Between November and December 2021, Romane, Jaimie, and Ella visited the Friary Community Centre in Acton London, the base for Jamal Edwards Delve’s Charity (JEDelve), four times.
We were most excited about meeting the JEDelve team and young people. To prepare for these meetings, the research assistant team poured over project documents and ethical guidelines.
Learning from the young people
Aside from getting to know the lovely team at the community centre (a big shoutout to Yara and Ayaka!), the main purpose of these sessions were to learn from the young people. Ella and Jaimie conducted questionnaires with the young people about their current feelings and mental health. While research assistant Romane, who is also working on this project for her third year dissertation, conducted one-on-one in-depth interviews about the young peoples’ experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic and the type of support they would like.
The data collection process was a key part of the visit. Ella was in charge of conducting questionnaires, with Jaimie taking on an assisting role towards the end of the process.
During the data collection process, I was typically the one to help the young people understand what the study was about and what participating in it would look like. I would then be on hand in case they had questions about any of the questionnaire items.
A couple young people told me they found the experience of having to reflect on their mental health surprisingly interesting, as one doesn’t often need to think about such things!
The questionnaire conducting process was quicker than I expected. My involvement came later in the questionnaire taking process, hence only conducting two questionnaires. The young people were very receptive and open about their feelings, which I found brave.
The one-on-one interviews conducted by Romane were crucial to gain a deeper understanding about the young people’s experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic. This process helped shape future focus group topics and ultimately the workshops organised for the young people (spring 2022).
I was very impressed and felt very grateful to have the young people open up to me the way they did. It was so insightful– they had a lot to say. A big thing that many of them brought up was not feeling heard. Having someone sitting opposite them and listening to them may have been a big thing, making it easier for them to open up.
The young people were very open when talking about hard things they’ve been through. That relationship was built across the visits I made. Over time, they got more and more comfortable and enthusiastic about the workshops we will create. I hope that us going back and forth with the workshop ideas will shape enjoyable and beneficial workshops.
Through the data collection process, the researchers got to know the young people better and greatly appreciated the opportunity to do so.
As soon as I started chatting with the young people about their hobbies or generally how their lives are going, the conversation flowed from there. I loved getting to know the personalities that make up the community at JEDelve.
I really enjoyed my visits to JEDelve. I felt very welcome and comfortable amongst the community. It was lovely to talk about common interests such as arts or sports.
I feel really grateful to have had this opportunity to have these conversations and for them to feel comfortable. There’s so much to learn from them and they’re allowing us to. We are very lucky to be in the position to do this work.
In conclusion, these first times visiting the Friary Community centre were extremely insightful, enabling the research team to meet the young people and listen to their experiences. Data collected during these meeting will be used both to assess study effectiveness as well as to inform the topics of future focus groups and workshops. The team can’t wait to see the young people again!