In researching ‘Intersecting Inequalities’, a report on the impact of public spending cuts on black and minority ethnic (BME) women, WBG worked with both national and local civil society organisations. At a national level our main partner was the Runnymede Trust, a race equality think tank. At a local level we worked with two organisations, RECLAIM in Manchester in the north of England and Coventry Women’s Voices from the West Midlands. Members of both groups carried out interviews and focus groups with women experiencing austerity. This meant that our statistical data, which showed that women were losing more benefits and services than men, and BME women were losing most of all, was reinforced with evidence from civil society organisations of what this meant for women’s lives.
In Manchester, three young BME women who had worked with RECLAIM were trained as peer interviewers. They carried out in-depth interviews with young working-class women and narrated a short video about the findings of the research. These young women were invited to the House of Commons to speak about their findings, and their experience of carrying out the research at the launch of the report.
One of the peer researchers on the project wrote about the experience:
Within my community I can see the realities of austerity cuts and felt a responsibility to take part in this project and voice these collectively shared experiences. I have felt empowered to contribute raw evidence of the lasting impacts that austerity is having on the personal lives of young BME women. Despite the narrative in the interview sometimes feeling bleak and distressing to hear, I did find that speaking on and sharing our realities had offered a cathartic release and that by the end of the interview there was a sense of solidarity amongst us young women that was being propelled through this work
The work with RECLAIM was made possible because of the relationship between WBG members at the University of Manchester and RECLAIM that had been developed over previous research projects. WBG included funding for the researchers’ time and travel expenses for the peer researchers to travel to London for the report launch as part of the project budget.
[The key to] working with grassroots groups is ...finding partners who already have ...relationships. If there is already a network set up in advance, or people with the connections you need, partner with them. Or you need the resources to build up the relationships over time. Otherwise if you parachute in, do something and leave not much happens afterwards