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Hearing the voices of Children and Young People Living in Areas of Social and Economic Disadvantage in Relation to their Leisure and Recreational Needs

Research Staff

Dr. Elizabeth Nixon, Dr. Jean Whyte, Ms. Tina Byrne

About the Project


The aim of this project was to generate findings that map the issues in the provision of leisure and recreational opportunities which emerge over a period of nine months (October — August) for young people aged 13 — 18 living in areas characterised by social and economic disadvantage. It aimed to contribute to the Combat Poverty's theme of 'Child and Family Poverty' by providing qualitative data on the implications for the well-being of young people living in poverty of the options available to them in terms of recreational and leisure opportunities.

What did the research focus on?

The literature review critically analysed policy and research documents which discussed issues related to the leisure and recreational opportunities of young people living in social and economic disadvantage in Ireland and elsewhere. The review also evaluated the formal and informal structures that exist to consult with children and young people about these issues and the mechanisms established to feed their contribution into policy responses.

The research team collected data which provided an in-depth analysis of the free time activities currently enjoyed by young people over a period of nine months and of the issues raised by them in relation to the provision of leisure and recreation facilities in their neighbourhoods and the well-being of the young people. It will identified any challenges or threats to their well-being posed by their current free time activities and established what were the obstacles and enablers to the provision of leisure and recreational activities as seen by the providers. It will also aimed to raise public awareness of the reality of social and economic disadvantage for young people and provide information which can be used to support initiatives in this area and put in place preventative measures to counteract threats to well-being which are likely to be found within elements of the present situation.

What did the research involve?

Participants were invited to take part in the study from six neighbourhoods. The choice of study locality was supported by a range of objective indicators of socially excluded localities including relevant statistical data pertaining to the following: unemployment, social housing, lone parents, educational attainment, crime and drug use. A total of 72 participants is envisaged (36 aged 13- 15; 36 aged 16-18) equally divided between males and females.

Focus groups with both young people and providers of services were employed in the first stage to identify issues — as well as those identified from the literature - which then formed the focus of conversations with individuals. Focus group discussions and individual interviews, where appropriate, made use of participatory techniques, many of which derive from Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) strategies.

A questionnaire for young people and an interview schedule for providers which have been used by a research partner in another country and were suitably adapted (with permission already granted) for use in Ireland, were used as a basis for some of the data collection. This enabled additional comparisons to be made. Additional measures were designed in line with the findings from the focus groups.

Final products of the research

The research was completed in October 2004 with a Draft Report being made available to the Combat Poverty Agency in October 2005, a Research Briefing was prepared from the findings.

Research Briefing Issue 1: The free time and leisure needs of young people living in disadvantaged communities (PDF 293 kB)

Last updated 15 March 2010 by The Children′s Research Centre (Email).