Trust, local knowledge and local action

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation onlypeer-review


This paper discusses trust and relationship  in a piece of practice research that investigated health service access for people living homeless in a rural coastal town. The research used conversations with two socially disparate groups of participants; people living homeless and people providing services.

As a long term resident, staff member of the Health Service and regular attendee of a Breakfast for people living homeless, my position as a social worker was both highly transparent, and socially located between the two groups of participants.

Both experiential and observational data was collected using an inclusive action research methodology.

Reflection on the social action and the qualitative data analysis show that working with a population living with significant vulnerability requires a researcher to be authentic and dependable to ensure their trust . Working with providers with significant time restraints requires a researcher to be organised and efficient. These characteristics are different elements of trust on which both the recruitment and conduct of this research was dependent. Trust was dependent on and arose from; trust in the Health Service, trust in the Breakfast and trust in the researcher personally. 

The District Oral Health Service was subsequently able to act on the basis of this locally constructed knowledge to provide access to the public dentist using the strategy designed by the people living homeless themselves. Council also used the knowledge to contribute to a significantly reviewed policy for dealing with non-compliant campsites of those living homeless.

Based on these outcomes, the paper argues for the value of practice based, action-oriented research in small communities that draws on trust in local institutions and personnel. The process and outcome of this research has implications for inclusion in knowledge building as a powerful strategy for local action on national issues.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event2021 Qualitative Health Research Network Conference - online - University College London, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 18 Mar 202119 Mar 2021
Conference number: 5


Conference2021 Qualitative Health Research Network Conference
Abbreviated titleNegotiating trust: Exploring power, belief, truth and knowledge in health and care
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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