Care experience meets research - introducing a new podcast and their hosts

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What does a media professional, who is a saxophonist and advocate for care experienced young people have in common with a PhD student, who graduated in experimental psychology and worked as a physics teacher?… A podcast. Sophia and Eva have recently launched Who cares about Research? – a podcast that makes social research more accessible. We have asked them why this is needed and what can be expected.

1. First things first: Can you tell us a bit about your podcast?

Sophia: Who cares about Research? is a podcast dedicated to sharing cutting edge social research with the people it most affects, such as e.g., care experienced young people. As a care leaver who’s pretty outspoken on social media, I often get invited to speak at conferences as a ‘lived experience voice’. Last year, I got to go to my first academic conference and I was blown away by how much cool social research was being done that I’d never heard about before. This podcast aims to share this in an accessible way, especially with the communities the research is looking at.

Eva: We chat to people at the forefront of social research and each episode we tackle a new topic ranging from social worker stress, to the ethics of social media in child protection. You don't need any special expertise to listen and learn with us. We talk about research that is relevant to the real world. This should guide practice and change our outlook on the world.

2. How did the podcast come about?

Sophia: At the start of lockdown, I had begun thinking about applying to do a PhD. I realised, however, I didn’t simply want to add to the catalogue of inaccessible and unread research, but rather draw out all the incredible work that had already been done. I decided that I wanted to create an accessible platform in order to share these findings, and as a former-radio presenter with all the audio equipment needed, a podcast ticked all the right boxes!

Eva: When I started teaching I couldn't match up how little research I was hearing about regarding how to support my students and what I knew was being investigated from my undergraduate degree. I have desperately wanted to address this and do research that matters now and isn't closed off to those who generously give their time to participate. When Sophia told me about her project I was pretty blown away and the rest is history!

3. Who is the podcast for and who do you hope will listen?

Eva: The podcast is aimed at two key groups of people. Firstly, we want to reach out to the people the research we discuss is all about – e.g., young people with experience of being in care. Part of how we will do this is through our second target audience: people whose practice could be directly informed by access to the most cutting edge research in their field. These professionals may be teachers learning how to support their pupils in care, or social work commissioners thinking about the support systems provided for their staff. There is research out there that has the potential to make us all more effective in these critical roles.

4. Why is it so important to have a podcast like this?

Eva: There is a figure constantly thrown around that it takes 20 years for research to translate into changes in practice. The reason for this is partly the huge numbers of barriers for the people doing the practices to access the research. We hope the podcast helps to remove these. We hope foster carers, social workers and other professionals whose work is linked to social research will benefit from listening to this podcast, and that it will help them keep their practice informed by the latest research in their field.

Sophia: I spotted a huge negative impact of inaccessible research, especially on the communities studied. For years, we were told, for instance, that half of care leavers withdraw from university in their first year. The real number, however, is closer to 19 per cent. I’ve heard this statistic too often, and it took an academic who I happened to be following, to post a tweet for me to find out that was incorrect. That shouldn’t be the case. We want to see a world where the general public, in particular those with lived-experience, will be empowered by accessing knowledge gained from research about them. This research also has to translate into evidence-based practice.

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New episodes of Who cares about Research? are being released every Wednesday. You can listen to the podcast here.

Find out more here.