culture + environment creating health + wellbeing engaged research

Lorraine Hansford

Research Fellow


Lorraine Hansford is a Research Fellow based at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health, and is also part of the Relational Health Group at the Medical School. She has a professional background in youth and community work, and takes an engaged approach to research, working alongside communities and community organisations. Research interests include health inequalities, particularly in the areas of mental health, end of life and bereavement, and the experiences of low-income communities.


Lorraine’s fellowship explores the impact of poverty on end of life and bereavement experiences in the UK. The Checking Out project is using a range of qualitative approaches to advance understanding of the ways in which end of life care and bereavement services may be failing to meet the needs of those living on a very low income.  The research explores the notion of ‘a good death’, working in partnership with community organisations, health practitioners and those with lived experience to sensitively explore the ways that individuals talk about and experience terminal illness and dying. It will explore possibilities for new ways of introducing and talking about death within communities, and implications for social policy and public health approaches to palliative care.

Lorraine is also working as part of a Wellcome Trust funded secondment at Colab Exeter during 2021. Colab is a wellbeing hub hosting over 30 statutory and voluntary sector organisations supporting people with complex needs (homelessness, addiction, involvement with the criminal justice system, mental ill health). The secondment looks at the role of research and reflection in third sector responses to complex and fast-changing circumstances (e.g. Covid-19) and implications for future practice.  It focuses particularly on ‘Colab Connect’, a pilot programme bringing together different organisations to co-design and test new ways of providing a ‘community response’ to mental health support in Exeter.

Lorraine is also working with colleagues Professor Catherine Leyshon and Dr Shukru Esmene (Social Innovation Group, Centre for Geography and Environmental Sciences), as part of an ESRC Impact Accelerator Account funded project to develop a bespoke version of their ‘Guided Conversation’ toolkit for people with complex needs in Exeter. The Guided Conversation is a place-based, person-centred tool which will be co-produced by people with lived experience of homelessness and practitioners in the field, to support individuals to identify needs and aspirations and organisations to respond to those needs.

Lorraine previously worked on the De-Stress study: an ESRC funded research project running from November 2016 to April 2019, examining the medicalisation of distress in low-income communities. The study examined the ways in which moral narratives (relating to individual responsibility and welfare entitlements) impact on healthcare decisions, prescribing practice and experiences of health and wellbeing.

Prior to this Lorraine worked as an Associate Research Fellow within the Child Mental Health research group.