Why do we need research?

Monday’s #CareConvos was all about how we might improve research practices and novel ways to engage people and to make research more accessible to care experienced people, practitioners and policy-makers. 

But first we wanted to understand why we need research. We asked a few academics for their views and we posted the responses via Twitter, here is what they said:

Dr Dawn Mannay from Cardiff University

It is important to involve care experienced young people as peer researchers @CASCADEresearch @VoicesFromCare provide research methods training to achieve this #CASCADEVoices

Research is pointless if no one listens to the messages – we’ve produced #films #musicvideos #art #magazines together to move beyond the academic article & create change http://www.exchangewales.org/messagestoschools

Care experienced young people @RootsWales @ReachingWiderSU made this film about their experiences here: FromYoungPeopleforYoungPeople 

Free to access article – Enabling talk and reframing messages: working creatively with care experienced children and young people to recount and re-represent their everyday experiences here

If anyone wants to share their ideas about how we might improve research practices  we would love to have more blogs here

Associate Professor Jacqueline Z Wilson from Federation University Australia

It is an important but complex question. I’ve published something recently on this – where I outlined my time at a youth emergency accommodation hostel in Melbourne, Australia, when I was a state ward. There I had “research” done about me by university visitors. The article discusses the relevance and ethics of research with and about Care leavers — not a lot has changed today from when I was in care in the 1980s – if anything it is worse here. The article is co-authored with Social work academic Philip Mendes and former Ballarat Orphanage inmate Frank Golding.

Dr Neil Harrison from the Rees Centre, University of Oxford

In answer to the question: Because without robust and rigorous research, we’d just be guessing.

Dr Dee Michell from University of Adelaide

Research to show the (often many) ways in which the state has failed to provide adequately for children in its care is vital, as long as that research includes those who’ve been in care and is used to improve care – or even to render it unnecessary – not to condemn and stigmatise CEP. Doing research for the sake of doing research (no matter who is included) rather making than substantive change is a way, I think, of feathering the nests of those who exploit the system – and therefore indirectly the child and young people.

Dr Delyth Edwards from Liverpool Hope University

Research when done right can give us wonderful insights into peoples lives, that ordinarily may go unnoticed. Yet these insights can be of huge importance for helping bring about change in the policy sphere or wherever . Research can help us identify and explore themes, patterns and links between things that can be extremely helpful. For me, research is not about giving anyone a voice. People already have voices, its just a matter of listening and hearing what people say and with good research, that can happen. Also i hate hate hate it when the term ‘hard to reach group’ is used. No one is hard to reach, you just have to ask and speak to people.

Dr Josie Orrell Pearse of Pearse and Black

It’s been psychologically grounding/freeing  for me as care experienced to contextualise the closed adoption system I grew up in. Although it’s still the norm in many states of the USA – and seems to have come from the American ‘dream’ of a new start for everyone deemed white – in so many other countries governments stopped the barbaric practice of cutting people from their roots for the purposes of social engineering in the late 20th century – if they ever had it at all. It was a particular time in history, made when western society as a whole was frightened of being tainted by so called bad or foreign blood. I think of it as Coulterizing after Mrs Coulter in Phillip Pullman’s work, who cuts children from their life- enhancing daemons.  

Ian Dickson, retired Social Worker/Ofsted Inspector

What is the value of research? To me the question invokes images of “Campbell’s condensed Soup”. To get enough soup to feed many, we need only open one tin of condensed soup instead of opening many. Research to me is simply the condensed version of years of practice & experience. Either each practitioner repeats all the mistakes of the past and learns over again every time or she opens a book and has the benefit of others’ condensed learning at her fingertips. 
The question should be how could one possibly manage without research! 

Katrina Goodman, MA Career Guidance student

My area of chosen research is careers of care leavers, originally this was to be an autoethnographic dissertation, changed by ethics process July 2019, so I am now writing up a literature review on the Journey of Care Leavers in Careers Guidance, using the psychological and sociological barriers that ‘may’ affect care leavers, using 1994 as the time I was relinquished from care as a time line. My findings have been upsetting, frustrating and at times I have sworn at my pc. There are years of missing data, and an unrepresentation of BAME in care leavers in relation to mental health identity aspirations rights life expectancy, to my horror there is no literature for this group going back to the 1980’s and a horrifying rise in racism in some of this country’s top universities. For me the importance of research, is to give a voice to our history as CEP’s. To give insight to the complex difficulties and issues that have predisposed us all, but to improve careers advice for care leavers, inform practitioners and hope that my research contributes to UK CEP community. That it gives weight to the lived experience and its need to be recognised as valued research, validating our experiences and to make a difference for the next generation. It is important that BAME are recognised in our history and to embed our legacy of survival. The epitome of examples of how successful CEP adults are, beyond the historic failings of systems, that we have been consulted, participated and contributed to. To show, young people, that despite adversity they/we are a collective community and we are making it as adults, this is my caffeine fuelled answer to the importance of research. 

Dr Claire Fitzpatrick from Lancaster University

Robust and rigorous research can illuminate new insights whilst also reinforcing or challenging the relevance of knowledge previously generated. At its best, it has the potential to change the world – if the right people are listening!

#CareConvos is now looked after by the Care Experienced Young People’s Network (YPN) which is a small group of care experienced (CEP) young people, campaigning for improved support for care leavers.

You can find out more about their fantastic work here.

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