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Rhiannon Barker

R Barker

My experience of research, policy analysis and strategy spans different areas of health research and community development. I have worked in research practice and management for many years with experience of designing and managing evaluations of health care interventions, scoping studies and rapid reviews of literature. Most of my work has been based in the NHS and third sector organisations. I have significant experience of evaluation of health interventions – most involving in-depth interviews with a range of stakeholders using thematic analysis of the data to draw out key themes. I have a particular interest in young people, mental health, inequalities and end of life. 

Award Title: Mental Health Fellowship

Start Date: 1st March 2022

End Date: 31st March 2024

Location of research: Locations across England in line with wide spread gang activity 

Collaborating OrganisationSt Giles Trust, The SOS Project, Safer London.  

Project Title: Exploring the links between mental health, school exclusion and gang culture from the perspective of young people 

Brief Summary: Children and young people who suffer from poor mental health are at higher risk both of being excluded from schools and of being recruited by gangs. Gangs can have long-term negative impacts both on those directly involved and for people in the wider community. This research privileges the perspectives of young gang involved people and will use a variety of methods to explore the connections between school experience, mental health and the membership of violent gangs. 


Phase 1: Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) and scoping:  

  • Literature review;  

  • PPI: Consultation with multi-professional stakeholders to map key risk factors for gang recruitment and highlight gaps in knowledge; 

  • PPI: Consultation with stakeholders regarding how to define and access the target group for phase 2; 

  • Establish advisory group; 

  • Workshop with stakeholders to clarify proposed methods for phase 2.  

Phase 2: Qualitative research with YP using methods developed in Phase 1. 

Participatory interviews with young people, aged 11-18 who are deemed at risk of school exclusion and gang membership by associated professionals. 

Benefits anticiapted: The intention, is to provide information and materials which can be used by those setting policies, or working with young people, to ensure services are more relevant and fit better with the needs of some of the most vulnerable groups. 

Anticipated outputs: 

  • A plain English output co-produced by young people;  

  • A policy briefing paper targeted at civil servants, schools, police, youth work agencies; 

  • mental health services and related voluntary service organisations; 

  • Academic paper(s) (potentially co-produced/written with stakeholders on advisory group); 

  • A logic model providing insight into some of the interventions, contexts and mechanisms which might bring about positive outcomes for young people; 

  • Policy and practice seminars –to be identified via existing knowledge brokers.