Public Engagement

Engaging older people

Renske with some members from Oldfield Park Friendly Club

Project contact:

Oldfield Park Friendly Club

Engagement activity:

A short workshop on how different cultures celebrate Christmas and an opportunity to open discussions on sensitive research about end-of-life issues.

Project summary

This project, led by postgraduate researchers (Renske Visser and Jana Kralova) from the University's Centre for Death & Society, served two purposes. Firstly, Renske and Jana were keen to enhance their experience of engaging with older people particularly, those over 50 still living independently in the community. Secondly, they were interested to explore how conversations may be opened up on a relatively sensitive research topic - that of end-of-life issues.

They decided to engage older people through a gatekeeper, a local social club. Gaining access took patience, time and sensitivity. Subsequently, Renske and Jana have produced some advice for researchers looking to engage with community clubs. 

Oldfield Park Friendly Club regularly invites speakers, musicians or entertainers to deliver hour-long sessions and so Renske and Jana secured a slot to deliver a presentation on the way Christmas is celebrated in their home countries of the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. Their presentation was followed by discussion over tea and cake comparing different rituals in these countries with the UK. The older people shared their childhood memories of Christmas and as they relaxed and spoke to the researchers, they began to ask about their day-to-day research on end-of-life issues. Jana and Renske assessed how best to engage with individuals on this on a case-by-case basis.

Find out more about the project

For further details on the project, including the benefits to the researchers and the publics, things they would do differently, and their top tips, see the project case study. A news article about the project is also available alongside advice on negotiating access with a community club.