We support organisations to involve their community, by offering our research and consultation services.

As an example of research, in 2012/13 we supported the LGBT Community Safety Forum with their ‘Trust and Confidence Survey 2012’ – a primarily online questionnaire designed to assess the LGBT community’s ‘trust and confidence’ in service providers around reporting hate crime. TDC worked in partnership with the Forum receiving over 650 respondents and writing a summary report of the findings; and then subsequently with the Council’s Crime and Disorder Analyst (and Safe in the City, B&H Community safety Partnership) who produced a full survey report to compare with police data and share with partners to inform work in the city.

One exciting piece of consultancy work was ‘the Big Dish Out’ a Participatory Budgeting Pilot Project with Young People aged 13–19 in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean Ward. There was a core group of 13 young people, who remained engaged throughout the pilot, making difficult decisions about spending priorities for £20,000 in their local area. The young people in the Big Dish Out team felt empowered enough to ask questions directly of the Commissioner about decision making powers, when they came across something they disagreed with. Ownership is maybe the most important indicator of success. This was a pilot project which is currently being rolled out once again as ‘Big Dish Out 2’ – you can read all about it in our news section.

Provision of Focus Group work in neighbourhoods and citywide

Why hold a focus group?
Focus groups are a type of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their views on a particular topic. They are valuable tools to enable a better understanding of community needs and their findings can be effective in influencing service delivery. By bringing together a group of people to reflect on an issue, participants share experiences and through discussion new ideas and insights can emerge. Focus groups often enable a more in depth exploration of issues than can be gathered from an interview or survey.

TDC’s focus group provision
TDC has been running focus groups across the City for many years. We are particularly well placed because we have strong networks amongst communities that other service providers often find harder to reach. We are able to offer ways to engage with a representative spread of people across the city including, for example

  • young families;
  • older people;
  • people with disabilities;
  • BME communities;
  • people at economic disadvantage.

Findings from our focus groups can be very influential such as the focus groups we ran involving :

  • a variety of communities including BME groups around health checks, information sharing and cancer screening for the CCG
  • the BME community exploring HR recruitment
  • people with dementia and their carers which influenced the City’s dementia friendly guide
  • (young) women in deprived areas which fed into the planning for women’s services in the City
  • economically disadvantaged residents and BME communities which contributed to the big alcohol debate

TDC’s approach
Firstly we will work closely with you to agree the scope of the focus group. This includes agreeing the research objectives, the timescale and the target participants. We will also agree whether incentives for participating in a focus group will be offered.

Next we recruit to the focus groups; this involves approaching existing groups that might be interested and appropriate to be a representative cross-section as well as promoting and publicising through our networks and users. This might include advertising through community contact lists and informal networks. Where appropriate we will advertise in relevant languages and make use of community noticeboards and local venues such as GP practices. We find focus groups of around 8 people are ideal.

The next stage is to develop a topic guide so that our facilitator can encourage the conversation to flow and develop. We will work closely with you to clarify discussion topics and questions ensuring there are prompts that encourage participation and exploration of the topic.

We then agree your role at the focus group; you might decide that you would like to get involved and this might mean you joining the session half an hour before the end to thank participants for their involvement and to explain how their thoughts will be used.

The focus group itself is supported by two workers; one to facilitate and the other to take notes. At least one worker will be previously known and trusted by the participants. We ensure all participants receive reminders and support with transport and interpreters as needed. Focus groups are usually run in a familiar community venue with refreshments and at a convenient time.

Finally we will summarise the findings from the focus group(s). The summary will identify key themes and points of consensus or disagreement as well as highlighting any useful quotes. A thank you and a summary will also be given to participants so that they can see the findings from the focus group.

Our standard fee for running a focus group is £989 and covers staff time, publicity costs plus meeting room and refreshment costs. Additional costs would be incentives for participants and any additional time for particularly specialist topics. Savings might be from translation costs, in kind meeting room costs and refreshments. A recent web search showed that comparable costs for a focus group would be £2,500; we are able to offer a focus group at less than half this cost because of our established links and networks in local communities.

More information
For more information about running focus groups please contact Linda Saltwell, TDC Chief Executive on E-Mail: [email protected], or call 01273 262220.

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