Research Project – Racial Equity and Progression in Social Work

The Racial Equity and Career Progression in Social Work research project will help to identify and challenge any barriers preventing social work professionals who identify as a part of Black, Asian and minoritised ethnicities from progression and work development within the NELTP partnership. We acknowledge that Black, Asian and/or minoritised ethnic people are underrepresented at most senior levels of Local Authorities and we aim to deliver meaningful and tangible change by creating lasting networks and empowering the next ethnically diverse generations of leaders.

We aim to conduct this research by highlighting how vital it is to include individual experience from any background and how this is necessary for our services to thrive and create an innovative workplace. We want to challenge racist and discriminatory practices across the social work system, ensuring that everyone can see themselves reflected among every level of the workforce. People at senior levels from various backgrounds will provide us with broader perspectives and insights into the needs and challenges faced by the social work field.


We would like invite Social Work professionals who identify as part of the Black, Asian and/or minoritised communities to join experienced Senior Lecturers in remote focus groups and/or complete 15 minutes survey to help explore potential barriers to career progression.

Focus Groups

Please choose the cohort – we would greatly appreciate it if you could commit to all 3 sessions:

● I Cohort – 9th Sep, 23rd Sep and 7th Oct
● II Cohort – 30th Sep, 14th Oct and 4th Nov


If you cannot attend, how to get involved?
Please complete an anonymous survey:

The survey will run until March 2023

If you would like to attend focus groups, we would love to hear from you, please register via the expression of interest form:

Each online focus group session has a different theme as the focal point with opportunity for attendees to reflect and respond to some exploratory questions. The first session will focus on career progression and discuss any available paths of progression in your workplace and barriers that participants face. In the second session, the group will discuss the daily prejudice and different treatment experienced by some colleagues. Finally, during the third session, entitled ‘Need for Change’, we hope to create a sustainable model and recommendations together that can be shared with the North East London Social Work Partnership board and the Department for Education.

Funder of the Research

The Department for Education (DfE) set up the Teaching Partnership Continuous Improvement fund to support small scale projects by established Teaching Partnerships that go beyond core programme activities. Teaching Partnerships were given the flexibility to propose projects that would build on employer and educator partnerships to support local workforces or improvements in initial social work education.

The research team consist members from University of East London, London Metropolitan University and Kingston University. The research project layout is supported by the principal social workers and other professionals. Their involvement cover: helping shape/review questions in the survey, feedback on focus groups’ content and help shape recommendations and findings of the final report 

Meet our Research Team

Mark Wheeler
Mark Wheeler is the Lead Researcher for this important research project. Mark is a qualified, registered social worker with over 20 years' experience in social work practice and education in the US and UK. In the UK, he has worked as a Mental Health Social Worker and Care Coordinator in London Borough of Hounslow and City of Westminster. In the United States he served as a community organizer with refugees from southern Sudan, a board governance consultant for grass roots community organizations, a case manager and clinician for homeless women, as well as develop programmes and coordinated youth community projects.
Chris Lane
Chris Lane is the Interim Head of School of Computing and Digital Media at London Metropolitan University. Chris has had previous roles at the University as a Head of Subject, Community Development, Refugee Programmes, Social Work and Youth Studies, Associate Dean and Head of Partnerships and has recent direct experience of social enterprise management. He has also been involved in providing consultancy linked to innovation and social entrepreneurship in Central Asia over the last five years as well as having been closely involved in the development of the NELTP.
Amina Adan
Dr Amina Adan is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher at Kingston University. Doctoral Research Supervisor at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Amina is a registered social worker with extensive strategic, operational and management experience of working within Local Authorities Children’s Services and CAMHS.
Catherine Schumann
Catherine Schumann primarily delivers practice education programmes in social work. Prior to being a university lecturer, she worked as a social worker, working in Adults and Children services. Catherine has also worked as a training officer delivering training on the protection of children into two Local authorities. Catherine is the course lead for practice education stage 1 and 2.
John Solas
John Solas is the Research Degrees Lead for the School of Education and Communities and Programme Leader for the Professional Doctorate in Social Work at UEL. He has held academic posts at Bradford, Keele and seven Australian Universities, including Batchelor Institute, Australia's only exclusively Indigenous Tertiary Education Institutions. John is a facilitator for the Racial Equity and Career Progression in Social Wok project and looks forward to working with you on this most important cause.


The focus group cohorts are planned to run until November-December 2022. However, the survey will be open until the end of March 2023.

After that, we will create and disseminate the report with findings/recommendations and share it with the universities’ course and placement leads, workforce development leads, senior managers within the LAs/ HEIs and with the NELTP board to work on implementing a systemic change.

For further information please contact: Anna Jakobczak, London Metropolitan University, email:, phone number: 7496876789