Throughout the process of undertaking a research study on the relationship between homelessness and substance use in Northern Ireland, many opinions and perspectives have emerged as to how to conduct this study. The aspiration was to speak directly to individuals who currently experienced homelessness, with one phase of the study using surveys. There were concerns about how to engage participants in this process and how informed consent would be obtained, therefore it was suggested that it might be more feasible to survey practitioners, rather than service users. Whilst concerns about consent and engagement were important factors to consider in planning the study, this paper will argue that it is important to involve individuals who are homeless in research that is about them, finding ways in which we can enable them to have a voice. This paper will present the researcher’s experience of engaging with homeless individuals, alongside methods used to recruit them to complete surveys. Additionally, the concerns around obtaining informed consent from individuals who are homeless and under the influence of a substance will be presented, discussing how as a social worker the researcher has used the Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 as a basis to mitigate any potential ethical disputes throughout this process. In order to highlight how this study has been successful in its aim to involve homeless people in research that is about them, some preliminary findings will also be offered.
|Publication status||Published - Sep 2019|