An evaluation of the Leeds Independent Living Project which involves the move of more than 300 people living in 13 mental health or learning disability hostels into new supported living accommodation in 39 neighbourhoods across Leeds or into existing mainstream housing, between 2009 and 2011.

The research was completed by Kim Morral (née Willcock) and Caroline Paley and the Include Me In research team (2009-2012). The project was a partnership between Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds City Council’s Adult Social Care and Progress Care Housing Association. Supported by the National Lottery’s Big Lottery Fund.


The research aimed to assess the impact of the move on people’s lives and the extent to which the move affects levels of social inclusion/community integration and independence.


A participatory approach was taken with a particular focus on the participation of those directly affected by the changes brought about by the ILP. With training and support, eight ‘co-researchers’ worked alongside two professional researchers, and were involved in all aspects of the research design and implementation. A quantitative measure for assessing social inclusion was designed and administered before and after the moves, in combination with qualitative data collected from semi-structured interviews with service users, interviews and focus groups with staff and family carers. There were interviews/group discussions with 53 residents, 41 support staff, 20 managers, 17 family carers and 6 staff from other agencies involved in the planning or delivery of the ILP. Additional methods include use of photography to guide interviews, reflective diaries and art.


There was widespread satisfaction with the new accommodation shared by service users and support staff. Many residents were found to be increasingly independent and had greater choice and control over their lives. There was some indication of increased social inclusion and engagement in the community following the moves. The need for additional support to enhance independent living and social inclusion was highlighted. The research findings point to the challenges inherent in the cultural change following the move from hostel style accommodation to independent tenancies.


In additional to a full report of the research findings there was a separate executive summary, an accessible summary report, newsletters and video reports.


The research findings were presented and discussed with key stakeholders within a series of Action Learning Sets with an independent facilitator with the aim of engaging stakeholders in the process as the research progressed. In this way lessons learnt could be fed directly into practice. The research team produced two DVDs, one documenting the participatory research process and one about social inclusion and independent living. The DVDs were distributed to support staff and service users to support practice around independent living and social inclusion. There were also several presentations at seminars and conferences by the research team.


This research received two awards – the TPAS ‘Excellence in Working Together’ award from a shortlist of six at the Northern Region TPAS Awards (2013) and the LaingBuisson Independent Specialist Care Award in the Supported Living Category (2014).



Willcock, K. & Paley, C. et al (2012) Include Me In: An Evaluation of the Independent Living Project. Leeds: Progress Care Housing Association and Leeds City Council.

Journal Articles

Karban, K., Paley, C. & Willcock, K. (2013) Towards support: evaluating a move to independent living. Housing, Care and Support, 16(2), pp.85-94.

Grayson, T., Hung Tsang, Y., Jolly, D., Karban, K., Lomax, P., Midgley, C., O’ Rouke, I., Paley, C., Sinson, J., Willcock, K. & Williams, P. (2013) Include me in: user involvement in research and evaluation. Mental Health and Social Inclusion, 17(1), pp.35-42.

Karban, K., Paley, C. & Willcock, K. (2011) Who calls the tune? Participation and partnership in research. Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 15(3), pp.57-71.

Video Reports

A DVD about a participatory research project

A DVD about social inclusion