“Peer researchers have a deep and personal understanding of the social or geographical community being studied. They may assist with research design, help develop research tools, collect and analyse data, and help write up and disseminate findings.”

The Young Foundation 2022

My lived experience was involved with the social services and the child protection system.

I am one of the founding members of the Family Advisory Board (FAB group), in Camden in 2014 and became the coordinator for the FAB group recently, a lay member of the Camden Safeguarding Children Partnership, and a trained Parent Advocate for Child Protection Conference. I am also a Relational Activist and actively promote Family Group Conferences, Parent Advocacy, Parent Participation, and use my experience through relationship and working collectively with others to achieve social change.

My journey started when Tim Fisher, my manager at the London Borough of Camden, asked me if I was interested in being a peer researcher for a project on the Family Group Conference.

The project: Family VOICE, is led by Professor Jonathan Scourfield from CASCADE, Cardiff University.

I was delighted and excited about the offer because, for me, it is so meaningful that I can utilise my experience in this significant project that will shape the future of the Family Group Conference. I have a passion for this and it is really close to my heart.  It is immense.

But at the same time, I was very nervous and questioned whether I had the skills for the job.  But the joy of this exciting opportunity was more significant than my worries, so I accepted the offer and joined CASCADE as a peer researcher.

Professor Jonathan is friendly and caring. He knows all this is new to me and often checks how I am feeling, am I comfortable with my tasks, or if I need any support.  My line manager, Sophie, helped me to orient myself to the new role and gave me advice on many things. Also, the CASCADE crew are all very kind and helpful, which makes me feel that I am welcome and part of this organisation.

Since I joined the team, I have been involved in the project bid, attending courses to enhance my skills in qualitative research, joining regular meetings with the team to discuss the project, and planning for the workshops.

Family VOICE has four workshops in two sites, North Wales, and Camden.  I am responsible for organising the workshop in Camden.  There was much preparation for the workshop, such as studying the logic model, designing questions, liaising with stakeholders, facilitating, writing and other administrative work.

I enjoyed and have learned a lot from the process, and I am delighted that I delivered the first workshop successfully in June.

So far, I love this experience as a peer researcher at the University.  Working with a research team has raised my interest in qualitative research and enhanced my skills for other work.  It also broadened my network, and I have met other researchers who want help on other projects. 

But most satisfying is the chance to participate, to use my painful experience for good and to help shape the future of social work, which I think is crucial for a peer researcher.

Kar Man