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‘Life as we know it’: A Participatory Evaluation and Peer Research project

(Delivered by Media Education and Briege Nugent for Life Changes Trust 2020 -2021)

Media Education are utilising 30 years of experience of working in collaboration and co-producing with young people, treating them as experts in their own lives. Briege has fifteen years of doing narrative research with young people often referred to as ‘hard to reach.’ The team’s approach and aim is to help facilitate the Peer Researchers to tell their story, and the benefits of this tried and tested practice are acknowledged by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS) (Drum, 2013). This project is an extended participatory practice with young people that moves from tokenistic involvement and consultation to putting them at the heart, supporting them to express themselves in a safe and empowering way, and is central to the team’s ethos. This is underpinned by an ethics of care (Gilligan, 1982) and inclusivity.

The main focus of the research is the Peer Researchers reflections of their own journey as peer researchers and how this connects to the trajectory of their lives, providing unique insights drawing on their life experience to date and where they will journey from here. This is about them finding and projecting their voice to understand ‘Life as we know It’.

This project is also about making sure lived experience voices are represented within the evaluation projects, providing individual support to the Peer Researchers, advocating between them and the External Evaluation organisations. This should be a positive experience, raising the reputation of genuine participatory practice and making sure the Peer Researchers know that their voices have made a difference.

In this workshop we will explore participatory video methods and Zines, which is a self-published booklet of original or appropriated texts and images, as an effective evaluative tool for research. The learning so far has shown some of the extent of individual vulnerabilities but also their strengths too, and the need throughout this process for an ethical and reflective stance. It has transpired that this project is about more than the Peer Researcher’s journey, but also the need to bring the Team’s voice as a whole to the fore, to highlight the wider injustices people are facing in society and to challenge structural inequalities. ‘Life as we know it’ then also needs to be about reflecting how it should be.

Find out more about the conference:

Researching well – Good practice and ethics in third sector research 2021 online conference

The 6th TSRF conference took place on Wednesday 17th February 2021, 9.30am – 2.30pm via Zoom. The conference was all about ethics and good practice in third sector research.