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									        Dirk Schubotz

Involving young people as peer
  researchers in research on
community relations in Northern
                        The key challenge

     ‘All too often the opinions of young people
     are ignored when decisions are made
     about many issues involving them.‘ (YLT)
Our ambition is to produce social research that is:

1.   Academically sound;
2.   Relevant to young people;
3.   Informative to social policy makers, but also
4.   Critical towards social policy.

• on children and young people
• with children and young people
• empowering children and young people
(Borland et al. 2001)

1. UNCRC: Articles 12 and 13
2. NI Children’s Order (1995)
3. NI ten year strategy for children and young people
                          About YLT
• YLT run alongside NILT
• All 12-17-year olds living in the same household
  as adult researchers
• Review of methodological approach
Since 2003
• Annual stand-alone survey of 16-year olds
                           About YLT

• Every 16-year old born in February of the
  survey year who receives Child Benefit (ca.
  2,000 eligible young people each year)
• Postal questionnaire (also online and phone
  completion possible)
• Initially large-scale survey design with no
  participatory element or significant qualitative
                                  About YLT
Community relations and cross-community contact - asked since
Education - asked since 2003
Identity – asked since 2003
Family - asked since 2006
Health - asked since 2004
Environment and global issues - asked in 2006
Child poverty and rights of child – asked in 2007
Politics - asked in 2004 and 2007
Pressures and influences - asked in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008
Self-harm and emotional health – asked in 2008
Attitudes to minority ethnic groups – asked in 2008
Background and social capital - asked since 2003
               Means of participation in YLT

1. Participatory elements in the survey design
2. Giving active feedback on survey results
3. Qualitative follow-up projects involving young
4. Involving peer researchers in projects
5. Competitions (e.g. essay, photo)
                 ‘Participatory’ survey?

• Ask open questions
• Ask respondents to suggest questions for next
  year’s survey
• Alternate question format and style to reflect
  societal changes

Challenge: Time series survey questions ‘don’t
 like’ to be changed…
                  ‘Participatory’ survey?
  ‘Is there anything else you would like to say
  about community relations in Northern
• 1,500 open responses since 2003

  ‘What questions do you think we should be
  asking respondents in next year’s survey?’
• Each year we incorporate up to five
  suggestions in the new survey
 ‘I think Young Life and Times is a very good
opportunity for young people to get their views
            taken into perspective.’

           (YLT respondent, 2003)
                  Follow-up projects so far
1. ‘Voices behind the Statistics’ (with NCB)
2.   ‘Being Part and Parcel of the School’ (with
     NCB, commissioned by NICCY) (2005/6)
3.   ‘Cross-community schemes:
     participation, motivation mandate.’ (Peace
     II) (2007/8)
4.   ‘Attitudes to Difference’ (with NCB)
5.   Self-injury and emotional health (Nuffield
     Foundation) (2008/9)
                    Levels of participation
1.       Being informed (Recipient)
          Young people being informed about research being
           carried out
2.       Expressing a view (Participant)
          Young people as research participants/respondents
3.       Influencing decision-making (Peer Researcher,
         or having an advisory role)
          Young people with some say in research process
4.       Deciding partners (Colleague Researcher)
          Young people making joint decisions with adult
5.       Main deciders (Leader)
         Young people with authority to make final decisions
     (Kirby 1999)
               Cross-community schemes

• Background:
  – 93% of pupils in NI attend single-religion
  – Two thirds of people in NI live in religiously
    segregated areas
  – Participation in cross-community projects is
    positively related to more favourable views
    towards others
                               Feelings towards other religious community
                                Favourable        Neither     Unfavourable
                                              favourable nor
                             Cross-community schemes
Taken part in cross-community        42             49             9
Not taken part in cross-community    33             54             13
Did attend planned integrated        46             48             6
Did not attend planned integrated    39             52             10
Taken part in cross-community        41             49             10
Not taken part in cross-community    26             58             15
Did attend planned integrated        43             51             6
Did not attend planned integrated    36             52             12
              Cross-community schemes

• What is the motivation of young people to
  take part in projects outside the school
• What are their experiences of participation
• What is the mandate of youth workers to run
  these projects
              Cross-community schemes
Research design
  – One module in 2007 YLT survey
  – 8 peer researchers recruited through YLT
  – One research methods training day
  – Field work in teams of 2(+1) in 4 cross-
    community projects
  – Data analysis day
  – Presentation/dissemination of findings
‘It has also been a pleasure working with you,
being a peer researcher with YLT/ARK has
opened many doors for me, I am now a lot more
confident, and have made many new friends, and
also being able to attend the Save the Children
event and getting my face on the big screen and
appear at the Mitchell Conference was great.
Thank you very much for all your hard work with
us. Thanks very much again, I will keep in touch.’
Cross-community schemes project, 2007/08
                 Attitudes to difference

 – Increased inward migration to N Ireland
 – Over-exaggeration of proportion of people
   from minority ethnic communities in NI
 – Little research about inter-ethnic relations
 – Belfast the ‘hate crime capital of Europe’??
                      Attitudes to Difference
Research design
  – One module in 2008 YLT survey
  – Follow-up in 8 schools
     • All-school survey;
     • Interactive Talkshops with Year 5/6 students;
     • Interviews with people from minority ethnic groups.
  – 10 (+2) peer researchers recruited from
    participating schools (two training days)
  – Data analysis day
  – Presentation/dissemination of findings
                        Background data
Among the figures below, which come closest to the
proportion of people from minority ethnic
background living in NI?
                 2004         2005         2008
Less than 1%       2            4            2
1-5%              18           19           10
6-10%             25           24           24
11-20%            27           18           31
More than 20%     15           12           24
Don’t know        11           17            9
No answer          3            7            1
‘I had fun working with everyone in the
group. YR training – very helpful and
helps me understand how important it is
to interact and respect other people’s
ideas and opinions.’
  ‘I think that the two-day training was
  excellent, but also that the project as a
  whole is an amazing opportunity towards
  an excellent cause and I would love to be
  a part of it.’

From the senior researchers’ perspective
1. Better Research
  •   (rapport with young people, common language,
      access to hard-to reach groups, insightful)
From the peer researchers’ perspective
1. Capacity building and personal development
   for peer researchers
  •   (self esteem, biographical effects, new friends)
2. Involvement of young people as citizens
                    Further Challenges
1. Providing appropriate research training;
2. Selection of researchers and research
3. Different levels of ability among peer
4. Creating a research team spirit;
5. Keeping the momentum going;
                      Further Challenges

5. Dealing with hierarchies in research (e.g. gender,
6. Keeping young people interested;
7. Preventing peer researchers from ‘going native’ (Do
   they listen or do they already ‘know’);
8. Assuring quality standard of research
   (confidentiality, ethical considerations);
9. Decision on research output and level of
   involvement of peer researchers in this.
                 Sharing and promoting data
All data made publicly available


• Downloadable datasets and questionnaire;
• Results tables (by gender and religion);
• Open-ended responses (un-edited, summarised;
• Teaching tutorials (ARK in Schools project);
• Publications in different formats (summary leaflets,
  research seminars, PP presentations, press releases,
  Research Updates, ‘academic’ publications);
• Edited book using YLT data (2008);
• Dataset archived annually with UK Data Archive.
        Dirk Schubotz

Involving young people as peer
  researchers in research on
community relations in Northern

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