The Creative Communities Unit is made up of a small team of academic staff with established reputations as practitioners in their areas of expertise.

See our brief profiles below and follow the links for longer individual profiles.  All Creative Communities Unit  members of staff are based in Room S108 in the Mellor Building at Staffordshire University.

Nic Gratton

Nic is a Senior Lecturer in Youth and Community Work and is the Lead for Cultural and Community Engagement at Staffordshire University. She specializes in participatory action research, creative research techniques and community development and leads on a number of projects which involve local people in the research or evaluation process. Nic teaches on a range of short courses including Participatory Action Research and Youth and Community work. She was the chair of the social impact strand for Stoke-on-Trent’s bid to be City of Culture 2021 and was a core member of the bidding team. As part of this work she coordinated the community consultation for the bid and nurtured and facilitated the SOTogether Community Advisory Network for people who lived, worked or studied in the city to influence decision making about the City of Culture bid.  She has also coproduced a peer researcher project with Reach, a group of people with learning disabilities, exploring the barriers to accessing culture for people with learning disabilities.  Nic also manages the evaluation for Appetite (a large scale arts project in Stoke-on-Trent) and leads on the development of a Connected Communities Framework for Staffordshire University. Nic has over 20 years experience as a youth and community worker, manager, trainer and consultant.



Penny Vincent

Penny is a Senior Lecturer in Community Engagement, and leads the University’s work to support students to develop employability skills through volunteering and community engagement, in partnership with the Students Union. She manages a team of Community Organisers and co-facilitates a community champions’ network in Stoke-on-Trent. Penny teaches community based participatory research, volunteering and community leadership.



We also work closely with a number of academics and associates


Pete Twilley

Peter is a Visiting Fellow at Staffordshire University, and has a background in youth and community work, adult education and regeneration. Particular areas of interest include the role that voluntary, community and faith sector organisations play in developing communities, contributing to social cohesion and the delivery of local and national government priorities. He is interested in social enterprise and how local people can develop businesses from a local need or idea. He is also on the Board of VAST.



Sarah Page

Sarah holds an MSc in Mentoring and Coaching from Sheffield Hallam University, and has 15 years of experience in training, performance coaching, mentoring and therapeutic work.    Her teaching, research and consultancy interests are mainly around tackling poverty, community leadership and management, mentoring and people skills, and qualitative research methods.

Iona 2015 

Iona Jones

Iona Jones is principal consultant with Imagine Associates, an equality and diversity consultancy. From 2001 – 2006 she was employed as diversity manager for BBC English Regions. She has a PhD in Ethnic Relations. Iona also worked as a probation officer for 12 years, including time as a senior probation officer, managing a centre for women offenders. Iona has previously served on the board of brap, a national human rights and equalities organisation. She is currently a director of All the Small Things CIC, a trustee at the New Vic Theatre and a governor of Northern Baptist College. She has a level 2 certificate in British Sign Language. She is currently working with the Creative Communities Unit on the City of Culture Social Value Forecast.