Acumen were contacted by the Greater London Authority to help find participants for a project on how people from marginalised groups and communities accessed support services for issues relating to employment. The GLA specifically wanted to speak to low-paid workers and migrant workers - people who are usually underrepresented in research. The purpose of the research was to understand the levels of awareness of employment rights amongst those groups and also to gain an understanding of what barriers they faced when trying to access relevant services.
We were aware that the lack of engagement with institutions amongst these demographics would be a significant barrier to our usual research recruitment methods. We overcame this by working with local community groups, snowballing recruitment and explaining the research process in detail to try to allay any suspicions about the nature of the research. Through this we were able to recruit a full range of backgrounds, including Vietnamese nail salon workers who were being covered in the news at the time about the issue of modern day slavery in their profession.
The dynamic and flexible approach to the recruitment in addition to finding venues which would seem neutral to the participants enabled us to succeed in providing the GLA with participants who met the specific criteria but also had a willingness to share their personal stories and experiences which went to the heart of the initial brief.
As we were working directly with the GLA on this project, it was thrilling to learn that the insights we provided were being used to identify new ways to tackle economic fairness amongst some of London’s most vulnerable workers.
Myles Wilson, who commissioned the research for the GLA said, “Low-paid migrant workers are a particularly challenging and hard-to-reach group so recruitment was a key concern for us when planning this research but Acumen were very proactive and updated us throughout.”
For our work on this Acumen were named as finalists and eventually won the award for Best Data Collection (Face to Face) at the 2018 MRS Operations Awards.