Poverty and Worklessness study for HFPWC


In June 2016, M·E·L Research was commissioned by Hammersmith and Fulham Poverty and Workless Commission (HFPWC) to conduct a programme of qualitative in-depth interviews. The HFPWC were particularly interested in understanding the reasons, motivations and emotional state behind high rates of worklessness in a borough, that has a very high overall rate of overall employment and no shortage of part-time and entry level jobs. 

Residents that met the following criteria were targeted for in-depth interviews:

  • Unemployed people aged 35+
  • Unemployed people from BAME backgrounds
  • Long-term unemployed
  • People living with mental health conditions that limit their ability to work
  • Older people in/at risk of social isolation.


The study comprised of the following five stages:

  1. Recruitment and profiling to ensure we only spoke to residents who met the above criteria.
  2. Desk research. This helped to inform our recruitment and topic guide deisgn.
  3. A total of 94 semi-structured in depth interviews  were conducted face-to-face or by telephone.
  4. Segmentation of the data into discrete/semi-discrete groups and identified any typologies (where they existed) of individuals or groups that have traits and characteristics in  common (e.g. single parents, migrants/BME groups etc)
  5. The final stage of the project involved conducting 10 Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) interviews.  These had a particular focus on capturing the triggering events over time which led to  poverty/worklessness, and gave a flavour of the lifecycle of these events.


Our study provided invaluable insight for HFPWC into the reasons, motivations and emotional state behind for high rates of worklessness in some parts of the borough. This information alongside, HFPWC’s wider work (e.g. desk research and focus groups) enabled them to formulate recommendations to assist the Council in developing new services and support for the most vulnerable residents in the borough. The findings from the HFPWC’s evaluation (including the findings from our desk research, qualitative interviews and customer journey maps etc) can be accessed using the following link: www.lbhf.gov.uk/sites/default/files/section_attachments/hfpwc-final-report.pdf.