Participatory Research – Health and Human Rights

Peer Research

We are a group of 5 volunteers at Glasgow Homelessness Network who were given the opportunity to take part in research that tries to better understand the experiences of people who struggle to achieve equal rights of access to health services or good health because of other circumstances in their lives.

We hadn’t done much research before and we got to work with the University of Strathclyde and the ALLIANCE who provided us with a lot of training and support to build research skills, work out what questions to ask, how to ask them, and we all had ideas about where we could go to speak to people who were experiencing homelessness.

We’ve finished our training and here are some of our thoughts.

Our learning

Through the training we learned that there are different ways to start conversations with people and ask questions and that using pictures and images can work really well for some people.  Pictures can help us better understand people’s perceptions of things and might make things easier for people with literacy issues.  We also learned about different ways to break down potential barriers in a group – maybe some people are nervous – to help get everyone involved.

And more than that, we also found that it could be fun!

Our hopes for people taking part in the research …

Everyone taking part in the research will be homeless and will probably have used different health services.  Our main hope is that people will learn that they do have human rights when it comes to their health and what they are.  We also hope that they might learn more about services that can help them and maybe build some confidence.

Our hopes for ourselves in the future …

Duncan – I hope to increase my knowledge of different cultures, improve my skills and to help set up similar projects in the future.

Douglas – It has been good being involved from the beginning to see what is involved and I’m looking forward to going out and actually doing the research.  I think being involved from the beginning will be good for my C.V.

Alan – I’ve learned about the better part of human nature.  That people are involved in working on behalf of others for their human rights.  It will motivate me to raise awareness of the importance of human rights for people who are homeless and to build and develop more skills that I can share with people through my volunteer role.

Donna – I want to increase my knowledge on all the issues the research has highlighted and pass on the knowledge I have gained.  I hope to use my skills to work towards employment and be a good example for my son.

Sadly, we lost Donna during the research project and would like to dedicate this to her.  Her laughter and willingness to help others will always stay with everyone who knew her.

*  The research is funded by NHS Health Scotland and delivered in partnership by the University of Strathclyde, the ALLIANCE, Glasgow Homelessness Network and the Mental Health Foundation.

This blog was originally posted on the Glasgow Homelessness Network website. For further information, visit

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