Community and social researchers are regularly asked to help funders and organisations understand the depth and breadth of community change which has occurred as a result of their funding and actions. As community action has become more locally-driven, research methods have become more proactive in terms of helping communities and community members capture and understand their contribution in creating community changes.
As a social research company, a growing part of our work is helping communities to notice and record change in their own voices, using methods such as community dinners, Photovoice and impact stories. Working with communities in ways which are respectful and relational is a process which can’t be hurried.
Good things take time, and this is especially true of community work, and community research. Making time to stop and reflect on what has happened is often difficult for people who are constantly doing, doing, doing, yet it is crucial if we are to understand the quality of the intervention and how initiatives can check where they are heading and adapt if necessary.
Understanding change can be a tough journey at times but, if done gently and carefully, is a journey which is worth the effort.