Welcome to the Purple Research Group page!

We are Charlie, Ella, Leanne, Liam, Janine, Jo, John, Sam and Tracey and we are a team of researchers who all go to and/or support someone who attends the Purple Patch Lifelong Learning Programmes. We work with a researcher from the University of Leeds, called Melissa – together we are the Purple Research Group.

Our vision is that learning-disabled people are involved in all research.

Earlier this year, we were thrilled to receive funding from the Young Foundation’s Community Knowledge Fund for an exciting project that aims to break down barriers for learning-disabled people to be meaningfully involved in research.

During the project, we learned about different types of research and identified what might stop learning-disabled people from being involved. We then came up with a list of recommendations about how research can be made accessible. 

Our ‘River of Research’ below shows the findings from the project:

An illustration of a river that describes our journey on the project and shows our findings. The illustration includes trees, birds, fish and a boat.

Click below to hear the Purple Research Group talking through our ‘River of Research’ findings:

What’s next?

We want to do more research and pass on what we’ve learned. We’re looking for funding to be able to create training and information to help people to do accessible and inclusive research.

We also want to grow our network. If you’re interested in getting involved, please get in touch! 

What do we mean by research?

‘Research’ can mean a lot of different things – for us, research is about trying to answer a question that you do not know the answer to. Lots of people use research: scientists trying to create new medicines, academics wanting to find out why things happen, organisations asking participants their thoughts and opinions, even chocolate makers asking people what their next creation should be!

We believe that anyone can be a researcher if they want to be. We know that learning-disabled adults can make great researchers and we want to make sure that other learning-disabled people can share their experience and expertise.

How we got here

We started doing research in August 2020 as part of Melissa’s PhD. We spent 3 years learning all about research and worked together to find out what people think about Purple Patch Arts. We also thought about exciting ways we can share our experiences at Purple Patch Arts with other people.

Our research themes were : “People”, “Arts and Variety” and “Accessibility and Support”. We used these themes to help us to understand our experiences at Purple Patch Arts. 

We met every two weeks over Zoom to do our research from August 2020 – September 2021. For each theme, we read about research other people had done and chose our research questions. We collected our evidence using creative, inclusive  and interactive research methods: we created posters and artistic responses, designed questionnaires, took photographs, wrote poems, kept a research diary and did interviews.

Finally, we analysed our data to see what we had found out. Melissa is currently writing up our research findings into her PhD thesis, and we are very excited that we are turning our research into a comic book! We can’t wait to share it with you soon!

Creation of our comic book is generously funded by the Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research (SEMPRE)

If you would like to read more about how we worked together to do our research, you can read our blog here.


If you have any questions about the research you can contact Fran by emailing or contact Melissa by emailing

The Purple Research Group illustrated by Molly Pukes.

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