Central Research Committee

The Central Research Committee (CRC) is chaired by Dr Tom Shakespeare.  The CRC is a body of experts led by disabled people from across Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.  Its membership includes representatives from academia and leaders from civil and civic society. The purpose of the Committee is to support the DRILL Programme Board (DPB), the National Advisory Groups (NAGs) and make stronger the DRILL ethic of co-production. The functions of the CRC are:

  • To provide and apply a UK-wide knowledge and perspective to DRILL;
  • To receive reports from each NAG and make the final decisions on which applications the DRILL Programme will fund;
  • To advise the DPB on aspects of the programme in which they have particular expertise;
  • To contribute to the evaluation of DRILL.

DRILL Central Research Committee Members

Professor Tom Shakespeare (Chair of the Central Research Committee)

Tom Shakespeare is a Senior Lecturer in medical sociology at Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, and has previously worked at the Universities of Sunderland, Leeds and Newcastle.  He has also worked for the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Disability and Rehabilitation Team, where he helped produce and launch key reports such as the World Report on Disability (WHO 2011) and International Perspectives on Spinal Cord Injury (WHO 2013), and was responsible for the UN statement on “forced, coerced and otherwise involuntary sterilization” (WHO 2014).  His past and present research projects include disability and sexuality; disabled childhoods; quality of life in restricted; personal assistance relationships; rights-based rehabilitation; disability and development gap; peer support workers. He is a trustee of Equal Lives and has had a long involvement with the disabled people’s movement in UK and internationally.


Dr Bronagh Byrne
Dr Bronagh Byrne is Programme Director and Lecturer in Social Policy at Queen’s University Belfast. She is co-chair of the Queen’s University’s Disability Research Network; a multi-disciplinary initiative aimed at enhancing collaboration between academics, policymakers, practitioners and community and voluntary sector organisations with an interest in disability studies and research. Bronagh’s expertise is in disability rights with a particular focus on education, transitions, and the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Her recent research includes examination of: transitions to education, employment and training, and health and social care for young deaf people and young people with learning disabilities; an assessment of shortfalls in disability policy and programme delivery in Northern Ireland; and barriers to effective Government delivery for children and young people in Northern Ireland.  Bronagh’s recent publications include ‘Getting In and Getting On? The Experiences of Young People with Visual Impairments and Hearing Impairments in Third-Level Education’(International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 2014), ‘Hidden Contradictions and Conditionality: Conceptualisations of Inclusive Education in International Law’ (Disability and Society, 2013) andReconciling Children’s Policy and Children’s Rights: Barriers to Effective Government Delivery’(International Journal of Children’s Rights, 2015). Prior to joining Queen’s University Belfast, she worked as a researcher for the Centre on Human Rights for People with Disabilities at Disability Action, Belfast.

Philomena McCrory
Philomena McCrory has been an activist in the disability movement in Northern Ireland for the past 30 years. She has worked for a number of disability organisations on projects to promote rights and opportunities for disabled people.

Over the past 20 years her work has focused on Independent Living.  In 1996 she had the opportunity to take part in a study visit to the USA to look at developments in the area of independent living including a visit to Berkeley, the home of the first Centre for Independent Living.  She was part of the group of disabled people that established Centre for Independent Living NI in 2001, and is currently employed as Director.

Professor Nick Watson
Professor Nick Watson is a Professor at the Centre for Disability Research, Glasgow University and a Director of What Works Scotland.  He has researched and written on a wide range of disability related topics including: disabled children and disability in childhood; access to education by disabled children and adults; media representation of disabled people; technologies for disabled people and ageing with a disability.  His current work for What Works Scotland, a research grouping funded by the Scottish Government and the Economic and Social Research Council, is focused on reforming public services and promoting the development of evidence based practice.

Professor Paul Chaney
Paul Chaney is Professor of Politics & Policy at Cardiff University School of Social Sciences – and Co-Director of Wales Institute of Social, Economic Research and Data (WISERD). He has published 60+ papers in leading academic journals on political representation, public policy and governance. His books include: New Governance: New Democracy (2001, Cardiff, UWP); Women, Politics and Constitutional Change (2007, Cardiff, University of Wales Press, ISBN: 0708318959, co-authored); and Equality and Public Policy (2011, Cardiff, UWP, ISBN-13: 978-0708323267).

Stephen Harris
Stephen is the Chief Executive of the Dewis Centre for Independent Living – a disabled people’s organisation based in South Wales but with smaller offices in other parts of Wales where they provide services such as direct payments support services and advocacy services, amongst other initiatives. Stephen is a disabled person and leads the organisation which has 46 staff. Dewis Centre for Independent Living has a high percentage of disabled people (26%) as staff members.  In his earlier career Stephen was a school teacher. This abruptly ended when he became disabled.  Stephen has been a tetraplegic for over 33 years and it was his own impairment which led him into his present area of work.  Stephen has worked in this field for 20 years. In 2011 he completed a Masters Degree in Community Care Law in Cardiff Law School.  As a consequence of his work and role, Stephen is frequently invited to contribute to and sit on various steering groups, stakeholder groups (succession planning post ILF in Wales) and technical groups such as those which contributed to codes of practice for forthcoming social care legislation.  Stephen is passionate about the rights of disabled people to be participants, contributors, beneficiaries and fully inclusive members of our communities.

Mike Adams
Mike is CEO of the Essex Coalition of Disabled People – ecdp, an Essex-based disability organisation which is run by disabled people for disabled people.  At a local level Mike is Chair of Healthwatch Essex – a role which actively promotes the voice of the user. At a national level, Mike was Chair of the Access to Work Expert Advisory Panel which reported to government in January 2013.  Mike is also a non-executive director of a UK-wide private care sector company involved in the delivery of social care. Mike has previously been one of the senior management team at the Disability Rights Commission, Director of the National Disability Team for higher education and co-director of a disability research centre at Coventry University.  Mike was awarded an OBE in 2012 for services to disabled people.

Professor Eric Emerson
Eric Emerson is an Emeritus Professor of Disability and Health Research in the Centre for Disability Research at Lancaster University and Professor of Disability Population Health at the Centre for Disability Research and Policy, University of Sydney. He is also the Vice-President of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Development Disabilities (IASSIDD), the global community of research centres and researchers working in the area of intellectual and developmental disability, with responsibility for managing their work programme with the World Health Organization. He was founding Co-Director of the specialist Public Health Observatory on learning disability (now incorporated into Public Health England). His research focuses on better understanding the determinants of the health and social inequalities experienced by disabled people. His research interests have a particular focus on estimating the influence of social determinants of health (e.g., poverty, social exclusion, discrimination) on the wellbeing of young people with disabilities and people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. One output of this work is the identification of potential approaches for reducing the health inequities experienced by disabled people.

Liz Sayce
Liz Sayce was Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK (and its legacy charity Radar) from 2007-2017, where she led work for equal participation for all, through programmes on independent living, career opportunities and shifts in cultural attitudes and behaviour. Liz is a member of the Committee of Healthwatch England and the Social Security Advisory Committee. With a background in mental health and disability policy, previous roles include Director of Policy and Communications at the Disability Rights Commission, where she led formal investigations and a new ‘Disability Agenda’; and Policy Director of Mind. She led an Independent Review into disability employment programmes for Government in 2011 and has published widely on mental health, disability and social participation. She undertook a Harkness Fellowship in the USA resulting in a book (From Psychiatric Patient to Citizen, 2000 – updated in 2016), was awarded an OBE in 2009 and an honorary doctorate from the University of Kent in 2014.

The Central Research Committee meet two times per year.