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FSB Awards 2023 – Freelancer of the year Scotland finalist!

January 31, 2023

I was very excited this evening to find out that I’m a Scotland finalist in the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards 2023, for the category Freelancer of the year.



LINK: YTAS sector review

March 29, 2021

I am pleased to let you know that one of my clients has published some research we worked on together in the autumn.

YTAS (Youth Theatre Arts Scotland) and I conducted a review of the youth theatre sector in Scotland, which was a follow up to a similar project we ran in 2015 to see how things had changed. YTAS have turned this into a shiny infographic so do check this out.

We also ran a survey about the impact of Covid-19 on the youth theatre sector, and another one about the use of equality, diversity and inclusion data in the sector, and they can be accessed following the link too.

If you would like to find out more about this project, please visit the following link.

Always a pleasure to work with YTAS.

LINK: Let’s do Peer2Peer

February 10, 2021

I am pleased to let you know about a new resource produced by Scottish Recovery Network called Let’s do Peer2Peer.  This resource shares learning from people already delivering the Peer2Peer peer support training course, as well as providing hints, tips, and example approaches for people who want to run their own Peer2Peer course.

I was very happy to contribute to this helpful document by conducting a series of depth interviews with people already delivering Peer2Peer, which forms the basis for the content of the resource.

If you would like to find out more about Let’s do Peer2Peer, please visit the following link.

LINK: Vision and strategy for mental health recovery in Scotland

February 3, 2021

During summer and autumn 2020 Scottish Recovery Network delivered a large scale programme of engagement to gather views on the vision and strategy for mental health recovery in Scotland.

I was delighted to be involved in planning and analysing this programme of engagement, including conducting a survey with 335 stakeholders, plus assisting with discussion events and reporting.

If you would like to read about this process along with summary and full reports detailing the resulting vision for mental health recovery and action points, please visit the following link.

LINK: Meaningful connections

January 28, 2021

Oh my word are we still having a pandemic?  I’ve been away from blogging for nearly a year, basically because old Covid has got in the way.

But one of my lovely clients Scottish Recovery Network has recently published a few of the things I have been working on with them, so I’m going to post those up over the coming weeks.

The first one is Meaningful Connections, a report based on a programme of research that we conducted in summer 2020 about the innovative and responsive way that wellbeing support adapted and was provided remotely during lockdown.

As well as hosting two sold-out learning events about these findings, we have had lots of media interest with coverage in Third Force News, Holyrood Daily, and

If you would like to find out more about the Meaningful Connections report (along with links to publicity and a BSL version of the report), please visit the following link.

Happy 10th birthday Ruthless Research

November 2, 2020

Wow February 18th is the last time I blogged. And then I had a few days in London for work and then the world changed. There’s so much I could say and maybe I still will.

But mainly I came here to document the momentous occasion that is…

TEN YEARS of trading as Ruthless Research!!!!

I honestly would not have believed it if you’d told me.

Ten years ago today I said on Facebook:

Read more…

Feel free to hire me – I’m all good with the IR35

February 18, 2020

Perhaps you have been lucky enough for IR35 to pass you by, or perhaps it is all up in your face at the moment.  I can’t seem to escape the IR35 chat on LinkedIn / my businessy Facebook groups / my curated news feeds. Ah, it’s like GDPR all over again!

In case you’re not familiar, IR35 is a bunch of rules closing a loophole where some employees act as contractors to pay less tax than payrolled employees.  So if you’re a freelancer / contractor you need to be all over this with a view to providing evidence in support your status as a self-employed professional. If a person is investigated under IR35, it is their working practices that will be examined as well as their contracts.  It is all about how you act rather than what you have down on paper.

As a freelancer I am of course concerned to ensure that I am operating legitimately with respect to IR35.

Read more…

(Still) welcoming people with mental health problems into mainstream research

January 28, 2020

One of the first things that I did when I went freelance was to write an article entitled Welcoming people with mental health problems into mainstream research, which was published in the International Journal of Market Research in 2011.

Immediately preceding this I was Head of Research at a mental health charity and this opened my eyes to the fact that mental health problems are ‘invisible’ and widespread, and that people with mental health problems regularly face exclusion.  My attention was also drawn to the fact that many people with mental health problems are also consumers of mainstream products and services, and therefore form a notable proportion of the population of participants involved with mainstream research.

With this in mind I wrote this article to discuss ‘best practice’ ways in which mental health problems should be considered when conducting research projects.

The world has changed a lot since then and perhaps this all sounds obvious to you now.  However, I do think what I have written in this article still stands and I also think that some of the points have a broader use when it comes to planning accessible research projects generally.

So!  Why not check out my article, which you can find reproduced on my website.

I’m also always delighted to have a chat with you about how you can make your research projects as accessible as possible so please do get in touch any time.

Link to my work: Evaluation of the ArtFelt pilot project (Luminate and Starcatchers)

January 13, 2020

Please follow this link to read the final report from the evaluation of the ArtFelt pilot art project.  This project was a collaboration between Luminate and Starcatchers, which involved children at Forbes Nursery visiting older residents at nearby Morlich House care home and collaborating on a range of artistic and creative activities.

Meaningful ways to pick a supplier

January 7, 2020

Recently I’ve seen a few freelance jobs come up that use a particular approach to tender evaluation and this has got me all confused.

The (more formal) clients that I work with have scoring systems for evaluating tenders, and tenders are scored on elements including price, quality, skills etc.

The bit that has me baffled is a way that clients seem to be evaluating the pricing element of late.  Here’s a real example:

The lowest compliant total firm price will be awarded the maximum percentage mark. All other compliant tenders will be awarded the appropriate percentage mark in relation to the tender with the lowest score.

Basically the bidder that quotes the lowest cost for the job gets most points, and then all the other bidders are ranked against this.  So if you put in the lowest bid you get the most points, and if you put in the highest bid, you get the least points.  Then points mean prizes, as the bidder with the most points will get the job.  Hurray!

OK that’s a process, that’s quantifiable, that’s a way of converting hundreds of pages of blah into a decision.

But as a potential supplier I’m so confused as to how to play this game.

Read more…