Making change for the better possible through robust applied research

People & Work was founded in 1984 to undertake applied research to help people cope with the economic and social impacts of the closure of heavy industry in the South Wales valleys. Since then, research and evaluation for the public and voluntary sectors has been integral to our work.

People and Work delivers a range of research services to our public and voluntary sectors clients including:

  • research to better understand people’s lives, aspirations and choices;
  • options appraisal and feasibility studies to assess the likely cost-effectiveness of projects and programmes;
  • programme and project evaluations, to explore design, implementation and impact, in order to inform practice and provide accountability; and
  • organisational reviews in order to review and improve performance now and in the future.

We offer expertise in quantitative and qualitative research and analysis, and primary and secondary research, including interviews, focus groups, surveys, systematic literature reviews and quantitative data analysis. We work throughout Wales and Europe.

Much of our work is inter-sectoral, focused upon different stages of the life course (covering childhood to old age), different policy areas (including most notably education, health and social policy), different types of organisation, policy and programme (ranging from the local to European) and different groups (including different ethnic and linguistic groups, different genders and disabled people). The golden thread running throughout our work, is our commitment to make change for the better possible.

Below are some examples of the many studies undertaken by People & Work over the last 35 years.

Recent research reports

People & Work has broadened its research remit in recent years to include work around social care, special needs, poverty and ethnicity – alongside work concerning education and communities. Much of this research is now in the public domain and available via the websites of Welsh Government, local authorities and other agencies.

Here is a selection:

Welsh Government 

A Review of the Demand, Capacity and Design of Neurodevelopmental services

A review of British Sign Language Provision in Wales

Refugees’ employment and skills support study

A review of evidence on all age mental health services

An evaluation of the CAMHS In-Reach to School programme

A review of youth work in Wales


The Building Communities Trust


Evaluation of Invest Local

 A community Response to COVID 19 


Recent European Projects include:

 European Youth Forum 

Creating Youth Workers Erasmus+ KA2 Strategic Partnership “Creating Youth Workers – the Formal Education Edition”

Bette Strategies for Youth: Youth for better Strategies

A selection of reports from our archive

People & Work has been addressing social, educational, economic and well-being issues in its research over the past 35 years. Copies of reports and evaluations are available upon request (if in the public domain). Here are three from the archives which give an idea of some of the thinking we have done with a wide range of communities and partners:

Trailblazers and learning brokers in the South Wales Valleys

This report explores the scale of the challenge facing Wales in terms of raising adult participation in learning and review some of the literature on the factors that shape the formation of negative “learner identities” (Gorard & Rees, 2002). We outline the potential role of learning brokers who can catalyse re-engagement in learning and consider three types of learning brokerage: a formal model, involving professionals, such as careers advisers, whose role includes brokering access to learning; a more informal model, where for example, friends and family encourage someone to take up a learning opportunity and a passive model, in which the success of learners inspires others to consider learning themselves.

A Brighter Future – Young People’s Transitions in the South Wales Valleys

Brynefydd (not its real name) is a small community in the South Wales Valleys. The area has suffered economic decline and in common with many other disadvantaged areas, members of the community and the schools are concerned that unless the educational attainment of young people from the community can be increased, the decline cannot be reversed.

Research in other parts of the UK has identified a strong educational and experiential gap between children and young people from disadvantaged communities, such as Brynefydd and those from more advantaged communities.


Health and social care   

Holtom, D. and Lloyd-Jones, S. (2019). Evaluation of the Integrated Autism Service and Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan: final report,

Holtom, D. and Lloyd-Jones, S. (2016). Outcome Evaluation of the Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan.

Holtom D. and Holtom and Sophocleous, C. (2016). Complex Needs, Transitions and Vulnerable Persons Market Position Statement,

Holtom, D. and Lloyd-Jones, S. with Bowen, R. and  Watkins, J.  (2013) The Costs and benefits of Transition Key Working,



Holtom, D and Bowen, R. (2016). Study to map the current educational provision of speechlanguage and communication support in Wales, for learners aged 0-25,

Holtom, D. Bowen R and Lloyd-Jones, S. (2016). Special educational needs transition from school to further learning,

Bowen, R and Holtom, D. (2015). Workforce planning of special educational needs (SEN) specialist services,

Holtom, D. and Lloyd-Jones, S, (2014). Research on the IDP Expanded Testing Phase,

Holtom, D., Lloyd-Jones, S. and Watkins, J. (2014). Evaluation of a Pilot of Young People’s Rights to Appeal and Claim to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales,

Holtom, D. with Lloyd-Jones, S (2013). Programme of Action Research to Inform the Evaluation of the Additional Learning Needs Pilots: Robust Trialling Phase,



Burrowes, E and Holtom, D. (2018). Evaluation of Communities for Work,


European Youth Policy

Holtom, D and Williamson, H. (2016). Key Issues In Developing And Implementing Youth Policy Strategic Documents,

Holtom, D., Watkins J and Siladi, S. (2016). The Social Value of Youth Organisations,


Poverty and ethnicity

Nicholl, A., Johnes, C. and Holtom, D. (2016). Breaking the links between poverty and ethnicity in Wales York: JRF,

Holtom, D, Botril, I. and Watkins, J. (2013) Ethnicity and Poverty in Wales, York: JRF,