Who We Are
Mercian Research Associates (MRA) is a research and evaluation consultancy, with particular experience in voluntary sector and community based projects, children's services, substance misuse and equalities and diversity.
We have a flexible, client-centred approach, working in partnership with other consultants to consolidate necessary skills for particular research and evaluation projects.
MRA is owned by Deborah Sambor MSc. From 2001 to 2003 she was employed as the senior researcher by We Research It Ltd (WRI) and formed Mercian Research Associates in 2003. She has associates from many backgrounds, allowing her to draw upon an array of expertise for a wide range of research topics.
Deborah plans and leads projects alone, works with associates or as part of other teams as appropriate on specialist elements of research or evaluation.
Deborah has a BSc Hons in Psychology and a MSc in Social Science Research Methods, a Certificate in Counselling (Drugs and Alcohol) and a Diploma in Hypnotherapy. For the last 9 years she has concentrated on the field of social research and evaluation, and currently also works at an operational level supporting drug and alcohol users for a voluntary sector organisation. She also offers training and support in accounts systems and recording for people setting up small businesses.
Deborah has fifteen years experience in accountancy and audit roles for the statutory, voluntary and private sectors. Seven years of this was spent as a trustee and treasurer at branch and regional level for a large national charity.
Audit, monitoring and financial management experience provides real-world knowledge invaluable in making informed recommendations. Deborah's background of working in the public, private and voluntary sectors gives hands-on grounding in diverse research topics and partnership working.
She served four years (2005-2008) as a UK Evaluation Society (UKES) council member and five years as the lead organiser for the Midlands UKES network.
Deborah has been involved in a large number of research and evaluation projects. For simplicity, a few examples are set out here under specific headings. Research experience is not limited to these topics.
Equalities and Diversity
- Equality Impact Assessments for Leicestershire Community Projects Trust in 2009.
- Research into information channels and resources used to find childcare and parenting information for parents and carers of BME origin and/or children who have a special need or disability for Staffordshire County Council, with We Research It in 2009.
- Equality Impact Assessments for Stafford Borough Council with We Research It in 2008-9.
- Evaluation of the Radio LARA Trans-European language promotion project in 2008.
- Equality Impact Assessment of Staffordshire County Council Early Years and Childcare Services, with WRI in 2007.
- Assessing the need for drug and alcohol services within Staffordshire's black and minority ethnic communities for Staffordshire Drug Action Team, for WRI in 2002.
- Assisting with research on behalf of Arts and Humanities Research Board and East Midlands Arts for "Towards a Cultural Strategy for Working with Refugees and Persons Seeking Asylum in the East Midlands", for WRI in 2001.
Education and Children's Services
- Research into the formal childcare needs of parents and carers with a disabled child or children for Staffordshire Aiming High in 2011.
- Two year research project for Staffordshire County Council to explore ways to promote more effective partnership working which will encourage non-engaging families to access 0-7 services within areas of social and economic disadvantage in the Cannock and Rugeley localities, with WRI, 2009-2011.
- Research into the range and impact of services offering Family Support and Parental Outreach services in Phase 1, 2 and 3 Children's Centres in Staffordshire, for Staffordshire County Council with WRI in 2009.
- Baseline research into why some of the poorest families do not engage with services, for Staffordshire's 0-7 Partnership Project with WRI in 2009.
- Evaluation of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) Enterprise Education Pilot in schools in Birmingham, Cornwall and Liverpool in 2008-9.
- Evaluating the Effectiveness of Staffordshire Early Years and Childcare Service Communications and Developing a Communication Strategy for the Service, with specialist input from KAPA Training and Evaluation in 2007.
- Research into childminding for Staffordshire Early Years Unit, with WRI in 2007.
- Research into Perceptions of Seaforth Children's Centre Internally (Staff and Professionals) and Externally (Local Community and Parents) and Partnership Effectiveness Evaluation in 2006.
- Local evaluations for four Sure Start programmes in the West Midlands, looking at the effectiveness of partnership working and parental involvement. These projects were carried out in partnership with WRI in 2003 and 2004.
Health and Substance Misuse
- Researching dementia services for Staffordshire LINk with WRI in 2010.
- Models of Care Service User Consultation (Dudley) on behalf of Drugscope, including data collection, analysis and report writing, with WRI in 2003.
- Qualitative and quantitative data analysis and report writing for Models of Care Service User Consultation (Bradford) on behalf of Drugscope in 2003.
- Evaluating complementary therapy project at ADSIS (Alcohol and Drug Services in Staffordshire) in 2002.
- Assistance with completing dataset, needs assessment and young people's substance misuse plans for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Drug Action Teams, for WRI in 2001 and 2002.
- Evaluation of Futures Unlocked community chaplaincy project in 2011.
- Evaluation of the national advocacy support project for the Beth Johnson Foundation with WRI in 2010.
- Research for Walsall Voluntary Action and the Walsall Community Empowerment Network to develop a profile of the voluntary and community sector in Walsall, showing its potential for contributing towards community regeneration, development and cohesion within the borough as a whole. This information was used to create a plan for developing the capacity of the sector's organisations to meet their potential. With WRI in 2004.
- Assisting with research for Regional Action West Midlands, Advantage West Midlands and the Countryside Agency into the continuing impact of the foot and mouth crisis on the voluntary and community sector in the region, for WRI in 2003.
- Analysis of unwanted companion animals at an RSPCA animal home, a study of the problem and its potential solutions in 2000. Undertook a comprehensive International Literature Search of these issues.
For any enquiries, please contact Deborah Sambor:
Tel: 0775 3696996