Are you passionate about effecting change in your local community? Have you got experience of bad housing or homelessness? Shelter's Women's Centred Services are looking for women/non-binary individuals in Birmingham, Bristol and Sheffield who have lived experience of bad housing and homelessness to become volunteers through conducting 1-2-1 interviews with others in their area.

In our new Peer Researcher Volunteer role, you’ll conduct research into the issues women and families are experiencing when it comes to bad housing and homelessness. You’ll also examine the barriers that are preventing women from accessing the advice and support they need. You’ll collaborate with Shelter to co-produce solutions to address those issues.

Who is this role for?
Those who identify as a woman or non-binary and:
• Are comfortable being involved in a project that centres women
• Live in Bristol, Birmingham or Sheffield
• Have experienced homelessness or bad housing.

Suggested Involvement: Approximately 7 hours per week for 4 months, but this can work flexibly around your existing commitments.

Location: Home-based, or at our Bristol, Birmingham or Sheffield Hub (in line with government guidance)

Why get involved?
Women are being increasingly and disproportionately impacted by the housing crisis. At Shelter we want to ensure that women and families are able to access the advice and support that they need, and that we are best placed to tackle the issues that lead to women and families becoming homeless in the first place.

What is Peer Research?
Peer Research is a research approach where people with direct experience of the issues you are researching, are involved in developing and carrying out the research. It gives individuals the opportunity to affect change in their local communities and provides them with the skills to do so. Peer research can establish a shared understanding between researcher and those taking part based on similar experiences, allowing for more open and empathetic conversations and can help break down some of the barriers which may prevent women from getting involved in more traditional research.

Main tasks
• Contribute to development of interview questions
• Discuss and analyse women’s stories and experiences
• Conduct 1-2-1 semi structured interviews with women over the phone to capture their stories, experiences and insights of bad housing and homelessness in your local area and the solutions needed
• Make recommendations and coproduce solutions and services to bring about lasting change for women in your community based on peer research findings
• Follow Shelter’s policies, including volunteering, health & safety, equality & diversity, confidentiality & data protection

Support and development
• In-depth group training over 2 days on the 26th-27th May covering relevant topics including: research ethics, research skills, confidentiality, safeguarding and professional boundaries
• E-learning covering Shelter, equality & diversity, health & safety and environmental awareness
• Regular 1-2-1 catch ups with the Involvement Coordinator to discuss challenges and wellbeing, and feedback on the research process
• Regular group catch ups with other peer researchers in your area for peer support and to share views and techniques
• Opportunity to enhance personal and professional development by enhanced involvement in certain elements of the project if you so wish

Shelter is committed to engaging volunteers from diverse backgrounds including volunteers with lived experience of homelessness and bad housing. A diverse volunteer base enriches our work with first- hand knowledge, empathy and authenticity enabling us to better reflect the needs of the communities we serve. Shelter are committed to eliminating all forms of discrimination and to promoting and valuing diversity.  We do not tolerate - and we actively challenge - racism and all forms of hate and discrimination.

FAQs

Is this role for me?
If you live in Bristol, Birmingham or Sheffield, identify as a woman or non-binary, and want to use your experience of homelessness or bad housing to affect change in your local area, then yes!

How can I apply for the role?
You can apply online to become a Peer Researcher here http://bttr.im/ucsyy
If you don’t have access to the internet at the moment or would like some support in applying for the role, please get in touch with the Involvement Coordinator, Liv Dunphy on 07385460150 or [email protected]

What happens after I have applied?
Once we have received your application, we will be in touch to arrange an informal interview. This will take place with the Involvement Coordinator on Zoom over the phone. It is an opportunity for us to understand why you want to take part in this project and what experiences and perspectives you can bring. It’s also an opportunity for you to find out more about the role and about Shelter, and ask any questions you might have.

Do I need any particular experience for this role?
You don't need to have volunteered or done Peer Research before, but you do need to have your own lived experience of bad housing and homelessness in one of the three locations and a passion to affect change in your local community. You will receive in-depth training ahead of any interviews, so you will feel well-prepared!

Will it cost me anything to take part?
Shelter will reimburse any reasonable expenses that arise from your volunteering with us in line with our Volunteer Expenses policy. If you have concerns about how volunteering can affect your benefits you may find this page from Citizens Advice useful.

I don’t have a smartphone or computer, can I still volunteer?
Yes, we will provide you with the equipment needed to carry out the role for the duration of the time you are volunteering with us

Will I have to travel within this role?
This role will be mostly home-based. There may be some opportunities to do face-to-face interviews or focus groups, or to volunteer at your local hub, but this will always be carried out in line with government safety guidelines.

Can I volunteer if I have a criminal record?
This role requires a basic DBS check which shows unspent convictions. Having a criminal record will not necessarily bar you from becoming a volunteer, so please don't let this put you off.
Please get in touch with our Involvement Coordinator if you have any concerns about this or would like more information.

I have another question, how do I get in touch?
You can get in touch with our Involvement Coordinator Liv Dunphy at [email protected] or give her a call on 07385460150.