of her degree, Rose completed a placement year working in an adult acute psychiatric hospital, which involved screening for sleep disorders, delivering Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia, and collecting data regarding the outcomes of therapy. She also works at her local hospital as a healthcare assistant, providing compassionate care to patients in all wards. Rose is passionate about mental health research and encouraging open conversations about mental health and wellbeing.

Rose McGowan, Co-Researcher for the Blueprint Project
Rose McGowan, Co-Researcher for the Blueprint Project

Jodie Crooks

Jodie joined McPin as a Young Person Co-Researcher on the Blueprint project. Having graduated with a BSc in Psychology from Newcastle University this year, she is currently studying towards an MSc in Cognitive Development and Disorders at the University of Leeds. Previously, she worked as a Research Assistant at Newcastle University, where she investigated potential barriers and facilitators to organ donation in individuals from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. She has a passion for mental health and wellbeing, especially among young people and those with developmental difficulties. By joining The McPin Foundation, Jodie aims to use her lived experiences of mental illness to contribute to meaningful research, helping to improve the mental-health experiences of others.

Jodie Crooks, Co-Researcher for the Blueprint Project
Jodie Crooks, Co-Researcher for the Blueprint Project

Bekah Carrington

Bekah has recently joined McPin as a co-researcher on the Blueprint Project, using lived experience to help in the project exploring children and young people’s experiences of mental health services. She is currently studying Psychology at the University of Southampton where her final year research project will be looking at service engagement within psychosis populations. She has previously worked as an Honorary Student Psychologist in an EIP team, particularly enjoying the opportunity to develop their support for family members. She is looking forward to working with McPin to make some positive changes for young people and their families, and to explore the ways that lived experience can be used to enrich research.

Bekah Carrington, Co-Researcher for the Blueprint Project
Bekah Carrington, Co-Researcher for the Blueprint Project

Georgia Naughton

Georgia is from Sheffield but moved to Manchester in 2015 where she completed an undergraduate degree in psychology before going on to do a Masters in research and experimental psychology. She’s really interested in the Blueprint project as it’s so important, now more than ever, that mental health services for young people are the best and most accessible they can possibly be. It’ll be great to work with a team of other like-minded people aiming to find out how this can be done for children and young people. Georgia is really passionate about mental health research and this is something she hopes to pursue in the future. In her spare time, she really enjoys cooking and baking, as well as going to the gym and really gotten into running during lockdown.

Georgia Naughton, Co-Researcher for the Blueprint Project
Georgia Naughton, Trainee Peer Researcher

Clare Walsby

Clare joined the McPin Foundation as Operations Manager in May 2019.  After training and working as a dancer, Clare has been involved in a variety of different roles in the charity and education sectors.  Her passion for using her administrative and management skills to support others was ignited by working at Hillcroft College, an educational charity for women.  There, she worked with women in a residential environment to help them overcome their fear of exams and assessment, providing them with access to additional support and enabling them to achieve their full potential.  By joining McPin, Clare hopes to use her skills to support and assist those working to increase understanding of mental health and be part of the movement towards a more open conversation on mental health and wellbeing issues.

Clare Walsby, Operations Manager