I Am More Than… Research Engagement with People who are Homeless

The REN2 (Research Engagement Network Programme) Stakeholder Event held on March 11, 2024, was a significant gathering aimed at fostering collaboration between the homeless community and health and social care researchers. Here’s a breakdown of the event and its methods:
Aim: The primary goal of the event was to establish an inclusive platform where individuals from the homeless community, including those experiencing homelessness or vulnerable housing, along with their support staff and volunteers, could engage with health and social care researchers. The objective was to elucidate what it means for the homeless community to have a voice and be actively involved in research. By understanding the barriers and facilitators, the aim was to collaboratively develop inclusive opportunities in health and social care research.

Methods: The event utilised several methodologies to facilitate meaningful engagement:

Co-production: Emphasising collaboration as equal partners for mutual benefit.
World Café: Utilising small group discussions to encourage diverse voices and exploration.
Appreciative Inquiry: Employing a transformative and collaborative approach to focus on what works well and what can be improved.
The event structured its activities around the Appreciative Inquiry 5D model:

Define: Clarifying the focus and scope of the discussions.
Discover: Identifying successful practices and effective strategies.
Dream: Encouraging imaginative thinking to envision ideal outcomes.
Design: Translating dreams into actionable steps and plans.
Deliver: Determining next steps and actionable items to move forward.

Creating a supportive and inclusive atmosphere was paramount. Participants were encouraged to feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute. The emphasis was on bringing one’s whole self to the event, transcending professional roles, and fostering a sense of belonging and importance for all attendees. Beneficiaries from HealthBus (in BCP) and The Lantern (in Weymouth), had the opportunity to share their stories of homelessness and voice their view of how experiences of lived homelessness can change delivery and policy. The REN2 initiative is a research project funded by NHS England in collaboration with NHS Dorset and Bournemouth University Research Centre for Seldom Heard Voices, Public Involvement in Education and Research (PIER) Partnership and the voluntary sector.