Our staff

The team at the McPin Foundation is made up of researchers, involvement in research experts, and operations and communications staff. Most people work on a range of projects and we often also work alongside freelance peer researchers or peer involvement specialists. The majority of staff are based at our office in London.

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

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

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

Jennie Parker

Jennie Parker joined the McPin Foundation in 2017 as a Senior Researcher.  She previously worked for Emergence Plus CIC as a lived experience researcher and Project Co-ordinator, focusing on research and evaluation within the NHS and HMPPS.  Jennie has also been a KUF trainer since 2014 and continues to co-facilitate the Knowledge and Understanding Framework training (working effectively with personality disorder).  Her research interests lie primarily in personality disorder, where she is also involved in research with external institutions as co-applicant on RfPB studies.  Co-design and co-production of both research and services underlie her approach to her work and this extends to how services can better help those with both mental and physical health needs.  Jennie has a BA in English and Sociology, a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and an MSc in Clinical Neuroscience.  The impact of diagnosis and how this is both delivered and perceived are also areas that influence much of her current work.

Jennie Parker, Senior Researcher

Rajvi Kotecha-Hazzard

Rajvi is a researcher and has worked at the McPin Foundation since April 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 in Harrow, she supported the delivery and evaluation for a range of projects and designed and facilitated mental health training to local organisations. At McPin Rajvi 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 especially to challenge stigma and discrimination. Rajvi holds a BSc with honours in Psychology and Anthropology from Brunel University, and an MA in International Relations from the University of Nottingham.

Rajvi Kotecha-Hazzard, Senior Researcher

Humma Andleeb

Humma is a Researcher at McPin, having joined the team in September 2017. She has a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry and Neuroscience and has previously been involved in volunteer roles empowering communities by raising mental health awareness. She is a keen blog writer and book reader and has previously spoken publically at events about her lived experience as a South Asian woman. Humma is passionate about improving diversity within mental health research and making opportunities accessible for people from disadvantaged backgrounds and marginalised communities. She is particularly interested in bridging the gap and building relationships between researchers/academics and groups who are overrepresented in mental health services but underrepresented in mental health research. Humma hopes to impact and progress mental health research by combining and applying her academic knowledge, research interests and lived experience to current and future research at McPin.

Humma Andleeb, Senior Researcher

Laura E. Fischer

Laura E. Fischer is a Researcher, Mental Health Activist, and Artist who specialises in trauma. She has focused both her undergraduate studies in the arts and her postgraduate studies in psychiatry on developing novel interventions to respond to trauma. She was awarded for her work the Improvement Leader Fellowship by NIHR CLAHRC NWL and then an Honorary Research Fellowship. Laura is also an active advocate for the inclusion of lived experience in research agendas and public discourse. She regularly works with trauma survivors and has herself been public about her own experience of trauma. She has spoken at several conferences and TEDx, has written for books, and has had her artwork and films exhibited internationally since 2005. She is also a Visiting Lecturer at several universities including UCL and Central Saint Martins. Laura joined the McPin Foundation because she was enthusiastic to find an organisation that shares her beliefs and values. The primary focus of her role is coordinating public involvement across the Public Mental Health research programme for England under the NIHR School for Public Health Research. Starting in 2020, Laura has also agreed to serve on the Editorial Advisory Board of The Lancet Psychiatry.

Laura E. Fischer, Public Involvement Coordinator and Researcher
Laura E. Fischer, Public Involvement Coordinator and Researcher

John Gibson

John works on the PARTNERS2 research programme, which aims to develop better ways of supporting people with severe mental illness within GP practices. He joined McPin as the Service User Researcher on the programme in August 2015 and is based at the University of Birmingham. Following an MA at the Courtauld Institute of Art, John served as Chair of North Staffs Voice, a user-led organisation that worked for improvements in mental health services. As someone who lives with a diagnosis of bipolar, John’s involvement with the third sector continues to this day as head of client and user engagement at North Staffs Mind. In PARTNERS2, John brings twenty years of experience to a role that emphasises the importance of personal experience of mental health problems in complementing clinical and academic approaches to mental health research. He also serves as Chair of the Study Steering Committee for the EDITION Study at the University of Manchester, and is a panel member for the selection and re-approval of Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs) in Staffordshire.

John Gibson, PARTNERS2 Service User Research Associate
John Gibson, PARTNERS2 Service User Research Associate

Rachel Temple

Rachel is a Senior Public Involvement & Research Officer at the McPin Foundation, having joined the team as a trainee in 2017. She previously worked for organisations such as Priory Group and MCCH, supporting young people with mental health difficulties 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 supports the Public Involvement in Research (PIiR) programme by leading the McPin’s Young People Advisory Group and the wider young people’s network. She also leads the public involvement in various other projects, such as the Virtual Reality for OCD and Hearing Voices work. As well as this, Rachel works as researcher on the Open Space project. This is a library-based wellbeing intervention in the Suffolk community. She was also involved in the Right People Right Questions research, which identified the top ten unanswered research questions about young people’s mental health. During her McPin journey, Rachel aims to apply her personal experiences to help challenge current perceptions of mental health problems within young people. She has a special interest in Social Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and self-harm.

