Today I had my first experience of researching in the field as a Sociology student through field work. It had taken quite some planning as I was working independently rather than within a group for various reasons, mainly because of the way my social anxiety peaks in the educational environment to an unbearable level. I had planned to write a blog about the activities I was partaking in today. However, I didn’t envisage it would have been such an eye-opening experience.
The topic I was researching for this project was homelessness. I was interviewing a co-founder of a local charity who work with vulnerable and marginalised people who may be homeless or suffering from addiction with an aim to aid recovery through creative and holistic activities to help develop skills that participants can use in daily life to manage their mental health. The interview was an hour long and semi-structured.
In the lead up to the interview, I felt confident that I was fully prepared, and I was on paper. Although I don’t think I was quite emotionally prepared, some of the stories that were shared were harrowing and revelationary in many ways. I certainly didn’t expect both myself and the interviewee to be holding back tears at moments. I think the interview provided some fascinating material that will lead to an excellent report.
The second part of my field work experience was out in the city of Liverpool. It took the form of an urban tour, being led around the streets of the city observing critical aspects of homeless living on the streets and the challenges it presents. We witnessed some extremely unexpected elements of homeless living in the city. We were honoured to be able to listen to the story of a homeless man who had been experiencing life on the streets for 16 years.
I think despite the often overwhelming nature of this research experience, it has been a massive learning curve; not only in methods but also on the subject of homelessness through the many forms it can take to the reasons behind the rise and what can be done to improve the current crisis. I am confident that all of the information I collected today from the interview, urban tour and all my notes will make an extremely effective report.