The Team

Dr Anita Mehay

Co-Lead & Senior Research Associate & Health Psychologist

I am a researcher at UCL with a background in Psychology, where I am also a Health Psychologist. Much of my work focuses on health and wellbeing during early-years and young adulthood and focuses on better support for families – particularly those from economically deprived and minority ethnic groups. This has included developing and evaluating a group-based model of midwifery care for women from deprived and diverse areas (called Pregnancy Circles) and developing inclusive and authentic health promotion activities with young men in prison


More recently, I have been involved in the Together study which is a large national trial of a parenting programme developed by the Race Equality Foundation. I am interested in research which leads to real-world impact so my work is always applied and always takes a co-production approach through working closely with third sector organisations and those with lived expertise/experience. 

Professor Richard Watt

Co-Lead & Professor of Public Health

I am a Professor of Dental Public Health in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL and Director of Research for Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust. I graduated in dentistry from the University of Edinburgh in 1984 and proceeded to study for an MSc and PhD in Dental Public Health at the University of London.

I lead the £1.5 million NIHR-funded randomised controlled trial of the Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities programme which was developed by the Race Equality Foundation. My research has focused on the social determinants of oral health inequalities and the development and evaluation of health improvement interventions. In 2014 I was awarded the International Association for Dental Research Distinguished Scientist Award for Behavioural, Epidemiological and Health Services Research and in 2016 the NIHR Senior Investigator Award. I have sat on a variety of expert working groups for the Department of Health, Public Health England, National Institute for Clinical Excellence, WHO and E.U. I am co-author of Essential Dental Public Health and have published more than 250 publications.


Jabeer Butt OBE

CEO of the Race Equality Foundation

I am the Chief Executive of the Race Equality Foundation. I have an international reputation for the use of evidence in developing interventions that help overcome discrimination and disadvantage. I provide leadership on the Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities parent education initiative at the Race Equality Foundation. A key part of this work is the Foundation’s role in the Health and Wellbeing Alliance, which has seen the Foundation facilitate better conversations between the black and minority ethnic-led voluntary sector and Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and Public Health England and saw us secure £485,000 grant from DHSC to support older people living with dementia as part of the emergency response to COVID.

I am currently a co-investigator on the trial of the Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities programme, led by Professor Richard Watt. I am also a co-investigator on the £1.3 million NIHR funded extension of the VirusWatch study focusing in COVID-19 and the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and migrant communities, led by Professor Robert Aldridge of University College London. I was awarded an OBE in the 2013 Queen’s New Year Honours List.

Leandra Box

Programme Manager at Race Equality Foundation

I am the Programme Manager of the Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities programme at the Race Equality Foundation. I worked jointly with Jabeer Butt in the development of the programme for Black and minority ethnic communities in the UK, and have taken forward its establishment as a widely used programme. I have led the team in developing materials for work around gang and knife crime, learning disabilities, and sexual and reproductive health. I also oversee the monitoring of quality assurance and programme fidelity.

Dr Lucy Baldwin

Senior Lecturer in Community and Criminal Justice

I am a Senior Lecturer/Researcher in Criminology at De Montfort University, and I'm also a qualified and experienced social worker and probation officer. I have over 35 years of experience in criminal and social justice settings. My research is usually centred around mothers and motherhood in and after prison. My work explores the impact of criminalisation on maternal identity, emotion and experience and highlights the importance of recognizing maternal trauma and its relevance to women’s' experiences of criminal justice.

I provided oral and written evidence to the female focused Farmer Review and to the Joint Human Rights Inquiry into maternal sentencing and the Rights of the Child. I am passionate about positive change for criminalised mothers and mothers in the criminal justice system. My research and work have informed policy and practice change across the public, private and voluntary sectors and I continue to work closely with all. I have also designed and delivered personal development programmes for mothers, staff training for criminal justice practitioners, and written guidance for working with mothers in the CJS.

Dr Laura Abbott

Senior Lecturer in Midwifery

I qualified as a Nurse in 1993 and a Midwife in 2000. I am now a Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Midwifery at The University of Hertfordshire, a Senior Fellow of The Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal College of Midwives. My doctorate examined the experiences of pregnant women in prison: The Incarcerated Pregnancy: An Ethnographic Study of Perinatal Women in English Prisons. 

I volunteer with the charity Birth Companions and co-authored The Birth Charter for pregnant women in England and Wales published by Birth Companions in May 2016. I contributed to the review of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Services operational policy for prison staff managing and caring for all women experiencing pregnancy, Mother and Baby Units (MBUs), and maternal separation in prison. More recently I co-founded Pregnancy in Prison Partnership International (PIPPI) with academics in Australia, New Zealand and the USA and the UK wide Prison Midwives Action Group (PMAG).

Soraya Gayle_edited.jpg

Soraya Gayle

Research Assistant

I am a Research Assistant with an interest in social injustice. From 2011-14, I completed a BSc in Sociology and History. For my dissertation, I conducted a case study titled “A critical analysis of the acceptance and disapproval of the different forms of sexuality and marriage”. This was inspired by the Marriage ‘Same Sex Couples’ Act 2013 and the backlash the LGBTQ+ community faced as a result. From 2016-17, I completed a MSc in Research Methods. This dissertation titled, “The social attitudes study into homelessness” aimed to determine if socio-demographic and/or attitudinal variables influenced an individual’s attitudes towards the homeless. 

As I transitioned from academia into a professional career, it was important that my work aligned with my core values and enabled me to work with marginalised groups. As such I pursued a career within HMPPS working with young offenders. From 2018-22 I worked at HMPYOI Pentonville as an Analyst for a bespoke young offender intervention programme called Time4Change. A fundamental element of the programme is to provide young men with a safe space to share their experiences and opinions on a range of impactful topics, such as Systemic Racism, Stop & Search, Grooming/Negative Influencing and Fatherhood etc.

Laveal Coore

Expert by Experience

I am involved in the Fathers Together study as an expert by experience. I was brought up in a single-parent household and was shy and respectful but from the age of 11 years old, I started getting into trouble and ended up spending some time in prison as a young person. I am now a bit older and keen to support other young men who are at-risk of or in prison. This is my first role as part of a research study. 


Karlet Manning

Expert by Experience

I am a Senior Assessment Coordinator for IAPT services at The Big Life Group - Self Help Services where I am interested in mental health and youth work. I was involved in the creation of a registered charity called G.R.E.A.T (Grass Root Educational Academy for Transformation), supporting African & Caribbean families, particularly with children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) or Educational Health Care Plans (EHCP). I am also involved in the Together Study and broader work at the Race Equality Foundation.