Rachel Temple, Senior Public Involvement and Research Officer

Anja Hollowell

Anja joined McPin in May 2019 as a Public Involvement in Research Officer. At McPin, she supports the Public Involvement team and their activities with various projects including gameChange, Mental Health and Justice, and the Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG). She also administers the McPin peer review panel. Whilst completing a BSc in Natural Sciences at Lancaster University she developed an interest in psychology and neuroscience, which led her to complete a Psychology Qualifying Certificate at Oxford Brookes University and then an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology at Birkbeck, University of London. For her MSc project at Birkbeck, she investigated the relationship between non-clinical psychotic experiences and cognitive biases in adolescents. Having worked in research environments whilst studying, Anja has seen the importance of involving service users in research. Whilst studying for her MSc, she worked as an IT assistant in a research unit at the University of Oxford where she became involved in their public engagement work. Working at McPin combines her interests in both mental health research and involving the public.

Anja Hollowell, Public Involvement in Research Officer
Anja Hollowell, Public Involvement in Research Officer

Oli Jones

Oli Joined McPin in February 2020 as a Public Involvement Officer and Peer Researcher. Starting work with McPin in 2019 as a contractor, he contributed as a Peer Researcher to phase one of the NIHR Public Mental Health Research programme. His current role entails promoting and encouraging Youth involvement in mental health research projects, such as early intervention studies for psychosis. As a part-time lead in a digital inclusion project at South London and Maudsley (SLAM) NHS trust, he aims to tie research with practical training and opportunities for people and their communities. Oli graduated from Leeds University with a BSc in Human Life Sciences and has a special interest in neuroscience and contemporary debate topics in psychiatry.

Oli Jones, Public Involvement Officer and Peer Researcher
Oli Jones, Public Involvement Officer and Peer Researcher

Faith Amasowomwan

Faith is a Trainee Peer Researcher and PPI Officer who joined McPin in 2020. Although her academic background is in Biomedical Science, she has always had a passion for mental health. She has worked and volunteered with people from all walks of life. This has included supporting people with learning disabilities and mental health issues in many settings such as care homes, supported living residences and NHS services. She most recently worked in a mental health forensic hospital where she was involved in patient rehabilitation and occupational therapy. She gained a lot of insight into how people are affected by, and the stigmas relating to, not only having mental health issues but also a forensic history. As a black woman from South East London with lived experience of mental health, she is passionate about helping her community and being able to provide her perspective in mental health research. Alongside her career, Faith also enjoys travelling (often solo), life art sketching and nutrition.

Faith Amasowomwan, Trainee Resercher
Faith Amasowomwan, Trainee Peer Researcher and PPI Officer

Jessica Bond

Jessica joined McPin in August 2018. After a BSc in Physics, she worked as a science journalist and editor for eight years before completing an MSc in Psychology in 2017. Since studying she has worked as a freelance writer, researcher and communications consultant, often but not exclusively in the mental health sector, where she continues to volunteer. Her role as Communications Manager and Researcher allows her to combine her old world with her new. 

Jessica Bond, Communications Specialist and Researche
Jessica Bond, Communications Manager and Researcher

Zoë Catchpole

Zoë joined McPin in 2019 as Peer Impact and Engagement Officer for the UK Research and Innovation-funded Mental Health Networks. She is part of a coordination team from the University of Oxford, Mental Elf and Sixth Sense Media. The team has been brought together to maximise the value of the networks by facilitating inter-network collaboration, an open-science culture, and the bringing together of researchers from a wide range of disciplines including those working in community organisations and charities. The value of involvement of early career researchers, expertise from lived experience of mental health problems and a collaborative ethos are key principles within the networks that Zoë is passionate about, having previously used her own lived experience to contribute to research. Before joining McPin, Zoë completed an integrated MSc. in Biochemistry at the University of Oxford. Inspired by her interest in sleep-circadian rhythm disruption and mental health problems, her research project was on the mechanisms by which lithium affects cellular circadian rhythms.

Zoe Catchpole, Peer Impact and Engagement Officer
Zoe Catchpole, Peer Impact and Engagement Officer

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

Dr Kathryn Watson

Kathryn is a researcher, artist and former medical doctor, who has been working as a Communications Officer at McPin since 2019. She studied Medicine and completed an Intercalated BSc and PhD at Imperial College London. Since 2017, she has focussed her career exclusively within the mental health sector. Her areas of particular interest include personality disorder and graphic medicine. Alongside working at McPin, she produces autobiographical illustrations and is using these to create a mental health resource (see She also conducts mental health research with Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, designs and teaches workshops and does illustration commission work.

Kathryn Watson, Communications Officer
Kathryn Watson, Communications Officer

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.

Gary Coyle

Gary has worked at McPin as a Survivor Researcher since 2015, having lived with mental ill-health since his early twenties. He has a degree in Education and an MA in Creative Writing. Gary worked as a creative writing facilitator for South London and Maudsley NHS Trust before joining the McPin team to work on the My Story, Our Future project. He has since been involved with several other research projects. He says: “It is great to be able to give something back to the mental health system.

Gary Coyle, Survivor Researcher
Gary Coyle, Survivor 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
Clare Walsby, Operations Manager

Odette Gardiner

Odette joined the McPin foundation as Administrator in February 2018. Her role involves general administrative duties and office support to ensure smooth running of the office. Odette has completed a two year PA course which has provided her with the relevant skills to support the whole team. Before joining McPin Odette has worked for Greenpeace and volunteered in an Indonesia wildlife rescue centre. After experiencing mental health through personal experiences Odette wanted to join McPin to gain a better understanding of the research that is being developed for mental health and the different ways it can be tackled.

Odette Gardiner, Administrator