Mencap's External Advisory Forum (EAF) is a group of respected individuals in the field of learning disability .

The group meet regularly and use their many years of experience to provide Mencap with independent guidance on issues such as policy, activities and research.

Professor Richard Hastings - Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research, University of Warwick

Man wearing white shirt, Professor Richard Hastings


Richard is a researcher in the field of learning disability and autism .

He is an Editor for the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, and the Cerebra Chair of Family Research in the Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research at the University of Warwick.

Andrew Holmes-Smith - Social Care Consultant

Man with grey hair and glasses, wearing light blue shirt; Andrew Holmes-Smith


Andrew's career started in a day service, during the 1980s he was the director of an innovative and respected supported living service.

Andrew then became a care consultant in 1991, with a particular interest in strategy , quality managements and performance management. He has recently retired.

Dr Katrina Scior - Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research, University College London

Woman with dark hair wearing black top; Dr Katrina Scior


Katrina is a Senior Lecturer in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College London (UCL), and is a founding member of UCL's multi-disciplinary Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research (CIDDR). 

Katrina is a clinical psychologist by background. Her research focuses on attitudes to children and adults with learning disabilities and the development of effective strategies to improve them. She is particularly interested in the global dimension of attitudes to learning disability and cultural and religious aspects and to this effect is working with colleagues, self-advocates and parents in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Professor Roy McConkey - Institute of Nursing and Health Research, University of Ulster

Man wearing striped jumper whilst smiling; Professor Ron McConkey


Roy is Emeritus Professor of Developmental Disabilities at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland.

Roy is a psychologist by training and a native of Belfast; he has previously held posts in England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.

He is currently visiting professor at the University of Cape Town, the University of Sydney and at Trinity College, Dublin. His work as a consultant to various United Nations agencies and International NGOs has taken him to over 20 countries in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.

Dr Steve Beyer - Welsh Centre for Learning Disabilities, Cardiff University

Man with grey hair and glasses, wearing a light shirt and black cardigan; Dr Steve Beyer


Steve is a Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University and has been a researcher in the area of learning disability and services for over 30 years. 

He is particularly interested in the area of supported employment , and improving the options for young people when they leave school.

Professor Bryony Beresford - Social Policy Research Unit, University of York

Woman with short hair and glasses; Professor Bryony Beresford


Bryony currently works as part of the Social Policy Research unit at the University of York, and is responsible for the Children and Families Team research programme.

She currently holds a number of Social Policy Advisory positions and her research interests include; children's experiences of illness and disability, service provision and multi-agency working and disabled or chronically ill children and adolescents and their families.

Linda Redford - Mencap trustee, specialist tribunal member, consultant

Woman with short hair wearing a dark jumper. Linda Redford.


Linda Redford is a trustee of Royal Mencap Society and also of the National Association of Special Educational Needs (NASEN). She is a specialist member of the SEN and Disability Care Standards and Upper Tribunals. 

She is a former teacher, local authority officer and advisor/ manager in the voluntary and community sector.

Professor Brahm Norwich - Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter

Man with grey hair and spectacles, wearing a light blue shirt. Professor Brahm Norwich.


Brahm is Professor of Educational Psychology and Special Educational Needs at the Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter. 

He has worked as a teacher, a professional educational and psychologist and researched and published widely in these fields.

Professor Juliet Goldbart - Research Institute for Health and Social Change, Manchester Metropolitan University

Smiling woman with short dark hair. Professor Juliet Goldbart.


Juliet is a developmental psychologist by background, but has worked primarily with allied health professionals (speech and language therapists and now also physiotherapists) for over 30 years.

She has a passionate interest in the development and enhancement of communication, particularly with people with very complex needs. 

Juliet is also very committed to the design of relevant services for families, both in the UK and in under-served countries. She has a long-standing collaboration with the Indian Institute for Cerebral Palsy in Kolkata and, more recently, has worked on a project to support the first speech and language therapy programme in East Africa.  

Professor Ruth Norway - Faculty of Life Sciences and Education, University of South Wales

Woman with brown hair and floral top. Professor Ruth Norway.

Ruth is a professor or learning disability at the University of South Wales, having previously worked as a learning disability nurse in a range of residential and community settings.

She is Editor of the Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, co-chairs the Welsh Government Learning Disability Advisory Group, and leads the Unit for Development in Intellectual Disabilities (UDID) at the University of South Wales.

Ashwin Kumar

Man with dark hair and glasses wearing a pink shirt and dark suit jacket. Ashwin Kumar.


Ashwin Kumar is the Director of Liverpool Economics, Vice-Chair of the homelessness charity, Broadway, and a board member of the National Housing Federation. He is also a keen photographer, an FA-qualified referee and a Labour Party activist .

Ashwin has worked as an economic advisor to Gordon Brown, as Rail Passenger Director at Passenger Focus, the consumer watchdog for rail and bus passengers, and as a Senior Economic Advisor at the Department for Work and Pensions .

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