Her passion for her work in substance use stemmed from her early practice experiences with homeless people in London and New York. This passion continued into her social work education and practice in spite of the disciplinary challenges this posed. These challenges provided the impetus for her work and research which seeks to improve social work and social care responses to substance use as well as a promoting a wider understanding of social harms of substance use.
Sarah joined the University in September 2014 following six years at the Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care (TGC) at the University of Bedfordshire. She remains a registered social worker, with a background in mental health, homelessness, and substance use in both the UK and USA. She has also worked for the probation service and with women experiencing domestic abuse, as well as voluntary work in palliative care, needle exchange programmes, with people with HIV/Aids, and in substance use services. As with many academics from applied professions, Sarah started her academic career late following the completion of her PhD on Women’s Perspectives: the Role of Alcohol in Violence to Women at University of Hull in 2003. Domestic and sexual violence, and its relationship with substance use, remain a second area of passion and expertise.
‘The Fellowship is to support policy and practice impact work stemming from our current £425,000 Big Lottery Fund project. The project, focussing on End of Life Care for People with Substance Problems, is due to be completed in June 2018. This fellowship would allow us to maximise the immediate impact of the project through a partnership with a range of key organisations delivering end of life and substance use services in the statutory and charity sectors. The collaborative partnership identified is the End of Life Pathway Development Forum (EoLPDF) based in Liverpool. This is the only known group of its kind in the UK. It therefore provides an exciting partnership and test bed for the development of policy and practice in this new area of research and practice.’
The proposal is for the PI, with assistance from a Research Associate, to be located with the host, Mersey Care NHS Trust. The Trust will be the base for spending time with the various organisations that comprise the EoLPDF to develop the following outputs:
- Organisational policy development Combining our wider project findings with current good practice from the host organisation/s, existing literature and undocumented operational procedures into organisational policy for both substance use and end of life care services.
- Regional policy development Development of a broad regional policy on working with people with substance problems at the end of their lives. Translation of our findings combined with current good practice into broad regional policy guidance.
- National dissemination event and policy influence This event, jointly hosted with Mersey Care NHS Trust, would target national policy makers in the areas of substance use, palliative and end of life care, including those from the wider health and social care sectors. In addition, we would use the findings of our Rapid Evidence Assessment to produce a short evidence briefing for operational use/reference and to feed into the group’s development of training packages.’