Particpatory Research

The EPIC project not only supports the development of processes that will allow people with experience of poverty and social exclusion to have their voices heard in policy processes, but is also build community capacity to be able to feed evidence into these processes. 

One way of gathering evidence is through participatory action research. Since the EPIC project was established it has been developing a focused programme of particpatory research. In the first 18 months of the project this meant working with a young people's group in Stirling and an ex-offenders project in west central Scotland. The results of these pieces of resdearch have not only developed the skills and capacity of those involved in the research, but have had a real impact on policy development at the local and national level. 

The next phase of the research part of EPIC will be focused on looking at rural issues. Over the coming months we will be working with Fife Gingerbread to explore some of the problems faced by women living on low incomes in a rural context. This research will be published towards the end of 2012. 

Research Seminar Series, April 2013

Research tends to be owned and controlled by researchers, or by those who, in turn, own and control the researchers.’ (1993: 73)

The Evidence Participation and Change (EPIC) project has had a focus on working with communities through community based research projects. This work reflects a growing emphasis in policy and service development on co-production, collaboration and user or community led research within the UK. As such approaches become more popular and widespread it is important to understand fully the implications of undertaking such work and the resources and capacity required to do so.

This research represents one model from a broad spectrum of approaches and frameworks. Models takes many shapes and forms such as survivor research, community based participatory research, emancipatory research, action research, feminist participatory research and many other hybrid forms in between. This seminar series will provide three half-day seminars exploring participation through research. It will combine theoretical underpinnings with input from and learning points from those have been involved in projects in the research that has been carried out through the EPIC project.

These seminars will be of interest to community based organisations /community Activists, voluntary organisations , policy makers (national and local), local authorities, community planning  academics, funding bodies.

Seminar One: ‘Its not really research is it?’ Value and Empowerment Through User and Community Lead Approaches to Research, 14 April 2013, Renfield St Stephens, Glasgow 10 am to 12.30pm 

Seminar Two: ‘This could get messy’: Exploring ethics within the context of service user and community lead approaches, 19 April, Scottish Trade Union Centre, Glasgow 10.00 am till 12.30 pm 

Seminar Three: ‘Where to begin’ Ownership and Support, Handing over the power to community and service-user groups, 26th of April, Discovery point, Dundee 2.00-4.30pm 

Surviving Poverty: The Impact of Lone Parenthood

Published January 2013

This is the third piece of participatory research to be launched as part of the Poverty Alliance's EPIC project and is the first to have worked with lone parents to look at their experiences of living on a low income in a rural community. Specifically, the research has sought to better understand those factors that contribute to, or diminish, the well-being of lone parents. The research was carried out by lone parents who were involved with Fife Gingerbread and went through a comprehensive process of research training, which has not only help build their research skills but has also increased their confidence and ability to speak out on matters that are important to them.

Amongst the key issues to emerge from the report are:

  • A number of factors contributed to well-being (family and support networks, emotional and physical health, choice and freedom), but underpinning many issues was that of low income;
  • Parents spoke of the problems of stress associated with dealing with financial problems. This was compounded by fears about the impact of welfare changes;
  • Rising costs, particularly in relation to food and fuel, were having a real impact. Some parents skipped meals to ensure that their children did not go without;
  • Access to employment and employability services was hampered by a range of barriers including childcare and transport.
  • Lone parents faced a range of barriers to services. This included public transport, digital exclusion and lack of knowledge of support available within their area.

The report provides further evidence on the needs and priorities of lone parents and reminds us of the importance of addressing these priorities if we are to effectively tackle child and family poverty in Scotland. 

To download the publication click here (file size: 1.4Mb)

Out of Jail, But Still Not Free: Experiences of temporary accommodation on leaving prison.

This report is based on the views and experiences of ex- offenders living in central Scotland who took part in a community research project throughout 2010. Issues around housing were identified as central to the challenges that many ex offenders experience when they leave prison. The report highlights the many barriers ex offenders face when trying to negotiate their way through a complex and at times confusing system. To download the report please click here

Lost Sheep Looking for Somewhere to Go

A study into young people in the transition from school to employment, education or training.

 The report is based on the views and experiences of young people in Stirling who took part in a participatory research project throughout 2010. The report highlights, the continuing challenges that many young people face in making a successful transition from school, challenges that are likely to increase in the years to come. To download the report please click here . 

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For more information contact:

Fiona McHardy

Research and Policy Officer

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