Researching and Writing

RESEARCH & THEORY

Working with complex problems like poverty and loneliness is difficult and confusing. You’re never really sure if you’re doing the right thing, or even if there is a right thing to do.

 

 So we started doing a research evaluation with researchers from University of Sheffield. We wanted to know more about theories of change and how they applied to our work.

WHAT WE DID

Working with complex problems like poverty and loneliness is difficult and confusing. You’re never really sure if you’re doing the right thing, or even if there is a right thing to do.

 

 So we started doing a research evaluation with researchers from University of Sheffield. We wanted to know more about theories of change and how they applied to our work. Were there principles that would help us to understand how to design things so that people are helped most?

 

We spent a long time talking with TimeBuilder members to understand how things had changed as a result of being in the project

 

We did a lot of reading and writing and working out how their experience applied to the theories we were learning about.

 

We developed ideas and tested them with TimeBuilder members (who are the experts after all).

 

This led us into theories about how people behave, and how to support behavior change. This sounds a bit weird, but actually when people tell you about a change in their lives they are talking about behaviour.

Ian teaching resized.jpg

We came up with 3 simple principles which help people to make a desired change in their lives

1. People need to experience success.

If you have had a lifetime of failure you don’t believe what other people tell you. You need to experience it for yourself. Practical projects where people find they can contribute something are evidence of success.

2. People can only change if they are part of a community of other people who want similar change.

We are powerless to change ourselves. We need to be among people who want the same.

3. People need to be rewarded for each step they take.

Any long-term change in behaviour is hard work and there is more pain than gain. Each step of change needs to feel rewarding.

Obviously these factors reinforce each other. You can read more about our general approach in our article below

Pritpal’s blog is a brilliant blend of practice and theory. He discusses many approaches to community health in a way that is accessible and insightful. Have a browse. You can see an article about TimeBuilders on 21 August 2019

Theoretical approaches

COM-B Framework - Susan Michie

The framework helps to provide a reason for the choices people make and provides a model for helping people to change the way they live in the world. By considering 3 elements (Capability, Opportunity and Motivation) in a systemic way, the theory is applicable to complex situations and problems and has been further developed by Professor Maddy Arden from Sheffield Hallam University

Dr Sean Young

Dr Sean Young brings together a wide range of behaviour/motivation theories which adds detail to the higher level theory provided by the framework. In particular his book “Stick with It” is more granular in its approach. He identifies the importance of small goals, of doing things in community and of feeling rewarded.

Connecting People Study - Prof. Martin Webber

The development of healthy social networks requires an environment where the following things happen:

• The capabilities, assets and social networks of disadvantaged people are recognised and developed.

• People have a sense of purpose

• People can develop networks 

• Activity is contained within a framework that is both consistent and flexible over time

Capability Theory - Nussbaum

Most people have aspirations to be free to be what they want to be and do what they want to do.  Their capability to achieve these hopes, however, is influenced by the social, political and economic world that they live in.

 

At St Mary's, we try to create an environment which supports people to become capable of:

 

  • reflecting on what they want to do in life

  • producing the work that they want to do

  • choosing the events that they want to participate in and run 

  • interacting with lots of different people and being able to imagine the situations of other people

  • respecting and valuing people, and feeling that they are equally valued by others

Food ladders - Megan Blake

A holistic and systemic approach to food poverty.

 

The ladders have 3 rungs

Rung 1: Catching – giving people crisis support

Rung 2: Capacity building – building skills and confidence as well as providing food.

Rung 3: Self-organising for community change, making the transition from recipient to provider.

Community Approaches to Health

Contact Us

St Mary’s Church 
Bramall Lane
Sheffield
S2 4QZ

 

Tel: 0114 223 0223
Email: admin@stmarys-church.co.uk

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