Walsall Ethnographic Research, Being a Child of Walsall

Every year, as in other local authorities, Walsall Council’s Director of Public Health produces an Annual Report.

To bolster/inform the 2021 Annual Report and to build on the 2020 report which looks specifically at children and young people, Walsall Council want to hear from the children and young people of Walsall themselves about what it is like growing up in the Borough. This valuable insight will also help to inform the development of the Walsall Best Start 4 Life Strategy (BS4L) which will highlight and address the issues that young people face in growing up in Walsall.

M·E·L Research has been commissioned to research and produce up to 10 detailed qualitative ethnographic studies of children and young people living in Walsall, to explore the realities and lived experiences of growing up in the Borough and gain young people’s views as to what they recommend is set in place to support themselves, their peers and other children and young people across the Borough.

In order to gain a breadth of insight and experiences, a cross-section of girls and boys aged 11-18 will be recruited for the study (via local gatekeepers) from different areas, with different educational needs, and from different religious, cultural and socio-demographic backgrounds. They will be asked about their experiences so far of growing up in Walsall, the challenges they have faced, their hopes, dreams and fears for the future, and to think about what support they have used versus what support they feel they need and would help.

By hearing about the lived experiences of children and young people directly and in their own words, Walsall Council will be able to weave compelling qualitative narratives into their 2021 Annual Report and the forthcoming BS4L Strategy, along with relevant recommendations for the wider health and care system in the Borough.
Due to the restrictions and uncertainties caused by Covid-19, we are being innovative in our research approach. An early task will be to get recruitment underway, and to prepare research documents which need to meet the scrutiny and requirements of Walsall Council’s internal ethics committee.

We will use virtual consultation methods for qualitative interviews and discussions with children and young people, followed by the use of virtual Online Bulletin Boards to gather further feedback (including photographs). There will be a final virtual ‘thinking it all through’ discussion with participants towards the end of the research, to inform our thinking about what the findings mean and what the implications are for Walsall Council and partners.
The research output will consist of visual and attractive individual ethnographic studies for each participant, supported by a cross-cutting report containing further detail on the methodology, learning points, and crucially, what the aggregated findings tell Walsall Council about the reality for children and young people of growing up in Walsall, supported by our recommendations.