Portrait of  Sophie Fournel

Sophie Fournel


Research and Training Fellow
BA (Hons)


I am currently the CEO of Disability Assist, a disabled persons’ user-led organisation which works with adults with disabilities and disabling long-term health conditions across Kent. As a charity, we see a high proportion of clients who are unemployed and understand the need to address the employment gap that exists for disabled people so that they have the same opportunities that are available to their peers. We also face challenges as an organisation in recruiting skilled personnel to our staff and board of trustees.


I identified this as a crucial research opportunity and my proposal focuses on investigating the barriers to employment experienced by working-age individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). By directly involving people with lived experience, I hope to improve research and policy in adult social care (ASC), challenge current ASC practice and to adopt an approach that empowers people with MS to have ambition and to succeed in employment.


In addition to my existing responsibilities as CEO of Disability Assist, I hope this fellowship will expand my skillset and provide me with valuable research skills and experience. This endeavour will help to strengthen my role as a representative of disabled people in Kent, allowing me to continue advocating for their rights and needs on local and national platforms. I hope that this will also make a positive difference within the MS community, challenging negative perceptions and showcasing the capabilities of disabled people as well as allowing me to act as a role model for those facing similar challenges.


The project will also add credibility to Disability Assist, reinforcing the charity’s strategic goals, and potentially lead to the development of new, person-centered ASC services and early intervention strategies. My hope is that this research will contribute to closing the national disability employment gap and ensure that disabled people receive the support they need to excel in life.

Last updated 31 October 2023