Why Expert Link?

Expert Link believe that people with lived experience of homelessness should be treated as equal partners in decisions made about their lives. Regretfully, research methods commonly undertaken often treat people with lived experience of homelessness as subjects, rather than partners in research.

Our methodology adopts a different approach, providing people with lived experience of opportunities to engage in all aspects of the work, from design of interview questions to the production of a final report. This will bring a range of benefits, including:

  • The evidence collected being of a higher standard. Improved connections can be achieved between interviewer and interviewee, moving from a formal ‘interrogation’ style interview scenario to a more discursive setting allowing people to ‘open up’ more. Given the short time limits of an interview, this can be crucial where interviewees may have shortened capacity to engage with the process. People with lived experience of homelessness can also bring key insight into the issues in the design and production of the scope of the research, allowing the appropriate backdrop from which to work.
  • Engaging in the research provides opportunities for personal development for those involved. Peer researchers will gain skills and experiences in research design and delivery, problem solving, and team work. These improvements also increase the number of positive outcomes associated with the project.
  • A legacy of positive, strengths based co-production. Adopting this way of working and equipping people to conduct peer research will create a foundation for further work which ensures that people’s voices are included at multiple levels.

Research Experience

Expert Link has a track record of training peer researchers, delivering research projects, and gathering evidence from people experiencing homelessness. Examples include:

  1. Housing Issues in Kensington and Chelsea Expert Link and Homeless Link were commissioned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to explore housing issues in the Borough, with a particular focus on equality considerations. Alongside interviews with frontline workers from key organisations in the area, Expert Link recruited and trained a diverse group of people with lived experience of housing issues to conduct peer research with local residents. Expert Link liaised with organisations in the area to recruit peer researchers and interviewees, with a total of 8 people completing the training and conducting peer interviews/focus groups with over 25 people. A full report with equality recommendations was presented to the Council in Summer 2021.
  2. Evaluation of Blackpool Fulfilling Lives. Expert Link worked with Cordis Bright to evaluate Blackpool’s Fulfilling Lives service. This included training 7 people with lived experience of multiple disadvantages to conduct peer research, develop research questions and tools and analyse information. We worked with the Blackpool Lived Experience Team to develop video and electronic materials to encourage recruitment to the training, ensuring the timings, communications and content of the training were engaging and effective. Training was both face-to-face and through online platforms, with peer researchers being provided with on-going support to utilise these skills. Peer researchers completed interviews with service users, frontline workers, and key stakeholders.
  3. EEA Nationals Lived Experience Group. Expert Link have been funded by Crisis to train and facilitate a group of EEA nationals with lived experience of homelessness with a range of experiences, multiple disadvantages and English language proficiency. Engagement takes place online with translators where required. Participants now form part of Crisis’s national campaign to influence government policy around provision for people with No Recourse to Public Funds, which includes supporting the communications, policy and research part of the campaign. Participants have received training to present and speak in Parliament as part of the work, and one of the participants now sits on a group conveyed by Expert Link to work with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government on reviewing their rough sleeping policies.
  4. Southwark Council Service User Focus Groups. Expert Link, in partnership with Homeless Link, have delivered and reported regular focus groups with single homeless people and families for Southwark Council. 6 focus groups were conducted gathering feedback about people’s experience of using the service and identifying ways for the service and customer experience to be improved. Tools were drawn up with input from Southwark Council, Homeless Link and Expert Link, with focus groups facilitated by two people with lived experience of homelessness trained through Expert Link courses.
  5. Other research includes. Middlesbrough Homeless Needs Assessment, Leeds Thematic Review Peer Research and a number of responses to Government reviews and enquiries

If you are interested in finding out how Expert Link can help you with your research then please contact us at info@expertlink.org.uk