Helen began working as a researcher with the Wales Institute of Social Economic Research Data and Methods (WISERD) in 2015. Prior to this, she worked as a researcher for Welsh Government within the Communities and Tackling Poverty Analytical Team.
She completed her doctoral studies (A Second Chance at Life: Labour, Love and Welfare on a South Wales Estate) at Cardiff University’s School of Social Science in 2011. The thesis examined the lives of a group of welfare-reliant single mothers living in the upper reaches of the South Wales Valleys as they participated in a community education project tasked with raising them out of poverty. The study charted the everyday interactions of the women with the labour market and pervasive mechanisms of street-level welfare governance, considering the linkages between a local site of investigation and the external forces that permeated it.
Her research interests include class, gender, place and social policy with a particular interest in welfare, community development and industrial relations. She is primarily a qualitative sociologist with an interest in action research and ethnographic and biographical methods. She is currently working as part of a research team examining the geographical variations of trade union membership, in terms of history, place and the patterning of ties of kith and kin. Most notably, the project explores the suggestion that in Wales, collective understandings, rooted in an earlier period of hegemonic trade unionism, are ‘spilling over’ into the contemporary period.