The REGAL Project in Ireland worked with women with experience of homelessness and/or housing insecurity and have a care responsibility. The project was led by Focus Ireland, a national housing and homeless NGO working to prevent individuals, young people and families from becoming homeless and support them out of homelessness.
The majority of participants were recruited through Focus Ireland’s services. The project worked with a diverse, core group of 15 women in 12 focus groups between November 2019 and March 2020 before public health restrictions came into effect as a result of Covid-19.
The focus groups were held in the Outhouse community resource centre in Dublin city, where each week the group were warmly welcomed and accommodated. Childcare was provided in a separate room at the same venue for the women who had young children not attending school. Most of the childcare was provided by two voluntary childcare workers.
As a way of exploring the research questions amongst a diverse group in general rather than personal terms, the character ‘Faith’ was introduced. Faith represented the women’s experiences, feelings and aspirations and would ultimately speak to policymakers on their behalf. Faith had a physical presence in all of the focus groups through the form of a letter box. Through this, the women could speak directly to her with letters or notes.
Getting to know Faith and developing a picture of her life allowed the group to connect and importantly to build a sense of solidarity around the barriers in Faith’s life and her aspirations. Faith was like them and they wanted the best for her. Faith’s diary represents the voices and experiences of the women in this project.
Faith was inspired by Fiona Whelan, a socially engaged artist and educator, who worked as a consultant on the project. Fiona used a similar methodology in previous work she undertook with marginalised groups in Dublin.
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Faith deserves to be heard
We think that Faith and all the people she represents throughout Ireland deserve to be heard. You can play your part by sharing this project on your favourite social media channel.