Evaluating Converge: placing students and education at the heart of improving community mental health

The Converge programme at York St John and Northumbria Universities, which gives people using mental health services in York and Newcastle access to free university courses, is embarking upon a new research project funded by the Office for Students and Research England as part of their commitment to knowledge exchange.

Converge Creative Writing

The project will explore and evaluate how Converge impacts upon its participants, the university students who support the programme, local NHS Trusts, local community and arts partners, university practice, and individual academics. Using methods such as individual and group interviews – including non-traditional approaches such as ‘walking interviews’ and object handling sessions – the project will give a voice to the different groups who experience, deliver and support Converge. We also aim to include a strong element of participant-led research in our methodology, and to develop creative events for the wider community.

Led by Senior Researcher Associate Dr Harriet Barratt, the project will work closely with the Converge Evaluation and Research Team (CERT) as well as with Converge’s core team, external partners and the wider academic community. In late autumn 2020 we will also be recruiting two Research Assistants to support the qualitative research taking place over 2021-22 – watch this space!

Harriet Barratt, Senior Research Associate

Harriet Barratt, Senior Research Associate

Harriet completed her PhD in the medical humanities at the University of Sussex in 2019, looking at people’s sensory, psychological and social experiences of material objects and environments in illness and healthcare. She has a background in skills policy, creative partnerships, and arts and health, and is interested in how we all individually perceive, relate to, and represent our physical surroundings in different forms of illness. In particular, she is looking forward to understanding how narratives like these – such as the data we expect to collect through the Converge evaluation project – reflect or shape healthcare practice and policy.



Harriet is keen to get to know the wider York St John community and to learn more about related projects and initiatives, so do get in touch with her on h.barratt@yorksj.ac.uk if you would like to explore potential overlaps.