Our staff

The team at the McPin Foundation is made up of researchers, public and patient involvement in research experts, policy professionals, and operations and project support staff. Most people work on a range of projects and we often also work alongside peer researchers supporting pieces of work as freelance 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

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 Kotecha Hazzard is a Researcher at the McPin Foundation, joining in April 2015. She has worked in the field of mental health for five years, both in the charity sector and for the NHS. She has spent the last year assisting individuals leaving crisis care as a peer support worker, introducing innovative practices to support recovery. She is an expert by experience public speaker for National Mind, sharing personal stories to challenge stigma and raise awareness of mental health to a range of audiences. She has worked extensively with Mind in Harrow, supporting the setup, delivery and evaluation of projects. She has a passion for using her lived experience of mental health to support others and now has the opportunity to use this experience to inform research being delivered at the McPin Foundation. 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, 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, Researcher

Ffion Matthews

Ffion is a regional researcher covering Wales for the Women Side by Side project. She joined the team in 2019. Having worked in communications in the environmental sector for many years, she has a particular interest in social, economic and environmental justice. She has volunteered for the surf therapy charity The Wave Project, which supports young people with mental health issues. From this and her own lived experience, she has a particular interest in the link between being outdoors in nature and wellbeing. Through her various work and volunteering, Ffion has directly supported and helped mobilize communities with local campaigns, as well as lobbying the Welsh government, pushing for nationwide policy action such as the Well-being for Future Generations Act (2015). She brings passion and a deep-rooted love and understanding of Welsh culture to McPin. Through her work as a peer researcher, she hopes to reduce stigma and improve knowledge and understanding so that women and young girls living with, or at risk of, mental health issues can be better supported.

Ffion Matthews, Regional Researcher
Ffion Matthews, Regional Researcher

Fozia Haider

After graduating with a BA (Hons) degree in Business Studies, Fozia worked in merchant banking for a short time before joining the public sector as a Research & Policy Officer, but has been a ‘stay at home’ mum for the best part of the past fifteen years. During the early years of her career break, she served as a Youth Offending Panel member in a voluntary capacity and helped run her husband’s business, but the sudden loss of the business resulted in significant financial loss and it affected her mental wellbeing. Her lived experience has taught her about the strengths we have to overcome adversity and how it is possible to rebuild our lives.  Fozia started working as a Lead Development Officer at a BAME women’s centre in January 2019, and has recently been appointed as the Centre Coordinator, where she runs the ‘Women Side by Side’ project funded by Mind and Agenda. Her work at McPin has enabled her to see other women’s projects and has allowed her to further her understanding of the multitude of issues affecting BAME women. She wants to enhance the work of mental health awareness in BAME communities by reducing the attached stigma and creating better working partnerships with the NHS, mental health charities and other support services.

Fozia Haider, Regional Researcher
Fozia Haider, Regional Researcher

Julie McWilliam

Julie is a regional researcher on the Women Side by Side project for the North-West of England region.  After leaving school, Julie worked for the Post Office and Civil Service before leaving to have a family. With young children and following the breakdown of her marriage, she attained a BA Hons degree in Urban and Health Studies. Since graduating, she has worked for over 20 years in the voluntary and community sector, focussing on community development in deprived areas of Merseyside. She has continued her professional development with an NVQ 3 in Health Service Management, a Professional Diploma in Managing in the Community and a Certificate in Project Management through the Association of Project Management. Julie has worked with service users and volunteers in health and community service development and redesign through co-production, patient and public involvement, focus groups and individual interviews. Julie has a special interest in equality, diversity, and inclusion particularly for socially and economically disadvantaged people.

Julie McWilliam, Regional Researcher
Julie McWilliam, Regional Researcher

Naima Iqbal

Naima is a regional peer researcher on the Women Side by Side project for the Midlands area. She is passionate about giving a voice to marginalised women who experience poor mental health, addiction and isolation as a consequence of abuse. Before joining McPin, Naima volunteered as a peer researcher for the organisations AVA (Against Violence and Abuse) and AGENDA (The Alliance of Women and Girls At Risk). The main focus of her research was multiple disadvantaged women from BAME communities and the barriers they faced when accessing services. She co-facilitated a report for the Hand in Hand project and has spoken to an audience of funders at the House of Lords. At the start of 2019, she wrote an article for the Huffington Post about the findings. In 2018, she was part of a group of researchers who spoke on Radio 4 Women’s Hour about their recovery journeys. Naima strongly advocates mindfulness and wellbeing skills as a means of recovery and believes in the need for ‘trauma-informed’ training when supporting women in crisis. She recently co-facilitated a learning day in Birmingham about being trauma-informed. Her lived experience and recovery skills are now enabling her to support other women. She has A-Levels in Computing and Biology and is a Qualified Support Worker, Qualified Gardener and an experienced crafter in her spare time.

Naima Iqbal, Regional Researcher
Naima Iqbal, Regional 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 Public Involvement in Research Officer and Researcher 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 hopes to challenge current perceptions of mental health problems within young people, with a special interest in Social Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and self-harm. Rachel aims to combine her practical and personal experiences of mental health in order to promote quality research. She also supports the Public Involvement in Research (PIiR) programme, by coordinating McPin’s Young People Advisory Group, the wider young people’s network and promoting public involvement and engagement in various other projects.

Rachel Temple, Public Involvement in Research Officer and Researcher

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

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

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 Specialist and Researcher allows her to combine her old world with her new. 

Jessica Bond, Communications Specialist and Researche
Jessica Bond, Communications Specialist and Researche

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