Working with community researchers to enhance rural community engagement around Private Water Supplies: an exploration of the benefits and challenges

Rachel Creaney*, Mags Currie, Paul Teedon, Karin Helwig

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

This project employed community researchers as a means of improving community engagement around their Private Water Supplies (PWS) in rural Scotland. In this paper, we reflect on working with community researchers in terms of the benefits and challenges of the approach for future rural research that seeks to improve community engagement. The paper (1) critiques the involvement of community researchers for rural community engagement, drawing on the experiences in this project and (2) provides suggestions for good practice for working with community researchers in rural communities’ research. We offer some context in terms of the role of community members in research, the importance of PWS, our approach to community researchers, followed by the methodological approach and findings and our conclusions to highlight that community researchers can be beneficial for enhancing community engagement, employability, and social capital. Future community researcher approaches need to be fully funded to ensure core researchers can fulfil their duty of care, which should not stop when data collection is finished. Community researchers need to be supported in two main ways: as continuing faces of the project after the official project end date and to transfer their newly acquired skills to future employment opportunities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalQualitative Research
Early online date24 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • community researchers
  • lay researchers
  • Private Water Supplies
  • participatory research
  • community engagement

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