A think tank (or policy institute) is a non-profit organisation that undertakes research in areas of government and/or social policy. The UK has a number of world-leading think tanks, and there is a good list provided by The Guardian in addition to one on Wikipedia. In most cases they have a broad political alignment, although in many cases they seek to transcend traditional left/right definitions.
Even light research on your part will reveal research undertaken by the think tanks that fall within your area of interest for the current project. For example:
- The IPPR’s Older Londoners project is looking at the problems raised by the lack of social contact on the part of older people.
- Demos has also recently produced a report on the ageing population.
- The New Economics Foundation has published research on creating stronger and more inclusive communities.
- The Young Foundation also does research on the ageing population.
- The Work Foundation conducts research into the future of work and employment.
These are just tasters, and I would recommend that you look through the websites of these and other think tanks. In most cases their research publications are freely downloadable.