I chose to undertake the Laidlaw Scholarship because I understood it would be a great opportunity to research a topic that was important to me. Shedding light on the issue of poverty has been my passion since I started campaigning on the issue in my home town, South Tyneside, which has seen the impacts of the neglect of this issue. I hoped that by being able to add to the research field and understand poverty as something that is perpetuated by the way we talk about it, it would further the need to end poverty stigma. Moreover, I wanted research on child poverty to put young people in the centre to set a precedent of combining participation with stakeholders. I hoped I could make this the case in my research to encourage ethical, inclusive research with young people.
In the first summer, I successfully gathered data from online forums regarding how mums would discuss poverty stigmas. Although I was unable to get ethical clearance to research young people in a way I believed to be meaningful and appropriate, I still wished to include them in my project. Therefore, in the second summer, I decided to disseminate my research through a podcast. I decided in this podcast that I would speak to young people and professionals about their outlook on poverty in the context of their roles. The aim of the podcast is so that people without access to research papers or academic jargon can understand the outcomes of the research I did - that it is important to act on poverty in our communities. This starts with combating a harmful stigma that is perpetuated by both individuals and institutions.
The podcast has been well received and shared by all professionals and young people who participated in the podcasts. Conversations are currently taking place between myself and other charitable organisations such as Citizen UK and SASH on how we can further publicise the podcast and research. I will be presenting my research and the podcast at the International Conference on Poverty and Sustainable Development in Colombo, Sri Lanka in December 2019.
The Scholarship programme will support my future career through being able to connect me to key charities and organisations working on poverty in the UK. I have been able to meet key researchers in poverty research who have kindly offered to potentially facilitate a continuation of the research, which would be amazing. Although this is all unconfirmed, it is very encouraging for my future career that people have taken an interest in me and my research. I am particularly proud of the hard work and dedication that went into this research project and I think that will reflect well with any future employer. I can say with certainty that I have never worked so hard on a project and felt so happy doing so. I hope I will always remember the way this research project made me feel about myself and that I was capable of doing incredible things by myself.
I have recently submitted evidence to a House of Lords select committee on 'Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment'. This means that I have used my expertise on poverty, through this research project, to write my evidence and recommendations on food insecurity in the UK. I will receive correspondence about whether or not the Lords will publish this evidence in their final report which will be released in March 2020. In addition to this, there is a possibility I will be asked to submit oral evidence which would require me to speak in front of the committee live on parliament TV next year about my research. I will keep the Laidlaw team updated about these developments but I very much hope to have the opportunity to share my research with Parliament to contribute to national structural change.