Grassroots Research: Community Based Research and Peer Research Consultants

OCABAs part of our mandate to develop innovative employment opportunities, Working for Change conducts community based research projects for other non-profits, community agencies and academic institutions, employing community based researchers in the process.

Individuals who live in or are part of a particular community are often very effective in carrying out research projects as they typically have an in-depth understanding of issues such as poverty and homelessness and they may be able to engage research participants more effectively than professionals.

Working for Change trains community members to: participate in the development of questionnaires, interview research participants, facilitate focus groups and participate in data analysis. The community researchers learn a number of transferrable skills through the training they receive. They also gain information about a variety of issues (social housing, peer support, tenant satisfaction, bedbugs) while earning an hourly wage that is usually significantly higher than the provincial minimum.

Working for Change will train new community researchers for an organization or provide researchers with experience.

The process
At the outset of a research project training is provided on topics such as:

  • Research ethics and confidentiality
  • The difference between qualitative and quantitative research and how to decide on an appropriate methodology
  • Consent forms
  • Note taking and recording
  • Development of questionnaires
  • Interviewing techniques
  • Facilitation training and practice in conducting small focus groups
  • Data compilation and analysis

The community researchers work with an experienced research professional throughout the entire process and attend meetings as the work progresses. When the data is gathered and collated, the community researchers participate in analyzing the results. The senior researcher then writes a draft report, which is circulated to the community researchers for further comment before the final draft is submitted to the client organization.

Working for Change has worked with a number of organizations including AIS, Habitat Services , Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre, The Toronto Enterprise Fund, Trinity Square Enterprises, WoodGreen, and the Centre for Urban and Community Studies at the University of Toronto, on issues ranging from tenant satisfaction, peer work, and employment to the prevention and treatment of bed bugs.

Dr. Joyce Brown, the Executive Director of Working for Change, has extensive experience in research and supervises each project.