Plenary speakers for SPA Conference 2020

We are pleased to announce our Plenary speakers for the


15-17 July, University of York, England

To reach ‘beyond the echo chamber’ we aspire to introduce a number of key speakers from a variety of disciplines and organisations, including:

  • Professor Sue Yeandle, University of Sheffield
  • Claire Ainsley, Executive Director, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Karl Wilding, Chief Executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)
  • Professor Jo Swaffield, University of York
  • Professor Gurminder K Bhambra, University of Sussex

15th July – Opening Plenary and Journal of Social Policy & Social Policy and Society nominated Speaker

Professor Sue Yeandle, University of Sheffield

Sue is Professor of Sociology at the University of Sheffield, where she is Director of CIRCLE (Centre for International Research on Care, Labour and Equalities); Principal Investigator, Sustainable Care: connecting people and systems programme, and Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Care and Caring.

Sue’s research focuses on the relationship between work and care, how policies affect how people manage caring roles throughout the life course, and the role of technology in supporting carers. She also specialises in international analysis of care arrangements and in evaluating the impact of carer support initiatives. Sue has been an advisor to various governments, official committees and task forces on care and caring, is a research member of the NGO Eurocarers, and has connections to the international carers’ movement around the world. In her current programme on Sustainable Care, Sue guides eight research teams (in total involving 35 academics, researchers and experts) working on different aspects of care systems, care work and relationships and addressing conceptual and methodological challenges in the study of care and caring.

16th July – Plenary Panel, with an Introduction and Presidential Address from Baroness Ruth Lister

Claire Ainsley, Executive Director, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Claire joined JRF in November 2013 as Director of Communications and External Affairs. She was appointed JRF Executive Director in December 2017. She leads work on understanding the social and political attitudes of people in poverty, and chaired the task group of JRF’s strategy to solve UK poverty. She is director champion for the JRF/ JRHT staff Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) network.

Prior to joining JRF in November 2013, Claire worked in public affairs and communications in the public and voluntary sectors, and for the UK’s largest trade union.

Claire has a BA in Politics from the University of York and an MSc in Global Politics from the University of London. She is a member of the advisory board of the Centre for the Study of British Politics and Public Life. Her book, ‘The New Working Class: how to win hearts, minds and votes’, was published in May 2018 by Policy Press. She is a trustee of Involve, a public participation charity.


Karl Wilding, Chief Executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)

Karl Wilding became chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations in 2019. Previously he was NCVO’s director of public policy and volunteering, where he oversaw advocacy work on behalf of charities, community groups, social enterprises and volunteering.

He has an extensive knowledge of charities and volunteering here and overseas. Prior to joining NCVO, Karl completed a PhD which looked at the history of the relationship between charities and the state.

Karl speaks and writes widely on issues facing the voluntary sector, including public trust, the role of modern charity, and the future of giving and social action.

He is a trustee of Communities 1st in St Albans and of the American charity Creating The Future. He was until recently a non-exec director at Charity Bank, and is an honorary visiting fellow at Cass Business School.

Professor Jo Swaffield, University of York

Professor Jo Swaffield is a Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics and Related Studies, University of York and Head of Department. Her main areas of research interest are labour economics and applied microeconometrics, focusing on issues in the UK labour market such as the gender wage gap, in-work poverty and low wages (including minimum wages and the Living Wage). Jo’s research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and the Low Pay Commission (LPC). She is Chair of the Royal Economic Society’s ‘Conference of Heads of University Departments of Economics’ (CHUDE) and a member of the Home Office’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).

17th JULY – Closing Plenary

Professor Gurminder K Bhambra, University of Sussex

Gurminder K Bhambra is Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies in the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex. Previously, she was Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick.

Her first monograph, Rethinking Modernity: Postcolonialism and the Sociological Imagination (Palgrave, 2007), won the 2008 Philip Abrams Memorial Prize for best first book in sociology. It addressed how the experiences and claims of non-European ‘others’ have been rendered invisible to the standard narratives and analytical frameworks of sociology. Her recent research addresses the ways in which colonialism and colonised populations were central to the building up of resources within the national state; resources which then contributed to the financing of the welfare state.

She is Series Editor of the Theory for a Global Age series and set up the Global Social Theory website to support students and academics interested in social theory in global perspective. She is co-editor of the online magazine, Discover Society and Trustee of the Sociological Review Foundation.

Please join us at #SPAconf2020 to hear from these fantastic speakers and share your own thoughts and research.