My Marriage My Choice
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About the Team

Rachael Clawson

Rachael Clawson

Rachael Clawson is Assistant Professor in Social Work at The University of Nottingham. She has experience of researching the issue of forced marriage of people with learning disabilities and engaging with practitioner audiences on the subject.

Rachael wrote the multi-agency practice guidelines Forced Marriage and Learning Disabilities published by the Home Office/Foreign and Commonwealth Office Forced Marriage Unit in 2010 and has published academic papers on the subject. She has been actively involved in working with the Forced Marriage Unit on the issue of forced marriage of people with learning disabilities since 2009 and is a member of the FMU Partnership Board.

Rachael is a qualified social worker and prior to taking up her academic post held a range of frontline and management social work posts specialising in safeguarding disabled children and young adults from abuse.



Anne Patterson

Dr Anne Patterson

Dr Anne Patterson is an experienced researcher in the area of adult social care. Her PhD in Social Sciences focused on adults with learning disabilities and she is particularly experienced in research on sensitive issues and with potentially vulnerable groups. She was the main researcher on a project looking at abuse and poor practice in residential care and support-living services which explored perspectives and experiences of both those receiving and those providing services.

She has more recently broadened her interest to aspects of health as well as social care, particularly looking at the provision of palliative and end of life care for potentially marginalised groups. She is experienced in using both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies and has ongoing research interests in inequalities in health and social care provision in the context of potentially vulnerable and/or marginalised groups.



Rachel Fyson

Dr Rachel Fyson

Dr Rachel Fyson is an Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Social Work at The University of Nottingham. Her research interests centre on adult social care policy and practice, with a particular focus on both learning disability and adult safeguarding.

Prior to becoming an academic spent she worked for over a decade in frontline services for children and adults with learning disabilities. She has undertaken previous studies which have involved service users in exploring sensitive topics; she has experience of qualitative and mixed methods studies, including the use of vignettes in interviews.



Shefali Khan

Shefali Khan

Shefali Khan is the Forced Marriage Project Lead at Respond. Shefali has extensive experience of Domestic Abuse/honour based violence/forced marriage work in women's refuges and community settings. She is experienced in engaging different communities via campaigns, training imams and practitioners and has worked to raise the profile of forced marriage with community leaders.

Shefali is fluent in Bengali and is proficient in Hindi and Urdu, she currently works with men and women who have or may experience forced marriage and have learning disabilities providing advocacy support to them and their support networks.



Deborah Kitson

Deborah Kitson

Deborah Kitson is Chief Executive of the Ann Craft Trust, is nationally recognised as a leader in the safeguarding of people with learning disabilities. In relation to national policy development, Deborah was a member of the Department of Health Steering Group which developed the No Secrets (2000) guidelines and the Government advisory group which developed the POVA Practice Guidance; she is now a consultant for other agencies developing policies and guidelines on sexuality and the safeguarding of people with learning disabilities.

In relation to research, Deborah has overseen a number of pieces of research undertaken by the Ann Craft Trust, including projects looking at forced marriage; she has also served on various project advisory groups and has developed and published a range of practice guidance in relation to abuse prevention, as well as having co-authored a number of book chapters and academic articles on this subject; she also sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Adult Protection. Deborah continues an active role in practice through her membership of a number of Local Authority Safeguarding Adult Boards and provider organisations’ safeguarding committees.



Michelle McCarthy

Dr Michelle McCarthy

Dr Michelle McCarthy is Reader in Learning Disability at the Tizard Centre, University of Kent. She specialises in research with women with learning disabilities on topics such as sexuality, sexual abuse, reproductive health and domestic violence. Prior to taking up her academic post, she qualified as a social worker and was team leader of a specialist sex education project for people with learning disabilities. Thus, she has over 20 years' experience working with adults with learning disabilities on personal and sensitive topics.

Her research expertise lies in qualitative methods, especially interviewing, but she also has some experience with surveys. Dr McCarthy has experience of producing academic, professional and accessible materials.



Neil Day

Neil Day

Neil Day is a caseworker in the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The FMU is the Government's main delivery arm for dealing with forced marriage casework, policy and outreach. Neil joined the FMU in June 2014 and leads on Learning Disability and Immigration cases. He also deals with Consular Assistance cases overseas.

Prior to this he worked on the Canada Desk in North America Department, was Executive Assistant to the former Permanent Under-Secretary Sir Simon Fraser, and was a VIP Visits Officer at the 2012 Olympics. Neil has also served overseas in Canada and Pakistan. Before joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2007, Neil taught English overseas.



Mandy Sanghera

Mandy Sanghera

Mandy Sanghera is an international human rights activist who has spent the last 26 years supporting victims and survivors of honour-based violence and cultural abuse, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

Mandy is currently working with the European Parliament and other associated countries (Switzerland, Norway, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Albania and Turkey) on the subject of forced marriage. Mandy has been involved in many Government enquires and will also be working with the Government regarding Sharia Law in the UK.

Mandy has delivered training to the CPS, police, local authorities, and other organisations around safeguarding, cultural competency, and the ideology of cultural practices. Mandy has published articles in academic papers and international magazines on learning disabilities and forced marriage.



Suzanne Wilson

Suzanne Wilson

Suzanne Wilson has recently retired from the NHS having worked for 23 years as a Clinical Psychologist in a Community Learning Disability Service in East London, the last 10 years at a Consultant level. Suzanne worked on a substantial number of Mental Capacity Assessments concerning marriage and sexual relations and observed how the Mental Capacity Act and Forced Marriage Act are used in the legal context of the Court of Protection. Suzanne provided supervision, consultation and support to colleagues in the multi-disciplinary integrated team and co-led, with local authority colleagues, the developing team protocol and assessment pathway.

Suzanne is committed to using her experience in contributing to research, policy and practise training in the areas of assessment, case formulation and safeguarding. She also has interest in developing therapeutic interventions that help individuals and families cope with emotional experiences and stigma linked to mental capacity and marriage.



Polly Harrar

Polly Harrar

Polly has been supporting South Asian women for over 20 years. In 2008, having identified a gap in service provision for women who have been or are at risk of being disowned and who require long term support to lead a successful independent life without fear, she set up The Sharan Project. She has extensive understanding of a wide range of harmful practices faced by South Asian women and the barriers and challenges faced in seeking support.

She has a strong working knowledge of legal remedies in relation to Family Law disputes, Matrimonial Law, Child Abduction, Immigration and Court procedures. She has supported clients through High Court hearings and appeals, asylum screenings and is an expert witness in forced marriage and honour abuse cases.

Polly regularly speaks on these matters at national and local conferences, receiving referrals from solicitors, social services, police forces, medical professional and individuals. She is also a panel member for the Children's Commissioner's Inquiry looking into familial abuse, drawing upon her expert knowledge and insight of varying cultural contexts and her work with women who have been abused as children.



Nora Ellen Groce

Professor Nora Ellen Groce

Professor Nora Ellen Groce is the Chair and Director of the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre at University College London.

She is a medical anthropologist, working in global health and international development, with a particular focus on global disability research. Professor Groce has served on the faculties of Harvard and Yale before joining University College London in 2008.

She has published widely on topics related to disability and serves as an advisor for a number of UN agencies, governments, non-governmental organisations and disabled peoples organisations. She has worked and advised on issues of forced marriage among persons with disabilities as well as violence against persons with disabilities.



My Marriage My Choice

University of Nottingham
Law and Social Sciences Building
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD