Lancaster University

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Older people to be employed as researchers

01/10/2001 12:16:27

Researchers at Lancaster University are creating a new opportunity for local retired people to contribute towards a large, ambitious, national research project on older people's housing needs. The University's Departments of Applied Social Science and Continuing Education are preparing to run an innovative Research Methods course, open to anyone aged 60 or over, living in or around Lancaster, early in the New Year.

The course is partly based on the expectation that older people would be happier to discuss their housing decisions with others of, or near their own age group, in face-to-face interviews, in their own homes. By running the course, they also hope to prove that older people can do high quality research on important social policy issues, which affect them directly, when they have sufficient training and support.

The university researchers are currently looking to recruit retired people who have a curiosity about social research and are prepared to undergo a short training period so they can contribute directly to the project. Apart from the age criteria, there are no entry requirements, and no prior knowledge will be assumed. A vetting procedure, modelled upon ones used by major voluntary organisations for recruiting volunteers, will be used to ensure the personal integrity of prospective students. This is to acknowledge the university researchers' responsibility to protect potentially vulnerable interviewees.

The course has been designed to recognise students' previous life and work experiences and combine this with professional research knowledge and experience. Since the course is being partly subsidised by research funds, students will receive their training at a substantially discounted rate. As they will be paid the going rate for doing face-to-face interviews as part of the course, they will be able to recoup the original course fee and be in profit at the end of the course.

Besides the undoubted intellectual and personal rewards, the qualification could prepare students for employment (in some cases paid) on other projects that will arise as the government's aspirations to consult fully with older people are implemented in more and more areas across the country.

The course starts on Wednesday February 7th 2001, 2-4pm, at Lancaster University. Anybody who would like to know more, please contact:

Mary Leamy, Senior Research Associate, Applied Social Science Lancaster University, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4YL.

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