Research and Policy


A Tower Hamlets Residents’ Manifesto

10 ideas for the next Mayor of Tower Hamlets, to create a brighter, poverty-free future that we shape together.

April 2022

Residents Manifesto Drone image for Tower Hamlets

Presentation to the Young Foundation Hive Peer Research Conference 2022

On Wednesday 23rd March, our Peer Researchers, Nasrat, Mikey and Nicky, and Head of Research Xia Lin, presented to the Young Foundation’s Hive Peer Research Conference 2022 on participatory research, sharing our 5 years’ learning on participatory action research. 

Watch the video to find out more about multiple peer research models with a shared goal.

More than just education

February 2022

A participatory action research project on adult education in London.

Toynbee Hall project commissioned by the Greater London Authority to inform development of the Skills Roadmap for London and approaches to improving access to adult education for Londoners.

Read the report
More than just education report

More than just education podcast

What makes accessible and empowering adult education in London?

Toynbee Hall has been working with a group of peer researchers from some of the more marginalised of backgrounds for a piece of research commissioned by the GLA to feed into the Skills Roadmap for London.

The project explored how adult education in the capital can be made more accessible and empowering. To mark the launch of our final report “More than just education” five of our peer researchers held a conversation about the value of the project, their experiences with it, and some of the key findings.


A Participatory Action Research project on the challenges of renting in London as a young person

November 2021

Report authored by young renter peer researchers, and
Toynbee Hall’s research and policy team; and designed
by young renter Megan Evans.

Read the report

Rent-Move-Repeat: The Approach

Alongside the Rent Move Repeat findings, we’ve released another report about our participatory action research approach. Here we summarise our process and learning from the Rent-Move-Repeat project.

Read the Participatory Action Research Approach report

Tower Hamlets Poverty Review

October 2021

In May 2021 Toynbee Hall collaborated with
low income residents of Tower Hamlets to
identify the drivers of poverty and solutions
for tackling them in Tower Hamlets.

Read the report

Report on impact of COVID -19

Pandemic Stories Report

Pandemic Stories: Full report

August 2021

A Participatory Action Research project exploring the experiences of Londoners disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis and their policy recommendations for a fairer future for all

Pandemic Stories, supported by Thrive LDN, is about community-led action by people with lived experience of surviving the pandemic in the hardest of circumstances.

Read the full report

The Pandemic Stories Podcast

Pandemic Stories is a new series of podcasts from Toynbee Hall, supported by Thrive LDN, looking at the disproportionate impact coronavirus is having on Londoners hardest hit because of low income, disability, racial background, or housing.

Hosted by Halima Begum, CEO of The Runnymede Trust, and Toynbee Hall Trustee, the researchers discuss the findings from their participatory action research project and the impact on their lives of the COVID-19 crisis. You can read the findings from the research in the report above.

Episode 1: Shame

In the first episode we discuss how the shame families feel when they cannot cope financially is damaging their sense of self-worth.

Halima is joined by Peer Researchers Anwar, Agustina and Jennifer.

Episode 2: Pressure to support others

In episode 2, we discuss how many Londoners are under pressure to support friends and family through the crisis, but how this isn’t a sustainable long-term solution.

Halima is joined by Peer Researchers: Angela, Ashrafia, Jennifer and Siraj.

Episode 3: Powerlessness

In this episode, we discuss how the feeling of powerlessness over future finances and employment is driving anxiety in working age people.

Halima is joined by Peer Researchers, Kamrul, Laura and Siraj and guests: Professor Mauricio Avendano, Professor of Public Policy and Global Health and Head of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine Kings College London and Dr Sotiris Vandoros, Reader in Health Economics at King’s Business School, King’s College London.

Making Tower Hamlets safer

We are supporting a diverse group of local people from Tower Hamlets to conduct research on people’s concerns around their safety and how Tower Hamlets can become a safer, more welcoming community.

Find out more and see the findings from this research

Making renting better and fairer for young people in East London

We worked alongside a diverse group of 18-30 year olds living in East London. The research and recommendations are geared towards making renting better and fairer for young people. Read their findings.

Find out more and see the findings from this research

Research and Evaluation

Research and evaluation has been part of Toynbee Hall’s identity since the organisation was founded as a University Settlement in 1884. It has helped shape its work by taking learning of the issues of the day and using them to find practical solutions and policies ‘on the ground’.

The philanthropist and social researcher Charles James Booth, for instance, led a group of Toynbee Hall residents in the 19th century and produced a well-known ‘Booth’s poverty map’ that has had a significant and lasting influence on social policy and research to date.

At Toynbee Hall, we continue to conduct research to give those affected by poverty and exclusion a voice and attempt to influence thinking and policy to find long-term solutions. Our research focuses on:

Social inclusion

Our research on social inclusion examines people’s access to rights, opportunities and resources through housing, employment, healthcare, education, civic engagement and democratic participation.

Financial inclusion

Our research looks at communities and groups suffering from financial exclusion, helping us to pilot new ways to deliver financial inclusion services and share lessons learnt from some of the innovative projects we have been involved in.


Along with our research on social inclusion and financial inclusion, we also examine the wellbeing of various groups, such as older people, young people and women.

Browse our Research and Evaluation reports

We also partner with universities and other organisations on various research and evaluation projects.

Toynbee Hall also conducts internal service evaluation to improve the user journey, improve outcomes and fully understand the issues around poverty and exclusion to create new services and influence policy. We seek to collaborate and share our findings to improve all services and create innovative solutions.

Here is an example of a recent Peer Research Project where we trained 20 people aged 50 and over to become social researchers in their own communities to find out what the main needs of local older people.

If you would like to find out more or discuss our research and evaluation, please email

Selections from different areas of the research and evaluation are showcased in this section to demonstrate the range of Toynbee Hall’s work. Some reports are products of our earlier years, dating back to nearly 100 years ago. Every project at Toynbee Hall has played a part in our helping us move toward our mission to help those in poverty today and tomorrow. It is this tireless work that inspires us to continue developing the research and evaluation work at Toynbee Hall.

Support our research 

Supporting our research work means helping the voices of those who are disempowered enter policy discussions that directly affect their lives. Our research projects investigate the need behind our services, and are increasingly co-produced with members of our community. You can assist our research through making a one-off or regular donation by clicking the link below, or contact our Development team to learn about more ways to support:

Be a supporter